Cyclist hit by Toronto police car in High Park prompts calls to diffuse police presence

A Toronto lawyer is calling on the mayor’s office to diffuse police presence in High Park after a cyclist was hit by a police cruiser while riding in the bike lane Tuesday evening

Lawyer David Shellnut, who often represents injured pedestrians, says the cyclist was at a four-way stop at the intersection of Center Road and Colborne Lodge Drive in the park alongside the cruiser when the cruiser turned right into the cyclist, “failing to yield the right of way.”

“Thankfully, the cyclist was able to hop off his bike and recover,” Shellnutt said in an interview with CTV News Toronto Wednesday. “But, for the better part of a decade, we’ve seen Toronto Police either not enforcing traffic laws or victim-blaming cyclists, and so we’re pushing back on this.”

When reached for comment, Toronto police confirmed there was a minor collision between a cruiser and a cyclist in High Park just after 6:30 pm on Tuesday evening.

“There were no injuries reported and traffic services are continuing their investigation,” a spokesperson for the force said.

Tensions between TPS officers and cyclists in the west end park have been rising in recent weeks. Last week, Shellnut filed a formal complaint on behalf of a cyclist who was allegedly ticketed by officers for going 6km/hr over the speed limit. The posted speed limit in High Park is 20km/h.

A Toronto cyclist was hit with a speeding ticket after going 6 km/h over the limit in Toronto’s High Park, a lawyer says. (@TheBikingLawyer)

A day before the collision, on Aug. 2, Shellnutt penned a letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory’s office asking to reduce police presence in the park after he claims a cyclist and woman of color was harassed by an officer in plain clothes in the park on Friday night.

“It would be wise to cool temperatures […],” Shellnut wrote. “We ask that the police refrain from harassing cyclists in High Park and instead dispatch City Staff and Cycle Toronto to assist in volunteer outreach and safety awareness in the park.”

Following Tuesday’s collision, Shellnut penned another letter in which he said he “feels like a broken record” and reiterated his request for the mayor to help in alleviating police presence.

When reached for comment, a representative for Mayor’s Tory’s office told CTV News Toronto that the mayor’s office does not direct police enforcement.

“The mayor wants everyone in High Park to be safe – he made that clear last week,” communications spokesperson Lawvin Hadisi said in the statement.

Tory has recently stood behind officers facing criticism for ticketing speeding cyclists in High Park, telling reporters that he believes they are “putting safety first” for all park users.

His office directed further inquiries to the Toronto police.

According to publicly available Toronto police data, between 2006 and 2020, there have been 16 incidents of cyclists striking pedestrians in which a serious or fatal injury was reported. None of those incidents were in High Park.

With files from Katherine Declerq and Chris Fox.

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