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Toronto traffic cop using Twitter to call out bike lane-blocking drivers

'We need to look at protecting cyclists. We need to have these dedicated lanes that are protected.'

Be warned, errant drivers. A  Toronto traffic cop named Kyle Ashley—part of the Toronto Police Service’s bike-mounted unit—has his eyes peeled, his smartphone charged and his Twitter account at the ready, watching out for those who commit what many riders believe to be the cardinal sin of driving: parking in bike lanes.

The lane-blocking culprits most firmly in his crosshairs, the CBC’s Metro Morning reports, are large vehicles such as armoured trucks and delivery vans. Ashley isn’t afraid to call them out on social media.

Noting that the act of ticketing a driver parked in a bike lane can be fraught with “unbridled aggression,” Ashley told the CBC, the idea of using Twitter to call them out is meant to avoid those tense encounters. In doing so, he said, more open lines of communication about traffic safety tend to be the result, something easier said than done in those tense, face-to-face moments.

“Sometimes people come back to the car and come at me as if I had parked the car for them,” Ashley said, adding that a frustrating—and potentially deadly—blase attitude about blocking bike lanes is a common trait of many such motorists. “There definitely is a sense of entitlement. ‘Oh, I’ll just be two minutes to grab that delicious cup of coffee.’ That already costs seven dollars.”

“By the end of an encounter with me,” he said, “it’s going to cost $157,” the penalty for blocking bike lanes in Toronto.

It’s a mission that Kyle Ashley carries out when he’s not in uniform, too, albeit without the leverage of enforcement in those cases. An avid, committed cyclist, he’s spending June—Toronto’s bike month—riding around the city on his own bike and documenting obstructed lanes, adding to a public dialogue about the need for better cycling infrastructure in the process. With 58 instances of dooring reported in Toronto this year alone—a number that Ashley suggests is likely much higher—that dialogue, he suggests, is needed now more than ever.

“We need to look at protecting cyclists,” Ashley said. “We need to have these dedicated lanes that are protected.”