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Police 'do not deserve to be criticized' for ticketing speeding cyclists in High Park, Tory says

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Mayor John Tory is standing behind police officers who have faced criticism for ticketing speeding cyclists in High Park in recent weeks, telling reporters that he believes they are “putting safety first” for all park users.

Tory made the comment to reporters during a press conference on Tuesday morning.

His comment comes after a lawyer for a firm representing injured cyclists said on Twitter that he would be filing a formal complaint on behalf of a client who was ticketed for cycling at a speed of 26 kilometres an hour within the park.

The posted speed limit on roads within High Park is 20 km/h.

“When I heard this debate going on with respect to why should anybody pay attention to any of this I thought well that would be great for a world in which there are only cyclists in High Park but there are other people there and we have to establish a safe balance between all those different activities and no group can have their rights supersede the rights of others,” Tory said.

“If somebody was to get struck by one of those cyclists travelling at a high speed and badly injured then what discussion would we be having about that? Some of you would be saying where were the authorities to ensure people wouldn’t be put at risk like that?”

Toronto police have previously told CTV News Toronto that both members of 11 Division and the City of Toronto have received complaints regarding cyclists and vehicles travelling at a high rate of speed in High Park.

CP24 cameras saw dozens of cyclists breezing through an intersections in the park without slowing or stopping at the clearly visible stop sign.

Speaking with CP24 at the park Tuesday evening, lawyer David Shellnut said the real problem is outdated infrastructure.

“We have some outdated infrastructure that's been dropped here and people that it wasn't designed for are having to navigate it,” he said, referring to the park’s design. “We want everybody to be safe and follow the rules of the road, of course, you know, within reason.”

However he questioned why police would focus enforcement efforts on cyclists in the park when a nearby road has a demonstrably worse track record in terms of death and injury caused by vehicular traffic.

“The fact that people are scaring pedestrians on the road, we don't want that at all,” Shellnut said. “But what we do know is that the incidence of injury and serious injury caused by cyclists in the park pales in comparison to what happens just one street out here on Parkside Drive.”

He said the problem should be solved through better signage and design, not police enforcement.

Speaking with reporters earlier in the day, Tory said that there ultimately needs to be a “balance” between the interests of cyclists and other park users, including people who might be walking or pushing a stroller.

As part of that, he said that he is “looking into” whether there could be some flexibility shown to cyclists during early-morning hours when foot traffic in the park is lighter.

But he said that he “won’t apologize” for the fact that police would “enforce the law.”

“If we can find a time where more of the roads are available to cyclists and it wouldn’t matter as much so it is safe for them and everybody else maybe we can do that. But at the moment I just think the police are doing their job and they do not deserve to be criticized for that because there are safety issues here,” he said.

Shellnut said that in the interim he’d like to see the park made completely car-free and have the space shared between pedestrians, cyclists and people with mobility devices.

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