Will the Police bike safety blitz be different this year?

Intrepid blogger (and community organizer) Mez was the only media at the press conference for the Toronto Police's "Share the Road" bike safety campaign launch on Monday. Being the only one meant he had plenty of time to try to convince the police present to do a better of job of targeting the worst offenders both on bike and in car, and not just the everyday cyclist. Mez can't help but to inject a bit of activism into his reporting:

1. Don’t set-up ‘sting’ operations in locations where cyclists are breaking rules in a harmless way, just to hand out more tickets. For example, a favorite spot is College and Augusta, ticketing cyclists who are turning south. Technically, it’s a one way street (northbound), but everyone knows that cyclists go both ways in the Market, and it works just fine. Handing out tickets there does not increase safety. It increases anger. (Especially when the police are giving tickets to customers of Bikes on Wheels who are taking a bike for a test ride on Augusta – This happened last year). Riding two-ways on a one way street is considered safe practice in many cities, and in some places it’s actually written into the law.
2. Let cyclists use a ‘rolling stop’ at stop signs. This means that they slow down, look both ways, and proceed. Again, this is common legal practice in some jurisdictions and for good reason: it works and it’s safe. Toronto’s Bike Blitz often sets up on Beverly, north of Dundas, where officers give tickets to any cyclist who does not come to a complete stop (by putting their foot on the ground). No discretion. No warning. $110 fine. Please, please tell me how this increases awareness or safety? It’s annoying, immature, petty and fits my description of ‘harassment’ to a tee.
3. Don’t just go after cyclists. You want to “reduce the potential for cycling related injuries”? Then put tickets on all those cars that are parked in the bike lane! They are the people who are putting lives at risk, not the cyclists who slow down at stop signs, or bike slowly south on Augusta.

Cyclist hit on Coxwell

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The Toronto Police are reporting (PDF) that a cyclist was hit and injured last night while riding on Coxwell Ave., north of Gerrard St.

On Thursday, May 7, 2009, at 11:07 p.m., police responded to a call for a personal injury collision on Coxwell Avenue, north of Casci Avenue.
It is reported that:

  • a 19−year−old man was riding his bicycle north on Coxwell Avenue, in the right lane,
  • a Safari van was travelling north on Coxwell Avenue, in the left lane,
  • the cyclist turned left into the path of the van and was hit.

The cyclist was taken to hospital with life−threatening injuries.

The cyclist was not wearing a helmet but was wearing headphones, which may have limited
his ability to sense his surroundings.

Although the cyclist is at the age where helmets are not mandatory for cycling, the use of one
has been shown to reduce head injuries when worn properly.

The story has been picked up by a few media outlets today too:

The Toronto Star reports that, "His chest was crushed and he suffered a closed-head injury to his brain. He was taken to St. Michael's Hospital in life-threatening condition, but he is now expected to survive."

NYPD says officer shown body-checking cyclist on YouTube is fired

Remember the video of the New York cop body-checking a cyclist? Well he's been fired or he's resigned, depending on who you talk to.

NEW YORK - New York City police say an officer seen in a YouTube video knocking a bicyclist to the pavement during a protest has been kicked off the force, although his lawyer says his client resigned.

Police officials say Patrick Pogan was dismissed last week. He was suspended last year after pleading not guilty to criminal charges of filing false paperwork.

His lawyer, Stuart London, says his 23-year-old client resigned and expects to be vindicated at trial.

Pogan is accused of knocking Christopher Long off his bicycle without justification on June 25 during a group-organized bike ride.

Pogan had arrested Long, saying the cyclist blocked traffic and steered his bike into an officer, but charges were dismissed after the video appeared on YouTube.

Update - Cyclist who was hit by cab - Driver charged by Police

Man faces six charges in fail-to-remain collision
Broadcast time: 11:28 Friday, November 21, 2008
Traffic Services

On Friday, November 14, 2008, at 2:27 a.m., police responded to a call for a fail-to-remain collision in the Dovercourt Road/Argyle Street area.
Sultan Ahmed, 38, of Maple, has been charged with:
1) Criminal negligence causing bodily harm,
2) Dangerous operation causing bodily harm,
3) Fail to stop at scene of accident bodily harm,
4) Attempt to obstruct justice,
5) Aggravated assault,
6) Assault with weapon.

