By: John Rae
July 15, 2020
Editor’s Note: This article is based on John Rae’s Presentation to the City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee, July 9, 2020
Chair Pasternak and members of the committee, I appear in opposition to any introduction of e-scooters in Toronto.
I am blind. I live in downtown Toronto. I’m age 71. Toronto has always been my home city, and I love our city.
These days all Ontarians live under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). That Act is designed to remove existing barriers and prevent the introduction of new ones, but what do I find? As a blind person I hate to say this, but I find Toronto, the city I love, our wonderful city, is becoming less accessible to me and not more accessible. Yes you heard me right members of the committee, I find this city is becoming less accessible and not more. Let me give you some examples.
What do I find, sidewalk clutter everywhere! There are Sandwich boards, bicycle racks, bicycles strewn on the sidewalk, construction sites almost everywhere, and one of the councilors earlier referred to cement planters. It’s been a while since I’ve been on St. George Street, but I’m afraid to say that my shins still remember the last time I was there. They are a menace to people like me, but it’s worse than that.
We now have to also deal with the silent killer, that’s the quiet car, and now we may have to deal with yet another silent menace on our roads – the silent E-Scooter. This iss an issue that should be of concern to all pedestrians, but is particularly so for people like me.
Our city has become difficult enough for me to navigate safely, and any introduction of e-scooters will only make it more and more difficult. This reality flies in the face of the AODA.
The notion that e-scooters can be safe to pedestrians like me is ridiculous! While they are typically restricted to wherever a bicycle is allowed to go, Ontario municipalities can also allow them on sidewalks. Regardless what approach a municipality takes, inevitably they will migrate onto sidewalks, and pedestrians will be hit and seriously injured. Our hospital emergency rooms are already overburdened due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, and any suggestions that this is a good time flies in the face of this reality. This is the worst time to be considering introducing e-scooters.
In answer to the question about bicycles, yes they can be a problem, too, but they are at least on the road, so pedestrians have some measure of safety from them. No, it’s not perfect, not perfect, but at least it’s a little better.
I think there are also serious liability issues to the City. If I’m knocked down and hurt by one of these menacing vehicles, you can bet your life that if I can identify who did it, I’ll be suing them. And you can also bet your life that I will join the City in such a lawsuit.
Introducing e-scooters to Toronto will require a new bylaw and officers to enforce it. I think the City has more important things to spend its limited enforcement dollars on. As one Councillor already mentioned this morning, “the cupboard is bare.” I believe him. I believe all of you who take that position. Well, that’s another reason to abandon this idea now and forever. I urge you to dismiss this idea and oppose altogether the introduction of the menace of e-scooters on Toronto streets.
I don’t understand why the committee is in such a hurry to deal with this issue, especially in these times. I would think that City Council an all committees and all of you have more important, more pressing civic issues, public policy issues on your plate than this one. I submit this is the wrong time, the worst time to be considering it.
This is an issue that must be put to rest. The only real answer to this issue is to ban the introduction of e-scooters on Toronto sidewalks now and forever.