They Are a Danger to Ontarians with Disabilities On Our Sidewalks, Roads and Other Public Places.
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
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February 12, 2020
This is an AODA Alliance call to action, wherever you live in Ontario, and especially right now if you live in or near Toronto! Please help us get your local politicians to not allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in your city, town or region of Ontario. They endanger safety and accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities and others. We don’t need any new barriers created in Ontario against Ontarians with disabilities. This Update gives you quick, easy-to-use tips on how to help. It also gives background to this issue.
How You Can Help Protect Ontarians Against the Dangers of E-scooters
We are asking Ontario’s cities and towns something simple but important: Don’t allow e-scooters in your community! They are a danger to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities and others, as we explain later in this Update! It’s easy to do. City and town councils don’t have to do anything! If they do nothing, the ban on e-scooters stays in place in their community. The trouble only starts if a city or town council passes a bylaw that allows e-scooters in that community. We know the e-scooter rental companies are working hard to get them to do so, starting with Toronto. We need our municipal politicians to give priority to the people, including people with disabilities, rather than those corporate lobbyists.
The City of Toronto is now considering whether to allow e-scooters. Other cities will watch Toronto to follow its lead, and may be looking into this issue right now. It is therefore especially important to keep e-scooters out of public places in Toronto, such as our roads and sidewalks.
Here’s what to do, wherever you live in Ontario, and especially if you live in Toronto.
* Phone, email, write OR TWEET your member of City Council and your mayor. Tell them you don’t want e-scooters in your community. If you don’t know their name or contact information, call your community’s city hall, or dial 311 to ask for this information.
* Send your mayor and municipal council members the powerful January 22, 2020 open letter on the dangers of e-scooters to people with disabilities, from 13 major disability organizations. It is meant for all the mayors and councilors in Ontario municipalities. It explains in full detail why e-scooters are such a problem and what they should do to protect the public, including people with disabilities. Tell them to listen to you, a voter, and not to the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies. At the end of this Update, we list the 13 disability organizations that have already signed this important open letter. The link to our open letter is: https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/major-disability-organizations-open-letter-to-the-ford-government-and-ontario-municipalities-dont-allow-electric-scooters-on-our-roads-sidewalks-and-public-places-because-they-endanger-our-safe/
* Ask your municipality’s Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee to pass a motion that recommends that the municipality not allow e-scooters. On February 3, 2020, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee unanimously passed just such a motion. If you are a municipal accessibility advisory committee, you can present this motion yourself! Share our open letter on e-scooters with this committee to give them all the background they need, as well as the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee’s February 3, 2020 motion .
The Toronto motion unanimously stated:
“The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee recommends to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee that:
1. City Council prohibit e-scooters for use in public spaces including sidewalks and roads, and direct that any City permission granted to e-scooter companies be guided by public safety, in robust consultation with people living with disabilities, and related organizations serving this population.”
* Let us know if your municipality advisory committee passes a motion against e-scooters, so we can keep track of these.
* If you live or work in Toronto, you should also send your member of Toronto City Council the AODA Alliance’s February 6, 2020 letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory. For that matter, send it to Mayor Tory too, just as we did. Let the mayor and your member of council know you agree with it.
* Let your local news media and call-in radio stations know that you don’t want e-scooters in your community. Share our e-scooters open letter with them.
* Spread the word on social media like Facebook and Twitter. If you follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds, you can share or retweet our regular posts on this important topic.
* Tell your family and friends about this issue. Share this Update with them. Urge them to swing into action too!
* Get a disability organization with which you have a connection to add its name as a signatory to our e-scooters open letter. They just need to give us permission to add their organization’s name, by writing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Let us know what you do, and what answers you get. And let us know about any other ideas for action that you try.
Background on The E-Scooter Problem
As recent AODA Alliance Updates have reported, last fall, the Ford Government passed a new law which threatens to create serious new barriers for Ontarians with disabilities . It enacted a new regulation that lets any municipality in Ontario permit people to ride electric scooters in public places in their communities. Up until now, e-scooters were banned from public places in Ontario.
Under this new provincial regulation, a municipality can lift that ban on e-scooters just by passing a bylaw allowing e-scooters in that community, including on roads and sidewalks. If a municipality does this, an uninsured, untrained unlicensed person as young as 16 years old could be silently racing towards you at 24 KPH. You won’t hear them coming because e-scooters are silent. If you are blind, you won’t see them coming. In other communities where e-scooters have been allowed, they have led to people being injured or even killed.
Corporate lobbyists convinced the Doug Ford Government to allow this in Ontario, and to ignore our serious disability concerns. They represent companies that rent e-scooters. Their businesses make money because they have e-scooters left around a city in public places like sidewalks, for people to rent on the spot. For people with mobility disabilities, these can block an otherwise-accessible sidewalk. For people with vision loss, they are a tripping hazard. For everyone, they are a blight and an eyesore.
List of the 13 Disability Organizations that Signed the January 22, 2020 Open Letter on Electric Scooters
Note: Since we initially released this letter, two additional organizations have signed it, the Ontario Disabilities Coalition and the Brain Injury Society of Toronto. They are included in this list. 1. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance 2. March of Dimes of Canada
3. Canadian National Institute for the Blind
4. ARCH Disability Law Centre
5. Spinal Cord Injury Ontario
6. Ontario Autism Coalition
7. Older Women’s Network
8. Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
9. Guide Dog Users of Canada
10. Views for the Visually Impaired
11. Citizens With Disabilities Ontario
12. Ontario Disability Coalition
13. The Brain Injury Society of Toronto