Disability Advocates to Present Tuesday at Virtual Meeting of London City Council’s Civic Works Committee to Oppose Allowing Electric Scooters in Public Places Under Any Circumstances

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 20, 2022, Toronto: On Tuesday, June 21, 2022, starting some time after noon, the AODA Alliance will ask to make a deputation to London City Council’s Civic Works Committee, urging the city not to lift the ban on electric scooters, because they endanger vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. The Committee meeting will be live-streamed on a link that will be posted on the day of the meeting, at https://london.ca/government/council-civic-administration/council-committee-meetings

Disability advocates will tell the Committee that Mayor Holder and City Council must not legalize the use of e-scooters in public, whether privately-owned or offered through an e-scooter share program. See AODA Alliance’s June 20, 2022 letter to London City Council members, set out Below.

Experience in city after city shows that e-scooters, a silent menace, endanger public safety in places that allow them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They 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 tripping hazards for blind people and accessibility nightmares for wheelchair users.

London, like other Ontario cities, has been getting less accessible to people with disabilities. Permitting e-scooters, now banned from public places, would make that even worse. City Council has a legal duty not to create new disability barriers.

It accomplishes nothing to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. The silent menace of e-scooters continues unreduced, because they are frequently ridden on sidewalks in cities that only ban them from sidewalks. London would need cops on every block.

E-scooters would cost taxpayers substantially, such as for new law enforcement, OHIP for treating those injured by e-scooters, and lawsuits by the injured.

It is very commendable that a London city staff report, to be considered at the June 21 London Civic Works Committee, says London should not permit an e-scooter share program, where the public could rent e-scooters for short rides. London city staff agree that this presents accessibility and safety dangers for people with disabilities.

However, the AODA Alliance strongly opposes the London city staff recommendation that City Council should permit people to ride privately-owned e-scooters (as opposed to renting e-scooters). The AODA Alliances detailed June 20, 2022 brief shows that privately-owned e-scooters, and not just rented e-scooters, endanger vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. It would be wrong to reward law-breakers who now illegally ride e-scooters in public.

City Council should not conduct an e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many innocent people will be injured by privately-owned e-scooters? We already know that they will from cities that allow them. London’s residents and visitors should not be forced to serve as guinea pigs in such a human experiment, especially without the consent of those at risk of being injured.

Corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies will be all over London City Council members, to try to get them to allow an e-scooter share program with rental e-scooters. “The corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank as injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky.

The AODA Alliance exposed the stunning well-funded, behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy of back-room pressure that corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies inundated Toronto City Hall with for months. They do this in city after city. We call on Mayor Holder and City Council to stand up for people with disabilities and to stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

Contact: AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, aodafeedback@gmail.com Twitter: @aodaalliance

For more background, check out:
The AODA Alliance’s June 20, 2022 brief to London City Council’s Civic Works Committee. The June 15, 2022 London staff report addressing e-scooters. The AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

Text of the AODA Alliance’s June 20, 2022 Letter to London City Council

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities Web: www.aodaalliance.org
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
Twitter: @aodaalliance
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

June 20, 2022

Via Email
Mayor Ed Holder
mayor@london.ca
Twitter: @ldnontmayor

Ward 1 Councillor Michael van Holst
mvanholst@london.ca
Twitter: @mikevanholst

Ward 2 Councillor Shawn Lewis
slewis@london.ca
Twitter: @shawnwlewis

Ward 3 Councillor Mohamed Salih
msalih@london.ca
Twitter: @MohamedMOSalih

Ward 4 Councillor Jesse Helmer
jhelmer@london.ca
Twitter: @jesse_helmer

Ward 5 Councillor Maureen Cassidy
mcassidy@london.ca
Twitter: @MaureenPCassidy

Ward 6 Councillor Phil Squire
psquire@london.ca

Ward 7 Councillor Josh Morgan
joshmorgan@london.ca
Twitter: @JoshMorganLDN

Ward 8 Councillor Steve Lehman
slehman@london.ca

Ward 9 Councillor Anna Hopkins
ahopkins@london.ca
Twitter: @AnnaHopkins11

Ward 10 Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen
pvanmeerbergen@london.ca
Twitter: @NotVanMerbergen

Ward 11 Councillor Stephen Turner
sturner@london.ca
Twitter: @st3v3turn3r

Ward 12 Councillor Elizabeth Peloza
epeloza@london.ca
Twitter: @ElizabethPeloza

Ward 13 Councillor Arielle Kayabaga
akayabaga@london.ca
Twitter: @KayabagaArielle

Ward 14 Councillor Steven Hillier
shillier@london.ca

Dear Mayor and Members of City Council

Re: Protecting London from the Dangers of Electric Scooters

We seek your leadership to protect all people in London, especially people with disabilities and seniors, whose safety is endangered if London adopts a city staff proposal to legalize the use of privately-owned e-scooters. We applaud that report for rejecting the idea of London holding a pilot project with shared rental e-scooters. However, we strongly oppose staff’s proposal that London amend its bylaws to permit (and thereby condone) the public use of privately-owned e-scooters (whose use in public is now prohibited).

