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Alumnus' blitz making TO streets safer

by Adela Talbot, BA'08, MA'11 | October 13, 2017

In just one day on the job, in less than two minutes, Kyle Ashley had issued six tickets – at $150 a pop – to drivers stopped or parked in bike lanes nearby the Eaton Centre along Toronto’s Shuter Street. And that’s just a tiny glimpse into the #BikeLaneBlitz campaign initiated and carried out by Ashley, BA’12 (Psychology and Anthropology), a parking enforcement officer with Toronto Police Service, during the month of June.

“This past May, I noticed there was a huge gap in the service we were delivering to the community. The sides of our cars say, ‘To Serve and Protect,’ yet people think of parking enforcement as a collection scheme to make money,” Ashley said.

Cyclists in Toronto have felt especially alienated in this regard, frequently voicing concerns over vehicles parking and stopping in designated bike lanes, jeopardizing cycle safety.

“My commander sent me to the Toronto Police College for social media training. I was told, ‘Here’s the tools; here’s how you use them. Find your voice, find your community and be a part of it.’”

Ashley reached out to Toronto’s cyclists over Twitter, under the handle @TPS_ParkingPal. Soon, responses, requests and praise flooded his account. Cyclists were requesting his presence on streets where drivers, taxis and companies making deliveries frequently stopped and blocked bike lanes. They sent photos of stopped vehicles. They thanked him for what he was doing.

In May, Ashley snapped a selfie with a driver he ticketed for stopping in a bike lane. The driver, a cyclist herself, agreed to the photo, which Ashley shared on Twitter, attracting widespread media attention, ultimately sparking the #BikeLaneBlitz that would follow next month.

“The cycling community previously felt ignored by the Toronto Police Services and the city. I tapped in with them to show I’m there, and I’m listening. The response has been positive to parking enforcement and that people feel we are making a difference is nice.”

This article appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of Alumni Gazette
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