He is scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall, on Friday, November 21, 2008, room 101, at 1 p.m.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1900, Crime Stoppers

Media Updates:

Igor's Bikes On Display Again

Torontonians will get another chance to claim thier stolen bikes from Igor. The police are holding one more series of open houses to display the recovered bikes at 35 Strachan Avenue

From TPS Press release
And from City News

Police have recovered a total of 2,865 bikes and returned 469 to their owners. The remaining 2,396 bikes will be available for viewing at 35 Strachan Avenue on the following dates and times:

Thursday, August 21, 2008 and Friday, August 22, 2008: noon to 8 p.m.,
Saturday, August 23, 2008 and Sunday, August 24, 2008: 10 a.m., to 6 p.m.,
Monday, August 25, 2008 to Friday, August 29, 2008: noon to 8 p.m.,
Saturday, August 30, 2008 and Sunday, August 31, 2008: 10 a.m., to 6 p.m.,
Monday, September 1, 2008: closed,
Tuesday, September 2, 2008 to Friday, September 5, 2008: noon to 8 p.m.,
Saturday September 6, 2008 and Sunday September 7, 2008: 10 a.m., to 6 p.m.

Those who attend to recover their bikes should be prepared to offer proof of ownership, such as receipts or store registrations. Owner identification will be required. Photo ID is preferred. Police officers will be present to register bicycles.

14 Division Superintendent Ruth White urged bike owners to register their bikes at the free TPS online bike registry. She said, "Take a few minutes to register your bike. It will make it much easier for us to return it to you."

Claim your stolen bike: public viewings

Please review and forward the information to anyone who has had a bicycle stolen. The Police need people to claim their stolen bikes to build the case against the accused, Igor Kenk.

Approximately 1500 bicycles have been recovered from the Igor's "Bicycle Clinic" on 927 Queen St W and other storage units. Many of them, if not the majority are stolen.

Public Viewing Monday July 21, 2008 10am-6pm - 9 Hanna Ave, Toronto

More public viewing to be announced when all the recovered bikes are sorted out...

Anyone with knowledge of more storage units of stolen bicycles associated to 'The Bicycle Clinic' operated by Igor Kenk... notify 14 division 416-808-1400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) , http://222tips.com or Text TIP312 and your message to CRIMES...

Facebook Group has photos posted of the volume of bikes...


Scott Mills
Toronto Crime Stoppers
Community Youth Officer
Legal Graffiti Art Coordinator

Influx of new cyclists: Problem or opportunity

It's no surprise to anyone that more people are riding bikes these days. It's in the news, the bike stores are busier than ever, and it's become harder to find places to lock your bike because of all the other bikes.

Still, it is good to see these new cyclists out on our roads because it makes all of us safer. This is known as the "safety in numbers" effect, where the crash and collision rates go down, as well as the injury and death rate, as the number of cyclists increases. The magic number on a road is about 50 cyclists/hour, or about one a minute. Above this threshold things become relatively "safe" and below this number things are much riskier. (Herb needs help collecting cycling data, please see http://www.ibiketo.ca/node/2309 )

Bicycling Mag on Critical Mass

Bicycling Magazine is finally shifting their focus a smidgen towards urban cycling issues with article on the founders and followers of Critical Mass.

From the article (we've got a ways to go to match Budapest!):

In Budapest earlier this year, 50,000 Critical Massers pedaled through the city on the last Friday of the month, paralyzing auto traffic. In Warsaw's Plac Zamkowy, where Masa Krytyczna is approaching its 10th anniversary, the multithousand weekly gathering is described as the living, breathing (and occasionally wheezing) heartbeat of the Central Europe underground. "You've got to go to Budapest," a swarthy London bike messenger named Pedro tells me. "It is wild." He is wearing a T-shirt that couples Einstein's image with his maxim that "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."

Meanwhile, Toronto Critical Mass was a fun experience as bike cops escorted cyclists around the city, blocking intersections until all the mass riders made it through. The cops behaviour was admirable, in my opinion, as they took their cues from the cyclists up front. They may have been trying to be a bit too orderly but that's just what they do and it did help to keep the mass together.

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