Riding in Toronto’s High Park is very popular, but for the past two years police have been ticketing cyclists for going over the 20km/h speed limit. David Shellnutt, also known as the Biking Lawyer, decided to do something about it.
In response to the loss of #ActiveTO, Toronto Police Services are ticketing and targeting cyclists in High Park and the concerns of our neighbours, Shellnutt said in a statement. “So on Sunday July 17, 2022, from 6 to 8 a.m the Biking Lawyer in collaboration with road cycling and bike safety advocates will be organizing the first High Park takeover.”
Toronto’s streets are dangerous, Shellnutt wrote. “According to the TPS’ own database, we know that between 2006 and 2021, there were 17,000 incidents of people killed or seriously injured by motorists. During that same time across all of Toronto there were 6 people seriously injured by cyclists (and zero deaths).”
On Saturday, the day before the takeover, there were already problems brewing. “This morning, one day before cyclists are to take High Park in response to police ticketing, TPS drove SUVs into the park on a car-free day, parked in the bike lanes, and ticketed cyclists.
“Just because we have a billion dollar hammer does not make every problem a nail. TPS cannot be the solution to safe and equitable park use. The ticketing and harassment of cyclists must stop,” Shellnutt said.
Literally @TorontoPolice in High Park right now before 10am pulling over cyclists, armed in massive SUVs on a car free Sat. Why not read your own data and literally go a block to @safeparkside where people are actually getting hurt. #bikeTO Cc @gordperks pic.twitter.com/joi8PUDwCc
— The Biking Lawyer (Dave Shellnutt) (@TheBikingLawyer) July 16, 2022
On Sunday, the riders did laps around High Park. The group had marshalls at crosswalks and at the intersections. According to one of the riders at the event, marshalls were in place to help minimize conflicts between park users and inform other people what was going on. Furthermore, the event’s code of conduct stated: “Cyclists shall always yield to pedestrians, regardless of whether they are in a crosswalk. The safety of pedestrians is paramount at all times.”
Early this morning safety advocates & volunteers created a safe & reimagined loop in High Park for cyclists, runners & pedestrians calling for a permanently car-free #HighPark #BikeTO @blogTO @metromorning @westendphoenix #cycling #activeto pic.twitter.com/dyEyBuWUCB
— Martin Reis (@BikeLaneDiary) July 17, 2022
They then made the vehicle lane into two bike tracks, and the existing bike lane was now a jogging lane. The group also spoke to people who were there explaining their goal.
Read Code of Conduct from this morning's ride & rally to see what advocates are asking for in terms of sharing High Park. Whataboutisms & false equivalencies about bikes v cars is offensive to friends & families who have lost loved ones to road violence:https://t.co/NQ1tFeJZmL
— MWCC (@midweekcycling) July 17, 2022
Cyclists in Toronto have proposed having the park for cyclists to use at higher speeds for a few hours in the early morning. Given the paucity of decent training roads in the city, it would provide a safe spot for those who are looking to do training rides at a faster clip.