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Bikers Beware! Your wallets are in danger!

by Alex Hutchins October 11, 2016
Bikers Beware! Your wallets are in danger!

Cops litter the Maisonneuve bike path with their cash-grabbing tactics

One of my favourite weather-permitting pastimes is biking. Even in Toronto, where I’m from, I cycled everywhere—to school, to meet friends, to work. As a student, I’ve been using my bike for years to cut back on transportation costs. In all those years, I never once got a ticket while on my bike. I’d never really even considered it. But a few weeks ago, I got a ticket for not making a complete halt at a stop sign—and I am beyond pissed off.

I was biking along a typically quiet, low-traffic section of the De Maisonneuve bike path, around 2:30 p.m. I slowed down as I approached an intersection somewhere between Clarke and Greene Ave but, after seeing it was clear, I decided to continue through, mainly to keep my momentum—which hundreds of bikers do all the time—and it all went smoothly. There were no car-bike or bike-bike altercations. Yet next thing I knew, a whistle was blaring behind me. I stopped and turned around to see what had happened, only to find this G.I Joe-like officer running towards me at full-speed.

It was all so overly-dramatic—the chase, the questioning, the identification process. I mean, I truly could not believe it was me that he was pulling over. I was issued a $48 ticket, which although it isn’t a substantial amount, it still puts a decent dent in my already-too-small student budget.

I thought I was the anomaly until, within 24 hours of being issued my ticket, I found at least two other cyclists on social media who received tickets for going through stop signs. These two cyclists were ticketed in front of Laurier Park and at the corner of Bellechasse and St Dominique, according to two Facebook posts on the MTL Trading Hole page.

The whole situation reached another level of ridiculous when the officer ticketing me attempted to reassure me by saying: “I’m issuing you this ticket in the name of road safety.”

Hold up. Rewind. Let’s pretend that my ticket was truly issued “in the name of road safety.” Firstly, I would have been pegged in an area where the safety of road-users is legitimately threatened. For example, Melville Ave, where cyclists would be emerging from Westmount Park, having gained speed through the sloped, winding paths. This is blocks away from Clarke Ave though, and had I been flagged there, I likely would not be writing this article. But was an officer stopping cyclists there? Nope.

Because you see, fellow bikers, these cops don’t get into their cruisers wanting to make our roads safer. The Montreal police have admitted previously that “officers in the city’s special traffic squad are given traffic ticket quotas,” according to CBC News Montreal. Following this is a statement highlighting how the police didn’t admit to traffic quotas earlier because “it would have created negative publicity,” reports the same CBC News article. Does this sound as though all this ticketing is truly “in the name of road safety?”

And to what avail? The issuing of this ticket to me and a few other bikers won’t cause some societal cathartic re-evaluation of how we navigate and share the roads. It’s time we find a more effective solution—something that really is in the name of road safety.

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