Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Web: https://www.aodaalliance.org Email: email@example.com Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/
March 5, 2021
We’ll have more news to report to you over the coming days about the disability community’s campaign to protect Torontonians with disabilities and indeed all of us from the injuries and accessibility barriers that would be suffered if Toronto wrongly decides to allow electric scooters (e-scooters). Here is just some of the latest news.
1. On Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 5 pm EST, CNIB is hosting a virtual public forum to talk about the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities and others, and to give you ideas on how to help oppose e-scooters. The announcement, set out below, tells you how to take part. Please sign up. While it says it focuses on the dangers to people with vision loss, everyone is welcomed, regardless of their disabilities. We are in it together.
2. Please encourage everyone to watch our captioned 15 minute video on how to help us get Toronto to reject the idea of allowing e-scooters. The video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDdTJt9NK14&feature=youtu.be We have gotten so much great feedback on it.
3. It is illegal to ride an e-scooter in Toronto in public spaces like roads, bike paths, and sidewalks. Despite that, some people are buying e-scooters, and then riding them in public. Toronto’s law enforcement need to enforce the law, to protect the public.
The February 24, 2021 Toronto Star included an article reporting on stores that sell e-scooters. It is set out below.
That article quotes AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to the effect that police should enforce the ban on riding e-scooters.
Not addressed in this article, in a breathtaking example of trying to capitalize on illegal use of e-scooters, some e-scooter corporate lobbyists argue that because there are some people buying e-scooters and riding them illegally, the City of Toronto should allow rental of e-scooters. Yet two wrongs don’t make a right. There are assaults going on in our society, contrary to the law. The solution is not to legalize assault.
Stay tuned for more on this issue. For more background, read the AODA Alliance’s February 22, 2021 brief to the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. Visit the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page.
CNIB Announcement of March 9, 2021 Virtual Public Forum on How to Fight Against Electric Scooters
The Dangers of Electric Scooters Town Hall
Date: March 9, 2021
Time range: 5:00 pm-6:00 pm
CNIB has partnered with David Lepofsky of the AODA Alliance (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance) for a special meeting on the issue of e-scooters and their dangers to the low-vision/blind community. Join us as we discuss how we can all take action to ensure Toronto leaves in place the ban on electric scooters.
This meeting runs via Zoom web conference on March 9from 5 to 6 p.m.Eastern Time. Call in information will be given upon registration.
Please be advised that you must register for all programs. We kindly ask you to RSVP a minimum of 1 full business day before the start of the program.
Registration required.To register for this meeting, please contact Neisha Mitchell, Coordinator Advocacy and Outreach at Neisha.Mitchell@cnib.caor call416- 525-7951
Toronto Star February 24, 2021
E-scooters are selling fast in Toronto, retailers report. The catch: they’re illegal on city streets |
Barry Nisan, owner of Epic Cycles on Dundas Street West, says e-scooter owners need to respect the law and other road users. “If people are riding on the sidewalk, they shouldn’t be,” he says. By Ben Spurr
In an article posted to its website last month,
a company called TekTrendy outlined the “key benefits of using e-scooters in Toronto in 2021.”
The electric-powered kick-style scooters “help save time, save money and make travelling more fun,” according to the Toronto-based company, which is just
one of a number of retailers selling e-scooters in the city and whose site lists four models for sale, ranging in price from $699 to $1,099.
“Many of our customers happily use their scooter to commute to the nearest TTC (stop),” the company reported.
There’s just one catch: in Toronto in 2021, it’s illegal to ride e-scooters on city streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, trails, or virtually any other public place. (TekTrendy’s website does advise customers to check the regulations in their area).
The devices are allowed on private property, however, and it’s not illegal to sell them. That grey area has helped foster a growing retail trade that’s troubling to critics who warn e-scooters pose a safety risk. “It is a loophole that needs to be investigated,” said Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 13, Toronto Centre).
She chairs the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, which opposes legalizing e-scooters on the grounds the near-silent vehicles can harm blind people and others with accessibility challenges if they’re ridden or parked on sidewalks. “Unless somebody has a very large backyard that’s paved over that they plan to exclusively use that e-scooter in, there’s a very good chance that they’re going to take it out” on public streets or sidewalks after they buy it, “and none of that is permitted,” she said.
She acknowledged that outright banning their sale in Toronto may not be the best solution, because a prohibition could easily be circumvented through online retailers. The committee is set to debate e-scooters Thursday.
TekTrendy didn’t return requests for comment. It’s far from the only company selling e-scooters in Toronto, however. A handful of independent retailers offer them, and Canadian Tire lists at least six models available at its Toronto locations.
Barry Nisan, owner of Epic Cycles, said demand for e-scooters is growing fast. He recently opened a new location in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood, in addition to his flagship store in Vaughan (where officials say e-scooters are also barred from public roads). His shops primarily sell electric bicycles,
but he said sales of e-scooters have quadrupled every year since he started stocking them about four years ago. He estimates Epic sold close to 500 of them last year.
Nisan said he informs customers e-scooters aren’t permitted in on Toronto roads. Asked whether it’s responsible to sell vehicles that aren’t allowed on public rights-of-way, he said e-scooter owners need to respect the law and other road users. “If people are riding on the sidewalk, they shouldn’t be. The same as you shouldn’t be riding bicycles on the sidewalk,” he said.
He predicted authorities will soon allow e-scooter use more widely. “We’re excited about it. We think it’s a great solution to commute and travel, and for getting out and having fun,” he said.
Last year the Ontario government took a step toward legalization by launching a five-year e-scooter pilot project. To take part, municipalities have to pass bylaws setting out where the vehicles are permitted. Ottawa has opted in and is reporting positive results so far, but Toronto has yet to take part
despite a flurry of lobbying from e-scooter companies at city hall.
Last June, a city staff report said e-scooters had the potential to be a convenient, low-cost transportation alternative, but it also flagged concerns about safety, lack of enforcement resources, and legal liability.
According to the city, research from Europe shows scooter riders are four times more likely than bicyclists to injure others. Because e-scooters aren’t covered by insurance providers, staff warned accident victims will sue the city if they get hurt.
E-scooter companies dispute research that says the vehicles, which under provincial rules must top out at 24 km/h, are unsafe, and argue they’re no more dangerous than bikes.
The city report recommended Toronto consider joining the provincial pilot if staff concerns could be addressed, and set a tentative date of May 2021 for opting in. But last July council members voted to refer the matter back to staff for more study. They’re expected to report back in April.
In the meantime, it’s not clear to what extent the city is enforcing the current ban on e-scooters in public places. A spokesperson for the Toronto Police said she couldn’t immediately provide details of e-scooter enforcement.
David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, said “the police need to vigorously enforce the ban on (e-scooters) now.”
City spokesperson Diane Morrison said city staff are aware “some residents (are) using e-scooters illegally” and “we are monitoring those uses.” She said
the city recommends retailers “properly inform their customers of the status of the use of e-scooters on public roads.”
Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org