Toronto’s cycling community is outraged but not at all surprised over a report that a group of police officers used a downtown bike lane as their personal parking lot, only to be spotted returning a short time later with Tim Hortons coffee in hand.
X (formerly Twitter) user Karl Martin shared photos of two police cars parked in a bike lane on University Avenue just north of Dundas Street West, stating that the blockage was “putting cyclists at risk.”
Martin said at the time that the police business “doesn’t look like much of an emergency,” noting the officers returning casually, holding Tim Hortons coffee cups. He added that the photos were captured “coincidentally just 2 minutes’ walking distance from 52 Division.”
— Karl Martin (@KarlTheMartian) November 9, 2023
Several X users have responded to the report — which has not been independently verified by blogTO — characterizing police parking in bike lanes as a perceived disregard for cyclist safety.
Police enforce auto culture not road safety.
— Pepper’s Popper (@SJ_Hurley) November 9, 2023
One comment called on Mayor Olivia Chow to step in, saying, “we need to see action against this behaviour” and adding that Toronto Police “are out of control.”
— Photography by Douglas 🍁📷🍁 (@DarkWaterPhotos) November 9, 2023
blogTO contacted the Toronto Police Service seeking an explanation early Friday morning; however, police representatives have yet to acknowledge the request as of mid-afternoon.
Personal injury lawyer and cyclist rights advocate David Shellnutt commented on the photos, telling blogTO that “police parking in bike lanes is an all too familiar sight in Toronto.”
Despite this, Shellnutt acknowledges that “we always defer to them being there on emergency services as permitted under municipal by-laws.”
Shellnutt says that he remains “hopeful that, in the vast majority of cases, parking in the bike lane is a last resort for TPS who are otherwise engaged in important and perhaps life-saving work.”
“Because to do so without urgency means that cyclists are forced to dangerously exit bike lanes into faster-moving traffic. We have cases where people on bikes have been injured because of cars (not police, mind you) parking in bike lanes.”
However, Shellnutt notes that “it has been reported to us, and we have ourselves witnessed police parking in bike lanes to pick up dinner or coffee,” adding that “this is contrary to the city bylaw and dangerous.”