The Traffic Violation Report is a Joke

I was nearly killed last Thursday. It’s happened before and it will probably happen again. But this time, I decided to get the police involved.

Despite being on a bike decked out in flashing lights and reflectors, I was nearly hit by a car last week. The driver made a left in front of me. I jammed on my breaks in time; he would have been too late with his. I definitely swore very loudly at him and then I definitely followed him for a block, reciting his license plate number. He parked outside of a school. I think he was late for his child’s performance in a Christmas recital.

While I was still shaking from the scare or from anger, I decided I would tell the police about this incident. I had heard something about reporting bad drivers. This guy, at the very least, deserved some kind of file. As soon as I got home, I called the non-emergency police number. Some woman transferred me, while I was mid-sentence in an explanation, to a helpful man, to whom I had to re-explain everything. He made the process of filing a driver complaint seem pretty straight forward. I could even go to any station to do so.

Today, I went to the 52 Division station. I explained to a woman behind a long counter that I was nearly hit by a careless driver and wanted to file a driver complaint.

“You mean a report?” she asked.

“Yes. Fine. A report then.”

She then had to ask a very large man about the details of such a report.

“It’s for that person over there,” she said to the large man as she pointed at me.

The large man nodded. He then walked to one of the desks behind the long counter. He sat, tapped the mouse, looked around and got up. He came out from behind the counter, on the left, walked behind me and then left through a door on the far right wall. I found myself blessed with some time to read the whiteboard of traffic fatalities for the year. As of today, the Toronto Police have only had two cyclist fatalities, one within 52 Division’s jurisdiction. While I was waiting, a man came in and asked if he could get a copy of the charges that have been pressed against him. He couldn’t.

The large man reappeared through the door. He passed me and went behind the counter.

“So, what do you want?” he asked.

I explained my situation.

“So, you were cut off,” was the large man’s précis. “Where did it happen?”

I was prepared for this. After all, I was once a security guard. I know the necessity of having clear documentation of an incident. Places and names—those are what the police need.

“Dupont and Palmerston.”

“Where’s that?”

His curtness and denseness were getting to me so I tailored my next response just for him.

“That’s north of here.”

The large man’s buddy threw him a bone.

“It’s Honest Ed’s country.”

The large man then explained that I’d have to go to 14 Division as the incident happened in their jurisdiction. I protested. The nice man on the phone had said I could file the complaint or report or whatever it was called at any station. The large man said they were very busy and it would take three hours. I’m not sure if he heard me thank him for his help as I was walking away when I did so.

At the 14 Division station, two women were ahead of me. An officer was explaining that they couldn’t travel with the police who had to pick up the women’s step-father and take him to the hospital. However, one of the women would have to present some papers to the police when they picked up the step-father.

“When will the police arrive?” asked the woman.

“I can’t say,” said the officer, “This will be put on a priority list. It depends.”

This situation made perfect sense to the officer, but not to the woman. She would be back, anxious for more clarification, before I would leave the station.

When I got an officer, he had to find out how one files the type of thing I wanted to report. It turns out that the thing is called a Traffic Violation Report.

I was seated across from the officer’s desk as he took down the details. It felt like something out of a cop show.

“So you were cut off?” the officer asked.

“Well, yes.”

“What do you want us to do?”

Find this shitty driver and bitch-slap him. Then, when you are done, you and your friend at 52 can sit on your batons’ and spin… or so my thoughts ran.

“Well, this is were I need some clarification,” I said, “I would like the driver to be aware that he was really careless and drove dangerously. I want it official. Is this the right process for that?”

“You want him charged?” asked the officer.

“No. No. More like a warning.”

“All right.”

The officer got down to typing in the details with his two index fingers.

After a bit, he paused and blurted, “You from the city, man?”

The question caught me way off-guard.

“I’ve been here a while. Why?” I said checking for straw behind my ears.

“You know, this kind of thing happens all the time.”

“Yes I know. It’s happened to me many times, but there’s got to more I can do about it than yelling at the guy’s tail-lights.”

“That’s what I do. Get some instant gratification.”

Educational. In so many ways.

I don’t know if I can totally fault the police for their condescension and unwillingness to help. They do have more pressing matters than a cyclist to was nearly killed/just cut off. This is the city and bad drivers are a fact of life. Really what can you do, except maybe find more creative ways for getting instant gratification?

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