Keep @TPS_ParkingPal Kyle Ashley on the bike lane frontlines
Jul 6, 2017 — Parking enforcement officer Kyle Ashley is being relocated from Toronto Police Services headquarters, raising fears among the cycling community that vehicular traffic will once again block bike lanes with impunity.
A news story published in the Toronto Star on Wednesday quoted Brian Moniz, TPS officer in charge, who said that in addition to PEO Ashley's move to a ticketing centre on the fringes of the city's downtown core, the police have unspecified plans to increase bike-lane focused officers.
PEO Ashley has made a massive impact and garnered huge respect from the cycling community in Toronto. While on his daily rounds, he interacts with followers on social media, tweeting images of vehicles parked illegally in bike lanes and broadcasting useful information and reports. Due to his experience cycling around the city, PEO Ashley has also helpfully pointed out some of the danger zones where he sees bike lane infrastructure could be improved.
Moniz told the Star he is moving PEO Ashley from headquarters due to a mentorship stint in corporate communications coming to its predetermined end.
There are some indications that PEO Ashley's dedication to his role and his efforts to represent the cycling community may have "ruffled feathers" in the city, according to the Star. The newspaper reported that Moniz said PEO Ashley should leave comments about the inadequacies of the cycling infrastructure to the chief city planner and her department.
On Wednesday, Moniz retweeted a picture of PEO Ashley in a meeting with chief city planner, Jennifer Keesmaat (@jen_keesmaat) from his @TPS_Brian account.
PEO Ashley's Twitter followers responded to the news story in the Star with concern, using the #bikeTO hashtag.
"Listen & leverage Kyle's feedback is good for #YYZ and reflects reality #BikeTO," tweeted supporter Ray Adamson (@RayAdamson) in response to the newspaper story, using the #YYZ hashtag to refer to Toronto.
"Charismatic cop going after bike lane parking violations is 1 thing, but talking about the REAL problem - infrastructure - well, no," tweeted Martyn Schmoll (@martynschmoll).
"Good. Ruffle more feathers. Ruffle all the feathers," tweeted Twitter user @astewart91 in response.
Who is better placed to speak the truth than a parking enforcement officer working on the streets "to serve and protect" the community regardless of whether it ruffles feathers?
Moniz told the Star that PEO Ashley's work has been "extremely successful," showing the need for more bike lane enforcement officers.
PEO Ashley will be allowed to tweet, but he will not be as involved with media publicity as he has been over the past month during the TPS bike lane ticketing "blitz," according to the Star.
He has been a voice for the cycling community, leading many to believe the police and the city were invigorating their practice of acting on the concerns of cyclists at risk.
Also on Thursday, cyclists are gathering to remember cycling advocate Gary Sim (@GarySim) who tragically died this week after being hit by a car at a Toronto intersection. Details can be found by searching under the #bikeTO hashtag.
PEO Ashley's efforts in speaking up on behalf of cyclists and the risks they face instead of paying lip service to the status quo are deeply respected by the community.
On Wednesday, PEO Ashley reported his ticket tally for the day on his Twitter account: "3 accessible (450$), 11 #bikelane (150$) & 25 misc (no stop, no stand, etc) offenses."
Many thanks to everyone who has supported the petition and for all the amazing comments in support of PEO Ashley and safe bike lanes.
"Twitter bike cop forced to tone it down, but Toronto’s bike lane campaign could get a boost"
"Cycling advocate killed while riding his bike"
Picture credit: Picture of PEO Ashley and City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat from @PEO_ParkingPal's (Kyle Ashley's) Twitter feed.
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