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Twitter's favourite cyclist cop lands full-time Toronto bike lane beat

Toronto police officer Kyle Ashley has made a name for himself calling out drivers who block bike lanes on Twitter. Due to his resounding success, his role is being extended.

Kyle Ashley, a bike cop, is drawing attention to drivers who park in bike lanes.

Eduardo Lima / Metro

Kyle Ashley, a bike cop, is drawing attention to drivers who park in bike lanes.

The Toronto Police officer who calls out drivers on Twitter for blocking bike lanes will see his role extended.

Twenty-nine-year-old parking enforcement officer Kyle Ashley received training for social media at the police college last month and was an instant hit when he started tweeting in mid-May. Because of the resounding success of his online messages and the support from local cycling organizations, the police force is extending his role to the end of June.

Using the Twitter handle @TPS_ParkingPal, the avid cyclist shares cycling safety tips, advice to drivers, and has even made heat maps highlighting cycling problem spots.

Ashley says the reaction has been “incredibly positive,” and that the results speak for themselves. He points to his Twitter analytics, which indicate his cyclist-friendly tweets have received 800,000 impressions over the past month.

“It’s a long-lasting presence that goes beyond my eight hours on the road,” he told Metro.

Ashley adds his role came about because he saw that there were overlooked cyclist issues, and identified with their needs.

“People were crying for change on the bike lane issue,” he said, adding his role as the police force’s social media bike champion came out of one popular tweet he posted.

But the mission has grown since then.

“Over the course of this month it’s evolved into me getting data, mapping that data and asking the community ‘do these areas reflect your problems?’” Ashley says he wants to figure out the differences between police data and cyclist feedback to figure out where the police can do a better job.

“We want to give the community a voice,” he said.

Asked about his goals for the next month, Ashley says he wants to increase awareness.

While Ashley doesn’t know whether his role will become permanent, he says the police college is committed to training more parking enforcement officers, and that they have been happy with his results so far. 

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