Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
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July 24, 2020
At its meeting on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, Toronto City Council has on its agenda the question whether to unleash electric scooters (e-scooters) on the people of Canada’s largest city. The AODA Alliance calls on Toronto’s Mayor John Tory and City Council to resoundingly reject e-scooters. They are a proven danger to the safety of the public including people with disabilities. They will create new accessibility barriers for people with disabilities in a city that already has too many disability barriers and that has done too little to remove those barriers.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Toronto’s City Council should be spending all its time on far more important things than the agenda of corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies. Those companies would stand to profit while Torontonians bear the financial costs and suffer the serious personal injuries.
Below we set out a statement to Toronto City Council on this issue by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. We encourage you to:
* Contact members of Toronto City Council. Their contact information is available at this link https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/council/members-of-council/
Urge them to reject e-scooters for Toronto. At the very least, they should set this issue aside while the COVID-19 pandemic engulfs our society, and spend all their time on issues that are important to the people of Toronto, including people with disabilities.
* circulate this statement to your local media and urge them to print this statement and cover this issue.
* Post this statement on your social media. Spread the word to your family and friends. Ask them to support our cause.
Send us your feedback. Let us know what you can do to help our cause. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more background:
Read the AODA Alliance’s July 8, 2020 brief to the City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee, already endorsed by Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and the March of Dimes of Canada
Read the open letter to all Ontario municipal councils from 11 major disability organizations, opposing e-scooters in Ontario, and
Read the AODA Alliance’s July 10, 2020 news release explaining what happened at the July 9, 2020 meeting of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee where the AODA Alliance and others presented on this issue.
Visit the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page.
Statement on Electric Scooters by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky
Toronto Should Not Allow Electric Scooters Which Endanger Us All
City Council must not unleash dangerous electric scooters in Toronto! They are banned, unless Council votes to allow them.
With the COVID-19 crisis raging, why is Toronto’s City Council even discussing whether to allow electric scooters? Why are they doing this in the middle of the summer when the public isn’t looking?
A new City Staff Report amply documents that e-scooters pose a real danger to public safety in places that have allowed them. Riders and innocent pedestrians will get seriously injured or killed.
They are especially a danger to seniors and people with disabilities. A blind pedestrian like me can’t know when a silent e-scooter is rocketing at me at over 20 KPH, driven by a fun-seeking unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmetted rider. When left strewn on sidewalks, they are a tripping hazard for me and an accessibility barrier for people in wheelchairs.
Don’t think that banning e-scooters from sidewalks solves these problems. The City Staff Report shows that e-scooters are ridden on sidewalks in cities that ban them from sidewalks.
We’d need cops on every street corner to effectively police e-scooters. Yet on July 9, Toronto law enforcement told the City’s Infrastructure Committee that they have no capacity to take on enforcement of new e-scooter rules. City Staff told that meeting that there’s no city anywhere that allows e-scooters and that got enforcement right.
Does the City have budget available to hire more law enforcement? One City Council member last week accurately said “the cupboard is bare.” No Councilor disagreed.
For City Council to allow e-scooters will cost taxpayers more money. There’s new law enforcement costs. There’s OHIP costs for treating those injured in our already-overcrowded hospital emergency rooms. The Staff Report rightly warns that the City could also be sued by those injured by e-scooters. Don’t we have more pressing priorities for spending public money?
If e-scooters are allowed, the ones who will be laughing all the way to the bank are the e-scooter rental companies, whose corporate lobbyists are turning up blazing heat on City Councilors to allow e-scooters. That those corporate lobbyists will go to any length was revealed when they tried exploiting the COVID-19 crisis as a pretext to speed up approval and introduction of e-scooters.
The City Staff Report shows that e-scooters don’t significantly reduce road traffic. Typically, those using e-scooters would otherwise walk the short distance to their destination. E-scooters don’t benefit the environment. Instead e-scooters and their toxic batteries eventually become landfill.
The City Staff Report’s findings all show that e-scooters should remain banned. Since the silent menace of e-scooters endanger our safety and create new accessibility barriers for people with disabilities, since they will costs us all more money and won’t really reduce road traffic, as the City Staff Report all documents, why on earth does City Staff propose taking steps towards allowing a pilot with e-scooters in Toronto?
City Council should not vote to conduct a Toronto e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many of us will be injured by this silent menace? We already know they do, from cities that allowed them. Don’t subject us to an unnecessary human experiment where we can get hurt. You need a person’s consent before subjecting them to an experiment that could endanger their safety.
Since we allow bikes, why not e-scooters? A person who has never before ridden an e-scooter (or a bike) can hop on an e-scooter and instantly throttle up to silently race over 20 KPH, endangering us all. In contrast, you can’t instantly pedal a bike that fast, and especially if you’ve never before ridden a bike. In any event, we’ve already got bikes. We don’t need to add the dangers of e-scooters.
Toronto’s City-appointed Disability Accessibility Advisory Committee and several leading disability organizations unanimously called on Toronto not to allow e-scooters. Mayor Tory and City Council should listen to them. Please make Toronto easier and not harder for those of us with disabilities to get around.
With COVID-19, Torontonians are in crisis, facing unprecedented threats to our health and economy. City Council has more important things to do than debating e-scooters, especially now. Montreal tried an e-scooter pilot and called it off. So should Toronto. Vote to protect those of us who need safe, accessible streets and sidewalks, and not the interests of corporate lobbyists.
David Lepofsky is chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and visiting professor, Osgoode Hall Law School.