Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities https://www.aodaalliance.org firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @aodaalliance
July 14, 2023
Today, the AODA Alliance wrote Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow and all members of Toronto City Council. Our letter, set out below, urges them not to reopen Toronto’s ban on riding electric scooters in public, if this issue comes up at the July 19-21, 2023, Toronto City Council meeting.
Please email, phone or tweet Mayor Chow and members of Toronto City Council. You can find all their contact information in the July 12, 2023, AODA Alliance Update. Tell them to just say no to e-scooters ridden in public places in Toronto.
The AODA Alliance’s July 14, 2023, letter sets out very strong reasons to support us. We know we have quite a battle ahead. We are up against the well-financed corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies.
Learn more by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page.
July 14, 2023 AODA Alliance Letter to Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow and Toronto City Council Members
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: email@example.com Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/
July 14, 2023
To: Mayor Olivia Chow and Members of Toronto City Council
100 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Dear Mayor and Members of Toronto City Council,
Re: Protecting Vulnerable People with Disabilities and Seniors in Toronto from the Dangers Posed by Electric Scooters
Despite vehement objections from the disability community, the July 19-21, 2023, Toronto City Council agenda is expected to include an item on whether to reopen the ban on e-scooters. Toronto City Council unanimously voted just two years ago to maintain the ban on riding e-scooters in public places. If the e-scooters issue is raised at the upcoming City Council meeting, we ask you to just say no to reopening the ban on e-scooters. Please stand up for vulnerable people with disabilities and seniors in Toronto. Stand up to the well-financed corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies.
We want to be 100% clear. We categorically do NOT support any motion that calls for an e-scooter pilot in Toronto of any sort.
Experience in city after city shows that e-scooters, a silent menace, endanger public safety. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. E-scooters especially endanger vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people can’t know when silent e-scooters rocket at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmetted, fun-seeking joyriders. Often left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are dangerous tripping hazards for blind people and accessibility nightmares for wheelchair users.
It does not protect the public to ban e-scooters only from sidewalks. E-scooters are frequently ridden on sidewalks in cities where they are banned from sidewalks. We’d need cops on every block.
E-scooters would cost taxpayers substantially, such as for new law enforcement, OHIP for treating victims injured by e-scooters, and lawsuits by the injured. With its unsolved deficit, Toronto has more pressing budget priorities. E-scooter corporate lobbyists make bogus claims that e-scooters will cost the public nothing.
The e-scooter corporate lobbyists want you to think that they have some amazing new technology that will prevent e-scooters from ever being ridden or parked on sidewalks. Don’t believe it. Over the past two years, they have made similar bloated claims about the new technology they had that would prevent these proven e-scooter dangers. Even if that technology had existed, it would NOT protect anyone from the same dangers posed by privately owned and illegally ridden e-scooters that have no such technology. The e-scooter corporate lobbyists can only control the technology in rental e-scooters.
City Council should not conduct an e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many innocent people will be injured or killed? We already know they will from cities that allow them. Toronto residents and visitors should not be endangered as unwilling guinea pigs in such a human experiment, especially without the consent of people at risk of being injured or worse.
It would be wrong and very unfair to vulnerable people with disabilities and seniors for this issue to be discussed at the July 19-21, 2023, Toronto City Council meeting, since our community has had absolutely no chance to discuss this issue with Toronto’s new Mayor and her office and to alert her to our strong opposition. She was just sworn in earlier this week. This will be her first City Council meeting as mayor. In contrast, we had a good chance to fully brief Mayor John Tory on our concerns. After that, he voted along with the rest of Toronto City Council to retain the ban on e-scooters at its May 5, 2021 meeting.
Why would this issue come up again at City Council, so soon after City staff had thoroughly studied it and City Council had thoroughly debated it? It is because at its June 28, 2023, meeting, the Toronto City Council’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee passed a rather bizarre motion, in which they referred this issue to Toronto City Council without a recommendation. They did not pass the recommendation presented by City Council member Diane Saxe which would reopen the e-scooters issue.
