Toronto cyclist allegedly targeted with homophobic slurs, ran off road by motorist
Published Tuesday, January 31, 2023 3:56PM EST
The lawyer for a Toronto cyclist who claims they were run off the road after being targeted with homophobic slurs has penned an open letter to city council, criticizing the recent increase to the city’s police budget and calling for improved bicycle infrastructure.
The alleged incident, which occurred on Jan. 21, was captured on video and posted on social media.
“A cyclist was targeted by a motorist, first with homophobic slurs and then run off the road on Bathurst Street. The cyclist crashed and sustained a head injury as a result,” the letter, written by attorney Dave Shellnutt with The Biking Lawyer LLP, reads.
“An eyewitness caught the driver’s license plate as he sped off and confirmed to police that the driver had intentionally swerved into the cyclist.”
The video appears to show the cyclist turning into the right hand lane on Bathurst Street, seemingly attempting to avoid a driver.
Moments later, a vehicle appears to pull up beside the cyclist, causing them to crash and fall over onto the sidewalk. The vehicle is then seen speeding away.
The letter states that seven days after the incident was reported, the Toronto police officer assigned to the case got back to the cyclist advising them that the driver had been charged with “not allowing you to have the lane.”
But Shellnutt says that police “did not find that a collision occurred” and therefor no “proper” motor vehicle accident report was created.
“But for the intentional act of the motorist using their vehicle to hit and/or run our client off the road, this cyclist would not have had to take evasive measures and subsequently crashed into the curb,” he writes.
“From the video & witness evidence it appears that additional charges should have been laid against this dangerous motorist. Including: Intentional Act of Violence/Assault, Pass within 1 metre, Careless Driving Causing Bodily Harm, and Fail to Remain. None of these charges were laid nor was any comment from the officer provided about the hate speech.”
Toronto Police Service (TPS) did not immediately respond to CP24’s request for comment.
“As lawyers for countless cyclists injured intentionally by motorists who are rarely charged/under charged, it is astonishing to see the acts of violence on the TTC used to justify expanded policing and police budgets in the midst of the TPS budget being debated by council,” the letter reads.
“We see an endless stream of violence on our streets with none of this performative mobilization of the police force used by TPS and Mayor Tory to justify budget increases.”
The letter goes on to say that the solution to road violence against cyclists is the construction of additional protected infrastructure such as the Yonge Street bike lanes, automated ticketing and investments into mental health supports.
“We need bold leadership to address systemic issues of violence and inequity in our society, not more police,” the letter reads.