Toronto Police "Safe Cycling" Campaign Results

Police Ticket Taxi in Bike LanePolice Ticket Taxi in Bike Lane

This is a followup to last week's article.

Toronto Police Services posted a press release with the results of last week's 'Safe Cycling - Share the Responsibility' campaign:

'Safe Cycling - Share the Responsibility',
Campaign update,
4,841 tickets issued

Broadcast time: 13:48
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Traffic Services

On Sunday, June 24, 2007, the Toronto Police Service concluded the one-week `Safe Cycling - Share the Responsibility' campaign. This was the third initiative undertaken as part of the Service's comprehensive traffic safety strategy, "Operation Safe Journey".

Officers issued 4,841 tickets to motorists and cyclists who were found committing offences. Of the tickets issued:

  • 2,870 tickets were issued to motorists for offences such as opening vehicle doors improperly and failing to yield to cyclists,
  • 1,444 tickets were issued to cyclists for disobeying traffic signals and failing to yield to
  • 478 tickets were issued to cyclists for bicycle equipment offences,
  • 49 parking tickets were issued for parking in designated bike lanes,
  • 891 motorists and cyclists were cautioned for a variety of related offences.
  • 13 bike rodeos, involving 674 participants, were held across the city.

All motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians have a responsibility to work together to ensure their
road safety. Everyone is reminded to obey all traffic laws and to be diligent when using city

For further information on the `Safe Cycling ­ Share the Responsibility' initiative, please
contact Constable Stephen Burns at 416-808-1919 or Sergeant Tony Lawson at 416-808-1926.

Constable Wendy Drummond, Public Information, for Constable Stephen Burns, Traffic

So...did anyone notice any difference on the city streets last week during this blitz? Any experiences you want to share? Did you get ticketed by the police, or see a motorist get ticketed?

It looks like the focus was on the motorists, since twice as many tickets were issued to motorists than cyclists. However, I'm surprised that they only issued 49 tickets for parking in the bike lane! And I wonder what the breakdown of "bicycle equipment offences" was? I hope it wasn't just for cyclists without bells.

Back to business as usual this week.


What is the point of 1/3 of the tickets to cyclists? Though bad cycling can be a danger to others, what would the ratio be in a city not biased to the car, by a class of people (police) not biased to the car, if the ratio was aimed to reflect the relative direct-injury, much less indirect-injury, each vehicle causes? 1 to 10? 1 to 1000 if indirect-injury is taken into account? How many people have been killed by bicycle this year? How many by car?

I could live with a stupid fine which does not reflect how we are forced to cycle to remain alive in this city (I did put a useless bell on my roadie to avoid the fine, though I yell when needed as that MIGHT get heard), if twice as many fines went to car drivers... for longer than a week.

Not that I like it either, but...

I would think that point of ticketing the cyclists is so that cyclists are not putting themselves at risk by their own behaviour.

While most of us know that a bell and reflective tape on stays and forks are not at all that important in motor traffic, the law still requires these.

But we also know know where poilce 'abuse' their power, and I think that is what we are all resentful about. And while we have stupid laws, the police an excuse to hand out tickets for stupid reasons.

I'm guessing most of them would be for not having a bell.

I use a bell on one of my bikes, but I haven't got around to putting one on the "rain" bike. I guess I should. I've found my bell to be next to useless with pedestrians anyway.

In terms of the reflective tape on the forks and stays: does the HTA mandate this for all bicycles, or just those that are being ridden at night time? I don't do lots of night riding but I use the requisite lights when I do. I don't use reflective tape, but I guess I should.

I phoned the officers listed in the press release this morning. Left a message for Const. Stephen Burns, and spoke to Sergeant Tony Lawson.

Sgt. Lawson was friendly, but didn't have any numbers for the breakdown of equipment tickets. He said these tickets are typically for not having bells, and not having lights at night. Pretty much what we already know.

Another thing he mentioned is that these traffic safety campaigns are also intended to educate the officers, and to encourage them to continue these types of enforcement activities beyond the blitz weeks. Hopefully this means we'll see more tickets for bike lane driving/parking offences and unsafe passing, and not just more harassment of cyclists without bells...

The problem with most equipment tickets is that it is the result of Cherry Picking. The cop pulls you over and does a once over to find something in violation. That in itself is illegal,they must first see something illegal before they pull you over. If you are in a car they can pull you over and strip the car down to find violations.

Ontario Government has put out a nifty little handbook called Cycling Skills (how poetic). In the back it lists the parts of the HTA that pertains to bikes. Not sure where to get it as a colleague gave it to me but I am guessing the Ministry of Transportation. May even be online.

HTA 75(5) states that all bikes require a bell or horn

HTA 62 (17) states that all bike require white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on the back. it also states that you must have a white light in front and red light OR reflector on the back of bike if you are riding any time, 30 mins before sunset up until 30 minutes after sunrise.

My guess is that the cops will only stop you if theya re having a slow day or a bike safety blitz has been mandated.

Hope this helps.

Ah yes, the evil six-cyclinder-headed car rears its ugly head again. It would be interesting to do a study of how many times cars are demonized in cyclist blogs and comments... Very frequent I assume. I wonder if we possess as much mental real estate in the minds of drivers? Curious thing that. BTW, I dont' drive a car, my wife is an environmentalist focused on carbon reduction so uses the family car only when absolutely needed.

Just wondering in what context that Aiden is using his unheeded bell. I use it constantly and find that most other cyclist take notice ( I usually ring before passing) and pedistrians who are about to jay walk usually take notice. I do notice that the occasional jay walking pedestrain who is already mid-way cross the road tend not to take heed as they are more focused on surviving their risk taking jaunt.

I don't bother ringing to alert motorists as they tend to have their windows closed, music blaring or cell phone wedged to their ears.

I have bells on all of my bikes, but I really don't use them much. They're pretty useless for alerting motorists.

The only time I ring my bell is if someone starts jaywalking without looking towards me. I use them on the trails more often though, but those aren't covered by the HTA. :)

I have an Air Zound horn on one of my bikes that I use pretty infrequently. Mostly as an afterthought though. Usually when I REALLY want to use it I'm too busy braking/swerving and yelling. Or when some dirtbag is parked/driving in a bike lane infront of me.

What you are looking for is s.218 of the HTA.

  1. (1) A police officer who finds any person contravening this Act or any municipal by-law regulating traffic while in charge of a bicycle may require that person to stop and to provide identification of himself or herself. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 218 (1).

(2) Every person who is required to stop, by a police officer acting under subsection (1), shall stop and identify himself or herself to the police officer. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 218 (2).

(3) For the purposes of this section, giving ones correct name and address is sufficient identification.R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 218 (3).

(4) A police officer may arrest without warrant any person who does not comply with subsection (2). R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 218 (4).

You will have to compare this to s.216 which applies solely to motorized vehicles. If you can prove that a cop pulled you (as a cyclist) over before seeing a violation you have also proved that he has violated your Charter rights.

Posted on Raise the hammer:

Some good comments in there too, particularly Sean Burak's letter.

Ticketing cyclists for not having bells and/or reflector tape on the bike looks like petty harassment to me. Many bicycles (as the coroner's report on cycling safety points out) no longer have wide enough forks to take the strips the HTA technically requires. As for bells, give me a break. How any times in the last year did the Toronto Police Service pull over motorists and make them honk to prove their horns worked?

On the other hand, if the tickets went to cyclists riding at night in "stealth" mode (no reflective clothing, etc.) then I hope the experience convinces a few people to spend a couple of bucks on lights and batteries.

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