City staff have not recommended to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee that the ban on e-scooters be reopened or that Toronto conduct an e-scooter pilot. They did not suggest from their ongoing monitoring of this issue that new technology will prevent the proven dangers that e-scooters present. Two years ago, City staff submitted an excellent, detailed, thoroughly researched report to City Council that recommended against Toronto conducting an e-scooter pilot. At the June 28, 2023, Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, Toronto City staff did not rescind that earlier position. It alerted the Infrastructure and Environment Committee that the Toronto Medical Officer of Health has not altered their opposition to Toronto conducting an e-scooter pilot.
At the June 28, 2023, Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, all deputants from the disability and seniors’ communities once again told Toronto not to lift the ban on e-scooters. They have consistently done so at every meeting of any Committee of Toronto City Council since this e-scooters issue first arose.
At the June 28, 2023, meeting of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee, the only speakers opposing us were corporate lobbyists from the e-scooter rental companies. They want to make money by flooding Toronto with dangerous rental e-scooters. They have created a dangerous urban blight in other cities where they have been allowed.
For Toronto City Council to reopen this now, over strong objections from the disability community, is even more unfair, since the driving reason why City Council unanimously voted against allowing e-scooters two years ago was the strong objection from the disability/seniors’ community. Yet no City Council member has taken this issue to Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee this year to solicit their input. That very Committee twice passed strong motions, in 2020 and 2021, insisting that e-scooters should remained banned, and that Tonto law enforcement should enforce the law.
At the June 28, 2023, Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, Councillor Dianne Saxe referred to and relied on the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee’s not objecting to rental e-scooters this year. Yet this is no reason to reopen the e-scooters issue in Toronto. The starting point should be Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee’s strong opposition to e-scooters, and not Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee.
It is our understanding that the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee did not entertain any public deputations from people with disabilities when it considered this issue earlier this year. In sharp contrast, at prior meetings of the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee (in which we took part as a deputant), that Accessibility Advisory Committee did receive public deputations. As in Toronto, those Ottawa deputations from people with disabilities and seniors were resoundingly opposed to e-scooters.
At the June 28, 2023, meeting of the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee, a written submission was received from a member of the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee, Wayne Antle, an individual who is blind and thereby has good reason to fear the silent menace of e-scooters. He strongly objects to e-scooters. He provided photographs of misparked e-scooters in Ottawa. These prove that the technology does not ensure that e-scooters are not left on the sidewalk. We have also received information that in Ottawa, e-scooters continue to be ridden on sidewalks, despite their being banned, and despite technology that supposedly prevents this.
At that Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, some City Council members incorrectly framed the issue as either leaving e-scooters unregulated, with the chaos now on Toronto streets, or regulating them. This is a false dilemma. There is a third and much better option, namely effectively enforcing the ban on riding e-scooters in public places.
At its June 28, 2023, meeting, one member of Toronto City Council said law enforcement in Toronto can’t or won’t enforce the ban on e-scooters in Toronto. We don’t believe that vulnerable members of the public can or should accept this. Our City Government and police are now powerless to protect us from a proven danger. It is wrong to approach this issue as if there is no option for better enforcing the law!
It is wrong for City Council members to think that it would improve things for them to allow a pilot program with rental e-scooters and regulate them. This will make things worse. It will flood our streets with even more e-scooters. It will do nothing to effectively regulate the e-scooters that are privately sold and privately ridden on our sidewalks, paths and streets, endangering us all.
Toronto now has a major deficit. Toronto has more important priorities than spending public money and more staff time on the e-scooters issue, after exhaustively studying and debating it just two years ago.
Instead of reopening the ban on riding e-scooters in public places, Toronto should do a much better job of enforcing that ban.
You can learn more by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page.
If e-scooters come up at the July 19-21, 2023 City Council meeting, please vote to just say no to e-scooters. Don’t make Toronto a more dangerous and inaccessible place for people with disabilities and seniors to live or visit. There are other, better and safer ways to promote active transportation.
David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Twitter: @davidlepofsky