Tory meets with Cycle Toronto as more cyclists are ticketed in High Park

By Lucas Casaletto

Mayor John Tory says he met with Cycle Toronto, the city’s largest cycling advocacy organization, to reach a middle ground as many bike riders speak out over being ticketed by police while riding in High Park.

Tory confirms he met with representatives of Cycle Toronto after the organization penned a letter to the mayor last week calling for action due to “recent and escalation tensions between people on bikes and the Toronto Police Service.”

Several cyclists have come forward in recent weeks alleging misconduct and excessive enforcement in the form of tickets being handed out by local police. One man, in particular, says he was fined over $100 for allegedly rolling at a stop sign at High Park.

One day later, another cyclist said a police officer who struck him while riding his bike through High Park was seen giving other riders traffic tickets earlier in the day.

In a lengthy statement, Tory confirmed on Wednesday that he met with Cycle Toronto to discuss High Park, given the “recent public discussion of traffic enforcement there.”

“I am working to ensure this ongoing discussion can focus thoughtfully on how we can achieve safety for everyone — including cyclists — and I welcomed Cycle Toronto’s request for a meeting,” Tory said.

“I have also encouraged them to meet with city staff undertaking the High Park movement strategy and with Toronto Police directly, who are responsible for traffic enforcement.”

Tory said he’s “open to innovative solutions” to help all park users, including cyclists, and noted that both parties “discussed specific ways in which the city can work with Cycle Toronto to help increase public education efforts in the short-term and the longer-term as part of the High Park movement strategy.”

toronto mayor john tory

Toronto mayor John Tory speaks alongside Ontario Premier Doug Ford during a joint press conference inside Queen’s Park in Toronto Monday, June 27, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston.

“I want everyone to be safe in High Park and everywhere else in the city. That includes pedestrians, seniors, families, cyclists, TTC riders, motorists — everybody,” Tory added.

“I was clear in our meeting that necessity involves everyone — every road user — respecting the law and accommodating each other. Is there a greater onus on car drivers to respect the law? Absolutely.”

“I’ve also been clear that given the death and destruction that someone behind the wheel of a motor vehicle can cause, drivers must obey the law on our roads, and we have worked non-stop to increase police enforcement and deploy automated speed enforcement cameras and ramp up other enforcement tools including red-light cameras,” Tory said.

Keagan Gartz, Executive Director of Cycle Toronto, said the mayor voiced consideration of a car-free pilot seven days a week in High Park.

“We thank the mayor for taking swift action to meet with us and for being receptive to our ideas that support everyone who uses High Park,” said Gartz. “Our commitment to the mayor’s office is to keep the dialogue open and use engineering and education to reimagine and improve our city’s shared spaces.”

Tory: The majority of traffic enforcement is on vehicle drivers, not cyclists

Earlier in the month, Tory strongly defended the actions of police officers, saying local enforcement has been doing their job and that the criticism was uncalled for. The mayor singled out cyclists and mentioned the increased risk of injury.

On Wednesday, Tory admitted that the “vast majority of traffic enforcement is on vehicle drivers” in the park, noting that TPS has confirmed that to be the case.

“I hope Toronto Police will make public the minimal number of tickets issued to cyclists or for cyclist-related offences in the High Park area,” Tory continued.

“I believe it will help put this entire conversation in context. I support the work police are doing, exercising their own discretion in response to community complaints.”

Toronto’s mayor concluded by saying he hopes the meeting with Cycle Toronto “will help ensure we all are working together to make sure the park is safe for everyone who enjoys it at all times of the year.”

The City of Toronto says a survey is asking residents about their priorities and preferences for the existing route through High Park, including roads, driveways, parking lots and paved trails.

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