Toronto's Tweeting, Crusading, Bike Lane Clearing Parking Enforcement Officer Kyle Ashley Is Shut Down

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It was too good to last.

Relations between pedestrians and cyclists in Toronto are often rough; the feeling is that police tend to take the windshield view of things. That's why Parking Enforcement Officer Kyle Ashley was so refreshing and unusual, tweeting his way through his day keeping the bike lanes clear. I wondered how he could keep this up, but even his boss loved it, telling David Rider of the Star that Kyle..

...has been instrumental in a very short amount of time in engaging, appealing and listening to the concerns of the cycling community via social media. This was a community in which we lacked engagement previously. Kyle’s consistent engagement, determination, and dedication to duty has been noticed and appreciated by all levels in our organization.

Much to my surprise, the Police Department tripled down and hired two more young internet-savvy enforcement officers; I wrote that "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."

Alas, that was then. As of today, Kyle Ashley has been shut down. David Rider writes in the Star:

“We’ve had some complaints about some of what he’s been doing,” [Police spokesman] Pugash said in an interview Friday. “We’ve had concerns and that has escalated and while the complaint and the concerns are being looked into it’s been temporarily suspended. “We’ve had numerous complaints and concerns and we thought the prudent thing to do is investigate them and suspend the account while that’s going on. We’ve had complaints ranging around the appropriateness of some of the things that he’s been posting on Twitter.”

In the end, I am not at all surprised that there have been complaints. I suspect many were from other cops; his Twitter account attracted a lot of cyclists using it as a tip line, and as noted in an earlier post about police blocking bike lanes, cops don't have a lot of sympathy for complaining cyclists. I wrote at the time that "I do worry about the few comments in there complaining about Kyle Ashley, and would not be surprised if the police turn on him if this keeps up."

He often made his personal views known, like what he thought about Ontario's proposed distracted walking legislation. I am not at all surprised that the plug got pulled. It was all too good to be true. After all, this is Toronto.