Wait a minute: no demerit points for cyclists

Well, well. Toronto's finest have been known to lay some dumb charges against cyclists over the years. Like the infamous tickets for not putting your foot down when stopping at a stop sign. Now, for many years, I have heard lots of reports about them trying to hand out demerit points to those cyclists who had a driver's license while handing out tickets. I think not. Read below and please contact Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists if you have been treated that way over a traffic ticket while riding your bike.

The following is the official word from the City about this issue:

Correction: The June issue of Cyclometer contains incorrect information about the Highway Traffic Act as it applies to bicycles. We apologize for the error. Please note of the following correction:

The HTA defines bicycles are defined as vehicles. As vehicle operators, cyclists are subject to most of the same HTA requirements as drivers of motor vehicles. However, there are some important differences. The application of demerit points is an important difference.

According the the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, "the demerit point system only applies to certain offenses committed in a motor vehicle. However, I understand that on rare occasions demerit points are in error assigned to the driving record of an individual for an offense committed on a bicycle. When the Ministry of Transportation is notified of such occurrences, the error is immediately corrected." (1993 letter from Ontario Minister of Transportation to the Chair of the Toronto Cycling Committee)

Safe Cycling Police Campaign starts

Mayor let off with warning?Mayor let off with warning?

Be aware, cyclists! Starting today, Toronto police are "campaigning" for safer cycling (pdf). In theory it means education and enforcement of cyclists and motorists. What it means in practice is that police wait at intersections to catch cyclists making the all-to-common mistakes of doing a "rolling stop", not making proper signals, not having a bell, not having reflective tape on the front and back forks, or of riding through the crosswalks or sidewalks. In practice the education part means police will encourage cyclists "to refresh themselves with the rules of the road" by giving out fat traffic infractions.

West End Bike Blitz

Last week, Toronto Police Services 11 Division sent out an email regarding a week-long bicycle safety blitz starting today. The blitz covers various parts of 11 Division, including The Junction, High Park, Roncesvalles, and Bloor West Village.

They will be cracking down on cyclists who disobey traffic rules, especially sidewalk cycling. They really made sure to spell out the details of the sidewalk cycling bylaws and how they are enforced. No word on whether they will also crack down on motorists parked in the Runnymede bike lane, joggers in the High Park bike lane, or motorists doing crazy stuff pretty much wherever they please.

You can read the text of the email below.


blockquote>The 11 Division Traffic Unit has received a number of community complaints related to traffic safety issues within the division. In High Park both bicycles and motor vehicles frequently speed and fail to obey stop signs within the park. Additionally, bicycles ridden on the sidewalk endangering pedestrians is a problem in Bloor West Village, The Junction and in Roncesvalles Village.

A traffic safety initiative to address these concerns comprised of both enforcement and educational components will commence on Monday 05 May 2008 and conclude on Sunday 11 May 2008. Any traffic related concerns can be directed to 11 Division’s Traffic Unit by phoning 416-808-1100.

Pedal Power vehicle not "unsafe"

I was sent this link this afternoon, which is of a human powered vehicle, essentially a four wheeled bike that was once a Buick Regal.

Back on Oct 25, 2007 Toronto Police Const. Derek Walsh ticketed Dean Baldwin, who was the driver of the vehicle at the time, with driving a vehicle that was "Not even close to being legal."

The charges came before the court yesterday. The judge dropped the charge because the vehicle wasn't a motor car, which meant the specific charge of operating an unsafe motor vehicle didn't legally apply.

In the news:

Bike Cops


Bike Cops on RunnymedeBike Cops on Runnymede

This morning I found an article in The Bulletin about Toronto Bike Cops, titled Cops on two wheels more responsive, claims bike patroller.

It touches on many issues that most cyclists probably already know: cyclists can get around faster than motorists or pedestrians in many urban areas, people can interact better when they're on bikes rather than inside cars, and of course that cyclists are quiet and stealthy!

There's also a bit of insight into what bike cops do, how they go about their patrols, etc.

