Toronto police and their campaign to protect cyclists

Jun 13, 2017 | Features, News

A car ends up in the bicycle lane in downtown Toronto (Courtesy: Toronto Star).

By: Jane Burke

Toronto Police spent June focussed on the contentious relationship between cars and cyclists with a new campaign aimed at protecting commuters on two wheels.

The S.P.A.C.E project (Safety, Prevention, Awareness, Courtesy, Education) dedicated an entire week to promoting vigilance about dooring, cars crossing bicycle lanes when turning, and vehicles stopping in bicycle lanes.

Cycle safety is coming up more often in the Toronto Police Service’s agenda and signifies an increasing trend towards a more cycle conscious Toronto.

Heat map of dooring incidents in downtown Toronto (CycleTO).

According to a study carried about by the advocacy group CycleTO, dooring incidents in Toronto are on the rise, with 516 incident reported to police in 2016.

Vehicle collisions with cyclists are also up, with more than 3,500 reported in 2016.

Keeping with the cycle safety trend, police have asked parking enforcement officer Kyle Ashley to dedicate his job and social media to cycle regulations.

“The biggest infractions motor vehicles commit is parking or taking up dedicated bicycle lanes,” said Ashley.

Ashley has a popular twitter account where he calls out people disregarding cycling laws and he’s become a local cycle superhero.

“It’s about protecting vulnerable road users,” said Ashely.

As someone who frequently handles road infractions, Officer Ashley’s biggest message for all road users was to be thoughtful.

“Be kind and be courteous to each other, I know traffic is frustrating but try and be kind and courteous to other road users,” said Ashley.

Right now, the City of Toronto is facing major decisions about cycling infrastructure and changes to traditional transportation methods.

One of the city’s main streets, Bloor, is hosting a bicycle lane pilot project in the downtown west area.

Just weeks ago a five-year-old child was hit and killed by a vehicle after steering off an unprotected bike lane and onto Lakeshore Boulevard.

Toronto Police Service also released a video to promote the S.P.A.C.E campaign, acting out common avoidable accidents.