Wednesday, October 31, 2007

toronto cops mean business

Although this happened very close to my (soon-to-be former) apartment in Toronto, this isn't my story, but my friend Oliver's story.

In the Dundas, Parliament, Queen, River area, you have a nice collection of bike lanes. On the east side of the Don River, Dundas Street has a great bike lane, and on the west side of the river, Gerrard has a bike lane, and so do Shuter and River Streets. Oli was commuting to work along Shuter on the first day of school this past September, when he approached and passed a cop car parked in the Shuter bike lane.

As he moved into the car lane to pass the cop, Oliver muttered "WHY?" through the cop's open window, and then just kept cycling along. Behind him, Oliver hears an engine roar to life, and almost immediately the cop has caught up to Oli, and swerved to a stop in front of him - the car diagonally blocking all of the bike lane and most of the car lane (both on the westbound side of the street).

The cop gets out and starts off with "how you doing?" and then he and Oliver have a brief conversation about why the cop was parked in the bike lane. His story is that he was on-duty keeping an eye on the school crossing just up the road to catch anybody running the crossing.

The discussion quickly turns into "What's your name? / Let's see some I.D.?" What do you need to see I.D. for? "You don't have any I.D.?" Will my old (orange and white with no photo) health card be okay? "You don't have any photo I.D.?" UNTIL Oli finally hands over his driver's license.

The cop disappears into his car to check to see if Oli's record is clean (which it is), but also seems to grab a binder to check for cycling regulations to see if he can nail Oliver for anything. When the cop struts back out of the car again, his first words are "So where's your bell buddy?" and he ends up writing Oliver a ticket for $120.00 for not having a bell on his bike.

While all this happening incidentally, a SECOND squad car has pulled to a stop ahead of the first car, and the second car is parked on an angle taking up part of the eastbound lane and the rest of the westbound lane that the first car hadn't stopped. So you have two cops causing a traffic jam all in the interest of harassing a cyclist.

Moral of the story? Don't question the authority of the toronto cops. They'll find a way to make you pay.

And yes, Reno 911: Miami was completely juvenile, but I still have a soft spot for that kind of thing.

And don't eat red meat.


Smudgemo said...

Can he take it to court? Get it reduced? Make the city spend money and time on a ridiculous ticket? I know I would. My friend did and wrote up his experience here:
(just search for cops, tickets, etc.) Pretty funny.

Revrunner said...

Uhm, those are might tight pants for a street cop, don't you think? Sort of reminds me of the caricatures you see of certain super heroes. :-)

Dude said...

I've heard similar and worse stories here in Winnipeg at last months Bike to the Future forum - the swerve/ block traffic/send cyclist careening into parked cars to avoid collision with cruiser tactic is in vogue out here too. Fight the ticket, I say.

K said...

I was writing a post for my blog, researching taxes and bicycles in Canada and stumbled in here. Very neat blog.

This post reminds me of a ticket I got this past summer for blowing a stop sign that I run daily. The police were set up that day to catch people just for this offense. Why do I run the stop sign? For the very reason that the police are there issuing tickets, because most cars run the stop sign! I'd be retarded to stop just so some idiot can give me a chrome enema. The cop didn't agree.

Tim said...

Cops are absolute losers. I can't believe that they would actually do that. Still, be grateful that you have bike lanes and cops that give you tickets (as opposed to knocking your lights out). I'm in Moscow at the moment. I have not seen a single bike lane. The 2 cyclists I did see rode on the sidewalk - a sidewalk that cars drive on during rush hour to avoid lineups, incidentally.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I just got pulled over by a cop while cycling along St. George street in UT campus. He issued a $110 ticket for fail to stop at a 3-way stop sign. His reason being that had I answered "No" when he asked me if I stopped, he wouldn't give a ticket. However, I thought he was refering to the traffic light stop just one block down. I feel this is purely harassment as none of the cars nor bicycles actually came to a full stop when he was issuing the ticket and I was the only one got pulled over. More ridiculously, in the plate number section, he wrote "Raleigh", which is my bike's brand name. Good job, toronto cops! Just to think that I'm actually paying for their services.