I certainly would like to see more police on bikes rather than sitting in their illegally parked idling cars. :-) I would also like to see more parking enforcement and bylaw officers on bikes too. Maybe this would help them understand cyclists' frustration with certain motorist behaviours (aggressive driving, illegal parking, etc.).

You can read the article here.

Toronto Police: 2008 Traffic Issues Survey

Toronto Police Services have a new 2008 Traffic Issues Survey online.

This questionnaire was designed to find out how you feel about traffic issues in Toronto, and the Toronto Police response to these issues. Your answers will be strictly confidential and your participation is appreciated.

The survey starts out by asking if you're primarily a motorist, passenger, transit user, cyclist or pedestrian. Let's get some cyclists to provide answers!

Bad CabbieBad Cabbie

Questions on this survey span various topics such as collisions, responses to collisions, what factors influence traffic flow, satisfaction with the police, neighbourhood issues, city-wide issues, and much more.

Please take a few moments to fill out the survey and let the Toronto Police know how cyclists feel while riding on city streets. You can answer it online until march 14th.

TPS: Operation Safe Commute

Truck Blocking College St. Bike Lane

Monday morning update: TPS now has a press release online, in PDF format.

This email arrived on Friday January 25th via the Toronto Police Service 14th Division mailing list:

Traffic Safety continues to be an ongoing priority of the Toronto Police Service.The daily commute in and out of Toronto involves approximately 1.2 million vehicles. All users of the road share the responsibility of making this daily commute safe. A safe and orderly commute in and out of the city contributes significantly to a better quality of life for all citizens. High traffic volumes contribute to reduced road safety as well as increased driver frustration, commute times and congestion. Commuter frustration often results in aggressive driving, traffic signal violations, misuse of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, illegal parking and general traffic gridlock. The Toronto Police Service will be initiating a zero tolerance enforcement campaign entitled "Operation – Safe Commute". The campaign will commence on Monday, 2008 January 28, and conclude on Friday, 2008 February 01. All police officers and parking enforcement officers will be paying particular attention to all infractions that impede the safe, orderly flow of traffic.

Sgt. Roy Sorgo #469014 Division, Traffic Response Unit

They will probably be issuing more tickets to motorists, pedestrians AND cyclists this week. Watch for it.

But maybe we can also take this as an opportunity to get the police to take action against motorist behaviour that endangers cyclists! Zero tolerance, right? If you see someone parked in the bike lane, call it in! Someone cuts you off? Call it in! Harassed by an aggressive driver? Call it in!

Let them know that cyclists are still out on the roads in the winter, and that we demand respect from other road users. Police should be cracking down on the people who wield the most dangerous weapons against the most vulnerable.

Keep these phone numbers with you:

  • Traffic Services: 416-808-1900
  • Parking Enforcement: 416-808-6600

And of course, if something ever happens to you out on the road, please consult the ARC Library for some suggestions on how to follow up.

No, it's not OK for them to ride on the sidewalks

I just came back from the 22 division's police station. I went there to have my complaint heard. Staff sergeant Glen Dewling (#2704) was good enough to listen to my complaint. He was prepared with his paperwork to hear my complaint about a specific officer. After reading my letter, he realized that it wasn't a specific officer I was complaining about, but the "we" in the officer's comment, as you'll see in the letter I wrote to them.

Glen Dewling was impressed with the letter. He did not know that sidewalk cycling was a factor in about 30% of crashes and collisions. He also did not know some other facts I presented. As he had no pre-set process or procedure or forms for handling this complaint he offered to copy and share the letter both with the Traffic Sergeant and his boss. I hope that it helps, but it is likely not enough.

My hope in publishing the letter here, I can inspire you to be better a better cyclist, a better mentor and teacher, and a better cycling advocate. And I hope that you can also share some ideas with us here to further the cause.

The letter I wrote is this:


blockquote>To Everyone, as it likely concerns you too;

Yesterday my daughters had their swimming lessons after school. We rode our bicycles there as it's not too far. The roads were still wet from the recent rain, and we were getting strong "skunk stripes" up our backs, but the threat of more rain had passed.

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