Tag Archives: Toronto police

Other Cyclists III

I always thought that if I’m knocked off my bike, it was going to be a car. But it was another cyclist.
The Awful Effects of Velocipeding
I was crossing Bathurst at Adelaide on a green light when another cyclist tore through red and slammed into my bike as I crossed the street, fracturing my ribs, injuring my face, destroying my front wheel, breaking my glasses. I was too injured and shocked to get his name and number, and by the time I realized what had happened, he was gone. The crossing guard saw everything. I had witnesses; I had a victim, but no perpetrator. I phoned up repair shops to see if anyone had brought in a damaged bike fitting the description of the bike that had hit me. No luck. Then one of the bike shops suggested I call the police. Maybe they have cameras where I was hit.
The two officers who came to my house were very kind, very sympathetic. They explained to me that, even if I succeeded in locating the person who had injured me, there was nothing they could do. I could, of course, take him to small claims court. If I found him, would they lay charges? No, they told me, this is not considered a traffic accident, so it’s not a matter for the police. So aren’t bicycles traffic? No, apparently not. The reasons turned out to be quite convoluted; they had something to do with bicycles not having license plates. But I have witnesses who are prepared to testify that he rode through a red light when he hit me. That doesn’t matter. Police, it turns out, will only lay charges if they see this happen with their own eyes.

Doored! goes Live!

In Toronto, York Region and Waterloo, a collision is defined as “the contact resulting from the motion of a motor vehicle or streetcar or its load that produces property damage, injury, or death.” This doesn’t leave room for the dooring of cyclists, and as a result, there are no police statistics covering incidents of dooring in Toronto. Nor are there any real incentives for motorists to be more cautious. The traffic offence that leads to dooring — improperly opening a vehicle’s door, or opening it longer than necessary — carries a maximum fine of $85. In 2011, just 118 people were convicted of the offences Ontario-wide. According to an article on the topic in the Star, neither the police nor the Ministry of Transportation seem particularly interested in changing the fines, or even in tracking incidents of dooring.

This leaves it to cyclists to track dooring incidents. Justin Bull has created a website to this end, Doored!, which just went live. It allows cyclists to self-report a dooring incident. And it provides an archive of these incidents. Already, there are 12 incidents listed.


What the usefulness or outcome of this initiative will be, remains to be seen. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, remember, if you are doored — even if you are not injured — get the license plate number, the driver’s details, phone the police to register an accident, and get visual documentation if you can. Then file an incident report on Doored!

My secret agreement with Toronto police


It seems I have an unspoken agreement with Toronto police. I live on a one-way street, and every once in a while, not very often, I will see a police cruiser driving casually the wrong way up the street. No warning lights, no siren, no emergency. I guess it’s just quicker and easier that way. I’ve considered stopping them and asking them to at least follow the rules and use their siren if they want to break the rules of the road. Or taking their number and reporting them.

Last week it happened three times on one day that I was cycling the wrong way up a one-way street and found myself staring straight down the windscreen of a Toronto police cruiser. Three times I murmured quick excuses to myself, casting my lot with the mercy of the keepers of the parking peace. But, bless them, they pretended they didn’t see me, I pretended I didn’t see them, and we both rode on with dignity preserved.

So they don’t report me and I don’t report them. That’s my unspoken deal with Toronto police. If it were the same officers, if it were an explicit agreement, you could call it corruption. As it is, I think of it as the human face of policing. And anyway, what did Brecht say about corruption?


“For humans, corruption is what compassion is for God.”