It doesn't take much to make bike riders happy. Smiles work wonders.
Relations between police and people who ride bikes have often been rocky. Most police drive cars and take the windshield view, and people on bikes feel ignored or worse. Sarah Goodyear put it bluntly, describing the New York City Police:
They don’t want to make people on bikes safer. They want to punish us for existing and complicating their lives. We all feel it. https://t.co/wCxryaNaVj— Sarah Goodyear (@buttermilk1) July 22, 2017
That’s why so many of us who have been complaining for years about life in the Fedex lanes were surprised at the success and ongoing popularity of Kyle Ashley, the tweeting, dancing and ticketing Parking Enforcement Officer keeping the bicycle lanes of Toronto clear. This did not sound like Toronto Police Services. In fact, I have been surprised that TPS lets him do this.
So now I am even more surprised to see that the TPS has doubled, no, tripled down, and assigned two more officers to bike lane duty, adding Sabrina Kloetzig and Erin Urquhart. And according to David Rider in the Star, social media is part of the job.
Parking enforcement, a unit of Toronto’s police service, decided to make the pilot project permanent and beef up the unit. Urquhart, a parking officer for two years but on a bike since last October, said she received training on how to use Twitter “to really get the attention of people without going too far over the edge, making sure I stay on the facts.”
Of course it would be lovely if the bike lanes in Toronto were fully separated so that this wasn’t an issue in the first place. The city is still a mess of disconnected bike lanes, construction blockages and politicians in the pocket of the suburban drivers. Thankfully, the Star no longer has comments online or they would be full of upper case ones screaming “WHY DON'T THEY TICKET THE CYCLISTS GOING THROUGH STOP SIGNS!”
But we get so few crumbs tossed our way in the bike lanes. It doesn’t take much to make a good impression, and these three smiling young officers do. Perhaps the New York Police department should give it a try.