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.
A couple of brief mentions in the media here:
Not nearly good enough.Mon, 01/28/2008 - 09:13
So they're only going to do their job for one week in the middle of the freaking winter.
What about the rest of the year? Why do people get away with breaking the rules and endangering lives for the other 51 weeks ???
geoffrey (not verified)
final talliesMon, 01/28/2008 - 14:43
I want to hear statistics on the following:
vehicular cyclists charged with obstructing traffic
can-bike completers charged with obstructing traffic
motorists charged with passing (cyclists) not in safety or any other maneuver that put a cyclist at risk
number of charges against cyclists thrown out of court
funny. last may in all earnest i asked an 11 division officer and his partner (who refused to identify themselves) what cyclists could do about aggressive drivers. out of the blue he threatened to charge me with obstructing traffic if he saw me taking a lane. until police ignorance and prejudice is dealt with this will only be an exercise in demonstrating police believe cyclists are not entitled to public roadspace.
Wes (not verified)
low expectationsTue, 01/29/2008 - 18:02
Since I watched a cop park in the College bike lane at Huron St yesterday while he popped into Pita Pit, my expectations are understandably low.
Animated: Hear, hear!
Did you...Wed, 01/30/2008 - 09:13
...speak to the officer, report it, take a picture and send it to your councillor, the mayor or the police?
I'm not saying you should have done any of those things, but I would have been inclined to take some sort of action even if it was futile.
Last year...Wed, 01/30/2008 - 09:26
...the police conducted a similar operation and issued more than 1200 tickets to cyclists and almost 5,000 to motorists. Another project later in the year resulted in another 1200+ tickets to cyclists. But during the remaining 50 weeks of the year only about 150 tickets were issued to cyclists, according to PC Mig Roberts of Toronto Police Services. What this means is the police pretty much ignore cyclists unless there is a specific operation. 98% of all tickets are issued to cyclists during these 'blitzes.
Below, I offer a copy of the (as yet unpublished) article I wrote following my interview with PC Roberts:
By Joe LaFortune
Just mention cyclists to any Toronto motorists and they’ll be only too happy to tell you that cyclists don’t know the rules of the road and they never stop at red lights or stop signs. But is that true? Do the majority of cyclists run red lights and stop signs? Are cyclists less educated about the rules of the road than motorists? Or, are those who make such claims, conveniently ignoring the number of motorists who do the same things as cyclists and more?
According to PC Miguel Roberts of Toronto Police Services: Traffic Division, during the Safe Cycling Program conducted by Toronto Police Services from June 18-24, the peak period for cycling in Toronto, approximately 1,200 cyclists were ticketed compared to 4,792 motorists. Motorists faced a variety of charges not generally applicable to cyclists, however: speeding, seat-belt violations and parking in bike lanes among others.
Cyclists were cited for riding on the sidewalk, riding double, careless driving, no light or horn and unsafe lane changes, but 633---55%---of the charges were for running red lights and stop signs.
Realistically, there are approximately 400,000 daily cyclists riding through the 24-week peak period. Any one week period in June is considered an average week for the cycling season. 633 cited cyclists represent about 0.16% of all cyclists. Over an average year, a total of about 15 million cyclists are on the road in Toronto and with 0.16% running reds and stop signs that means cyclists run red lights and stop signs approximately 16-17,000 times annually. Because cyclists are essentially unidentifiable and the risk of being caught is low and the consequences negligible---they can’t lose their cycling privileges---cyclists likely knowingly violate certain rules when the opportunity presents itself, just as motorists do.
From November 12-18, police cited 521 vehicles for red light infractions and another 1,017 for failing to stop at stop signs. Almost all the offenders were motor vehicles.
In January, during a 5 day period, 684 motorists were cited for red light and stop sign offences. 549 more were charged during Operation Safe Journey from March 19-25. 1,500 more were charged with various intersection-related offences including running reds in an October week. It is estimated that, over the course of a year, motorists run reds and stop signs almost 80,000 times whereas cyclists run reds and stop signs only 21,000 times.
