3 Toronto police officers unite to safeguard city's bike lanes
3 full-time officers dedicated to ticketing motorists in bike lanes
They call themselves the "Bike Lane Squad."
Kyle Ashley — the Toronto parking enforcement officer who made it his mission to keep the city's bike lanes safe — is now part of a team of three.
Sabrina Kloetzig and Erin Urquhart joined Ashley this week as full-time officers dedicated to ticketing motorists in bike lanes, while armed with their smartphones, tweeting and putting a spotlight on offenders.
The team will be cruising through the streets of Toronto Monday to Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
"As far as bike lanes go, we'll go there," said Ashley. "We are really looking to expand our reach from just the core we've been focused on to the entire city."
Since it is the team's first week, they have been biking together, but as they get more comfortable, they will disperse and go their separate ways, Urquhart said.
Eventually, Kloetzig and Urquhart will focus on the areas east of Spadina Road, while Ashley will focus on the west.
Sabrina already at it on Gerrard st. all three of us are riding together <a href="https://twitter.com/TPS_ParkingPal">@TPS_ParkingPal</a>. Say hi, we'll be makin our way to Adelaide <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/biketo?src=hash">#biketo</a> <a href="https://t.co/KaVsx3J9GN">pic.twitter.com/KaVsx3J9GN</a>—@TPS_BikeHart
Twitter presence a hit
At any given time, Ashley's phone buzzes with tweets about bike lane infractions or what he calls "a bat signal, or rather a bike signal."
Since starting his social media-focused crusade, Ashley has gained over 5,000 followers and got Canada Post — which he calls one of the "worst offenders" for blocking bike lanes — to change its ways.
Last week, the Crown corporation vowed to stop parking in bike lanes while making deliveries or pickups throughout the city.
<a href="https://twitter.com/TPS_ParkingPal">@TPS_ParkingPal</a> they got the memo at <a href="https://twitter.com/canadaposthelps">@canadaposthelps</a>, even if there's still some way to go. Keep up the good work. <a href="https://t.co/4RtoSvxEns">pic.twitter.com/4RtoSvxEns</a>—@graemedmoffat
While Ashley has found success solo, he said having the team will be a game changer for bike safety.
"Having the three of us out there and really circulating the [cycling] networks and catching the offences along the way is really what's going to push this program forward and really prove to the city and to people that biking is a viable mean of transportation," he said.
Urquhart, a parking officer for two years before joining the bike team, has embraced the social media tools, and said there have already been many tweets this week with complaints from different areas of the city.
"There are numerous areas where people are tweeting us and that's what we want," she said. "We want to know where the problem areas are so we can go and enforce and educate people."
Ashley, who has been cycling his whole life, said what they are doing is for the good of everyone on the streets.
"This is not a war on car. It's a war on things that are unsafe."