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Toronto cyclists took over High Park to protest police ticketing

Riders did laps in the park to bring awareness to the problem

Cyclists converge in High Park to protest Photo by: Aaron Lee ✌🏽 @aaroniclee

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.

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.”

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.

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.