There are about 1.1 million local and visiting vehicles during any given mid-week day throughout the year, meaning 0.14% are running red lights and stop signs-almost exactly as many as cyclists.
But the accusations by many motorists are not just that cyclists always run red lights and stop signs, but that they don’t know the rules of the road either.
About 80% of all adult cyclists are also licensed drivers and, presumably, just as familiar with the Highway Traffic Act and the violations they are committing as everyday motorists.
So far, this year, 612,880 citations have been issued to motorists while cyclists have been ticketed 2,581 times. Over 368 million motor vehicles could have earned tickets. That means that about 0.17% of motorists have received tickets so far this year, compared to 0.18% of cyclists.
Not surprisingly, motorists pose a much greater safety risk to the public. While the same percentage of cyclists are running reds and stop signs, Roberts points out, he cannot recall even one instance of a collision occurring when a cyclist ran a red, but there have been 2 deaths among several red-light collisions in the first ten months of this year. Furthermore, there have been a total of 43 fatalities between Jan-Oct: 18 drivers, 8 passengers and 3 cyclist deaths this year as well as 19 pedestrian deaths, but that number is down from previous years. 4 motor-cyclists have also died. No deaths have been caused by cyclists and less than 10% of all accidents involving cars and bikes were the fault of the cyclist.
So, are cyclists more dangerous operators of their vehicles than motorists? Do they openly and flagrantly snub their nose at the law as many motorists claim? Are cyclists ignorant of the rules of the road? The answers are clear: No. There are more instances of motorists running reds and stop signs, but the same percentage of cyclists commit the same infractions. Motorists run red lights at high-risk intersections whereas cyclists usually commit their infractions at low-risk intersections and motorists---not cyclists---cause far more serious consequences when they run red lights and stop signs. But both motorists and cyclists try to get away with whatever they can whenever they can. And both need to stop.
I only yield at stop signsWed, 01/30/2008 - 10:23
Like most cyclists I routinely break one traffic law, rarely stopping at stop signs if the coast is clear.
Thankfully the cops overlook this practice unless there's an incident, I've never been ticketed in over 40 years. If they blitz for this, no wonder there's anger at cops, we want consistency in law application.
As a driver I never break that same law, it's just ingrained in me that it isn't done.
I believe there's one state in the US - Idaho, where cyclists can treat stop signs as yield signs, I wish the same was done here.
Me tooThu, 01/31/2008 - 10:48
I like to consider myself as a conscientious, considerate and intelligent rider. I make sure I am well lit at night. I ride in straight, predictable lines and I signal lane changes and turns when there are other vehicles that will be affected by my actions (if there's no-one around at all, I won't bother signalling). I don't listen to music when I ride and if my phone rings, I pull over to answer it or wait until I reach a safe place to pull over and check my voice mail. never operate my phone while riding. I also stop at all red lights, even when there's no crossing traffic. But stop signs---no. Those are yield signs to me. I choose my routes very carefully, purposefully avoiding cyclist-hostile streets in favour of less-congested and often wider one-way streets through residential areas where traffic is (allegedly) controlled by stop signs. When approaching, I stop pedaling, poise both hands on my brakes and I slow down, but if there is no motor vehicle or pedestrian approaching the intersection in any direction, I roll through. It makes no sense for me to come to a complete stop for no-one at all, losing what momentum I might have established. I believe Toronto should follow the example of certain jurisdictions in the US where stop signs have been designated as yields for cyclists, but even if it doesn't, I'm not worried. The police will only lay charges if the act is committed right in front of them and they have nothing better to do or if it's during one of the two 'blitzes' they conduct every year. During 28 years, I've never had an accident---not even a dooring or a fall---and I've never been ticketed either.
400 000 questionsThu, 01/31/2008 - 12:03
There seems to be a lot of math questions here.
"Realistically, there are approximately 400,000 daily cyclists riding through the 24-week peak period. "
This would peg the ratio of motorized vehicles to cyclists at appx. 3 to 1 using your figure of 1.1 million local and visiting vehicles (The motorized number seems consistent to most of the stats available). That means for every three motorized vehicles you see on the streets there is one cyclist. Statscan in 2001 reported the number of commuter cyclists in Toronto at appx. 20 000, the same comparison results in a ratio of 98:1. Much more realistic but does not account for the recreational user. If your 400 000 refers to the total number cyclists for the 24 week period you are off over 17000 cyclists a day based solely on Statscan's conservative numbers.
"There are about 1.1 million local and visiting vehicles during any given mid-week day throughout the year, meaning 0.14% are running red lights and stop signs-almost exactly as many as cyclists."
Math? 1.1 million mid-week day vehicles x .14%= 1540 red light/stop violations a day or some 400,400 violations per 52 five day periods. Compared to the 80,000 you assert.
"Over an average year, a total of about 15 million cyclists are on the road..." We need a lot more shrinks in this town of 2.5 million with all of the multiple personalities. If we are to understand the 15 million as the number of trips taken by cyclists it would barely account for the number of round trips taken by Statscan's conservative commuter numbers.
"Over 368 million motor vehicles could have earned tickets."
Wow! We have just as many vehicles as there are Americans on this planet.
"...Because cyclists are essentially unidentifiable and the risk of being caught is low and the consequences negligible---they can’t lose their cycling privileges---cyclists likely knowingly violate certain rules when the opportunity presents itself, just as motorists do."
Seems like an unnecessarily cheap shot. Maybe you would like to call on the province to slap licence plates on cyclists?
Hopefully this never publishes until the numbers are cleaned up.
No Debate For YouFri, 02/01/2008 - 15:18
I have no intention of getting into another...ahem...debate with you, Darren. Your personal feelings/hostility, etc. toward me are evident in every one of your replies to my posts.
But to address your concern, it is widely considered that StatsCan numbers are way off-base and always have been. The census---and I know this, because I filled out the forms as well---do not allow for multiple types of commuting to be indicated. The poll asks what is a persons primary mode of transportation, the mode used most often. Because most commuter-cyclists are only part-time cyclist-commuters who usually drive or use public transit from Oct-Apr, they indicate 'car' or 'public transit' and not 'bike' on the census as their primary mode of transportation and that is what StasCan goes by. Almost every other local environmental agencies cite much much higher numbers than StatsCan states.
Officials from both City Hall, Transportation division and Dan Egan's office as well as the police all confirmed that there are about 400,000 cyclist-commuters through the peak period and I have the recordings to prove it. If I'd chosen an arbitrary number, as you alluded to in a veiled way, I probably would have asserted a higher number, but I use quotes from those who know---or should know---not my own estimates. The 400,000 may not be out at the same time nor every day, but I believe it is a fairly accurate estimate of those who ride to work for much of the peak season.
There are no firm numbers to conclude decisively how many cyclists commuters there are in Toronto, unfortunately, but if you want to conduct a detailed census of every resident in Toronto of your own, I'd be interested in the results. Cheers.
Math does not lieFri, 02/01/2008 - 19:34
EnigManiac, I guess you are lucky that you can hide under my abrasive words. Unfortunately you cannot chose who reads and takes issues with your "numbers". Fortunately no debate is needed, math does not lie.
I looked for figures from the City of Toronto for cycling use. They provide a range of 2% of the total population to the figures that you are quoting. So lets stick to the latter.
Those "400 000" you quote according to the City make some 2,142,857 trips in a 5 day period in the peak season. Motorized vehicles make some 26,866,905 trips in the same period. In both cases they both make somewhat more in reality because I used an average for the week that included the weekend.
I took your figures for tickets June 18-24 period of 633 tickets for cyclists and 2635 (55%*Total tickets for motorists, you claim that they essentially violate at the same rate) for motorists with respect to stop/light violations.
This means that 0.02954% of cycling trips and 0.0098% of motor vehicle trips earn a traffic ticket in the stated peak period.
Now lets take your total numbers for the year. There does not seem to be any trip numbers available for the off season for cycling. So I will use three sets of numbers for the offseason, the high season for the entire year (522,142,857), half decline ((262,142,857+(261,070,000)), and a two third decline ((262,142,857)+(26*707,000)).
Total cycling tickets 2581/ total trips 111,428,564 = 0.0023%
-half = 0.0031%
-two-third = 0.0034%
Total motor tickets 612,880 / total trips 1,397,079,060 = 0.0044%
Lets consider the cyclists’ 0.0034% and the motorists’ 0.0044% numbers, seems it bodes well for cyclists. It does until you include kms travelled per trip into the equation. There are no clear numbers for either but if we use an assumption that cars travel further than cyclists the numbers become different. If cars simply travelled twice that of cyclists they are almost less than half likely to get a ticket per km - probably closer to five to one.
Contrary to your claim, none of this has anything to do with how good or bad cyclists are when compared to motorists. It only compares the risk of getting a ticket and results in telling us that cyclists are more likely to get one per km but less so per trip. In addition, I am no way convinced any of the numbers presented for cycling are near accurate. Willing to bet that they exist somewhere in the two extremes.
Who gives a shit about the numbers.Sat, 02/02/2008 - 10:14
Fact is, there are a LOT of cyclists that ride during the summer, and a surprisingly large number of year-round commuters.
The cops are practically declaring that they are only willing to do their jobs (traffic-wise) for 2 or 4 weeks per year. The rest of the time they're O.K. with drivers bullying cyclists onto unused side streets or off the roads altogether.
If they actually policed drivers, they'd make Toronto a friendlier place to ride. Hell, they might even save a life or two.
As for you two, I come to this site to get info on upcoming events, and to see how other cyclists feel about current Torontonian cyclist issues. Every tenth article* I come to, there's you two with a trivial back-and-forth about some kind of insignificant bullshit.**
I think we can all agree that there are a lot of cars.
And that they drive far.
And there are fewer cyclists, and they don't ride as far.
Who cares who gets more tickets per Km traveled, or who gets more tickets per actual infraction.
The fact remains that there are too many ignored infractions. For both drivers and cyclists.
If more people followed the rules, and if the rules were adjusted to be less car-centric, there's be a whole lot less confrontation on the road.
*results may vary. no math was done to reach this completely arbitrary figure.
**I know the numbers are significant, but not when you're both on the same "team", it seems a silly thing to argue about.
Animated numberSat, 02/02/2008 - 13:40
First thought Animated that comes to mind is why do you bother to read any of our posts if they disturb you so? I get junk mail at home, I do not read it, I simply throw it right away into the recycling.
I agree with you. I generally have no use for numbers. Yet they are one of the only ways to prove the existence of racial profiling. Specifically to this debate I do not think that any of the numbers for cycling use are reliable. Regardless of the numbers' warts, I think it does question quite well how effective the current scheme of enforcement is in reducing harm.
Please do not tell me what "team" I am on. I do not view cyclists as opportunistic imbeciles who "...knowingly violate certain rules when the opportunity presents itself." As far as I am concerned they are very intelligent caring human beings who can interpret situations appropriately. I could never be convinced otherwise.
You claim that too many of cyclists' infractions are ignored but offer zero evidence to support your fact. EnigManiac correctly pointed to the difference in harm between the two. What do you have besides hot air?
PS. I think you owe the Ibiketo webmaster a quarter for your potty mouth.
Take it outside!Sat, 02/02/2008 - 14:01
Take it outside!