With this letter, we are forwarding to you a detailed brief that we have sent to London City Council’s Civic Works Committee. We have requested a slot to make a deputation to the Civic Works Committee when this agenda item comes up at its June 21, 2022 meeting.

We ask you to please stand up to e-scooter corporate lobbyists who will urge you to permit shared e-scooter rentals, from which they profit. Stand up for the many people who don’t want to be injured by e-scooters, whether rented or privately-owned. We ask that the Civic Works Committee do the following at its June 21, 2022 meeting:

1. Please accept the London staff report’s recommendation that rental e-scooters not be permitted. Please reject that report’s recommendation that London’s bylaws be amended to permit a person to ride in public a privately-owned e-scooter. If London wants to proceed with a new micromobility initiative, establish a far safer bike share program (which staff supports).

2. If not, then at the very least, before taking any further steps on allowing privately-owned e-scooters to be ridden in public, please first send this issue back to city staff, to thoroughly study the dangers that e-scooters create for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others (including ones that are privately owned). That is what the City of Toronto wisely did. It led Toronto City Council to ultimately, and wisely, say a unanimous no to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists and to leave all e-scooters banned, whether rented through a shared e-scooter program, or privately owned.

3. If not, then our brief lists a series of specific mandatory conditions that City Council should impose on any further steps towards the city staff’s proposal regarding allowing privately-owned e-scooters to be ridden in public.

In recommending this, we want to be sure that nothing is done that prevents people with disabilities from using the mobility devices they need to assist them with independent mobility.

The Issue
An e-scooter is a silent motor vehicle. If allowed, a joy-rider with no license or training could rocket around on an e-scooter at 20 kph or faster. E-scooter riders and innocent pedestrians would get seriously injured or killed. See a CBC report on e-scooter injuries suffered in Calgary. See also a disturbing collection of 25 news reports on e-scooter injuries in communities that allow them.

The silent menace of e-scooters especially endangers vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities, such as people who are blind or who have low vision or balance issues, or whose disability makes them slower to scramble out of the way. A blind pedestrian can’t know when a silent e-scooter races toward them at over 20 kph, driven by a fun-seeking unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmetted joy-rider.

In cities where e-scooters are allowed, e-scooters, and especially rental e-scooters, left strewn around public places, create serious new mobility barriers to accessibility for people using a wheelchair, walker, or other mobility device. For people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, this is a serious unexpected tripping hazard.

Over the past two years, Toronto City staff commendably produced two detailed reports on e-scooters, one in June 2020 and one in April 2021. Taken together, they showed that to allow e-scooters in Toronto in any form, rented or privately-owned, will endanger public safety, send e-scooter riders and innocent pedestrians to hospital emergency rooms, require significant new law enforcement efforts, and impose new financial burdens on the taxpayer to cover added costs that e-scooters trigger. Those Toronto City staff reports also showed that e-scooters do not bring the great benefits for reduced car traffic and pollution that corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies claim. We are aware of no City staff report in any other Ontario municipality that has replicated or improved upon the research on this issue conducted by Toronto City staff.

E-scooters would especially endanger public safety and accessibility for people with disabilities and others on sidewalks. The two Toronto City staff reports, referred to above, show that in cities where e-scooters are allowed but banned on sidewalks, they are nevertheless ridden on sidewalks. The deeply troubling experience in Ottawa amply supports this concern.

Last year, Toronto City Council commendably voted unanimously not to allow e-scooters. It did so after it directed City staff to study the impact of e-scooters on people with disabilities. The Accessibility Advisory Committees of Toronto, Hamilton, London, and Ottawa have all advised their respective city councils against allowing e-scooters. That includes both rented and privately-owned e-scooters.

Showing how strong the disability opposition to any e-scooters is, on January 22, 2020, over two years ago, an open letter to the Ontario Government and all municipalities from eleven major disability organizations called for e-scooters not to be allowed.

Feeding Frenzy by E-scooter Rental Companies’ Corporate Lobbyists
There can be no doubt that the well-funded e-scooter corporate lobbyists have been trying to get the ear of the City of London. We have elsewhere seen those corporate lobbyists in action. A 2020 AODA Alliance report on e-scooter corporate lobbyists provides insight. It documented through a public lobbyists’ registry that Toronto City Hall was inundated by a well-funded feeding frenzy by corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies.

Those corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank as seriously injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital emergency rooms. They have falsely claimed that the City can approve e-scooters at no cost to the City or the public.

London should not allow e-scooters, whether rented or privately-owned. If anyone is riding privately-owned e-scooters in London, this is illegal. Illegal and dangerous conduct should not be rewarded. Instead, the law should be effectively enforced.

Please make London safer and more accessible for people with disabilities. Do not leave a legacy of a London where it becomes harder and more dangerous for us to get around. London, like all other Ontario cities, already has too many disability barriers. Do not create new ones by legalizing and thereby condoning public riding of privately-owned e-scooters.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance