Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities Website: https://www.aodaalliance.org
May 30, 2023
Unbelievable as it sounds, we again need your help right away to stop the e-scooter corporate lobbyists from trying to get Toronto to allow e-scooters. As an especially cruel irony, this ordeal again confronts us right in the middle of National AccessAbility Week!
Toronto Councillor Paul Ainslie has sloughed off our serious disability concerns and is asking the City of Toronto to re-open this e-scooter issue. He wants Toronto to allow e-scooters. He has acted on this without even giving the disability community the courtesy of talking to us before he did so! In this update, we tell you what we need you to do and explain why.
Please, immediately, email the Infrastructure and Environment Committee at IEC@toronto.ca and ask to make a deputation at the June 5, 2023 meeting of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee on the issue of e-scooters. You can take part in that meeting over the internet. They will give you instructions. All you need to say in your request is this:
“I would like to speak to the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee at its June 5, 2023 meeting on the topic of e-scooters.”
You can speak to that Committee on June 5, 2023 for up to 5 minutes. Use the information in this update if you wish. You don’t need to talk for the entire 5 minutes if you do not want to. It is good enough if you just say that for the safety of vulnerable people with disabilities and seniors, you oppose allowing e-scooters in Toronto. You can also say that you support the AODA Alliance, which strongly opposes e-scooters.
We invite you to sign up to speak even if you don’t live in Toronto. This topic is important if you ever want to visit Toronto, and don’t want e-scooters to endanger you. We also want people with disabilities from other cities to speak to this Committee, if you can share problems you have experienced with e-scooters in your city.
Learn more about our four year fight to protect people with disabilities, seniors and others from the dangers that are posed by the silent menace of e-scooters by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page.
We will be submitting a brief to the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee later this week. Stay tuned!
There will be more AODA Alliance updates this week than usual. There is so much going on at the same time!
1. Here We Go Again! Two Years Ago, the Disability Community Got Toronto City Council to Unanimously Vote Against Allowing Electric Scooters
Over the past four years, the AODA Alliance has worked tirelessly with other leading disability advocates and organizations to oppose e-scooters being allowed in public places. The silent menace of e-scooters have been proven in city after city to create twin dangers for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. Blind people can’t tell when silent e-scooters rocket at them at over 20 kph, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, and unhelmetted fun-seeking riders. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are serious tripping hazards for blind people and accessibility nightmares for wheelchair users.
As a major victory for people with disabilities after a long and hard battle, on May 5, 2021, Toronto City Council unanimously voted not to allow e-scooters in public and not to conduct a pilot project. Terrified of the danger to them that e-scooters pose, people with disabilities worked hard to oppose the efforts of profit-seeking e-scooter corporate lobbyists.
City staff, Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, and the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee made strong recommendations to City Council in 2021 against allowing e-scooters in Toronto, and against conducting a pilot project. In the same direction, an impressive spectrum of disability advocates told the Infrastructure and Environment Committee on April 28, 2021 that Toronto City Council must not unleash dangerous electric scooters in Toronto (now banned, unless Council legalizes them).
A very detailed 2021 City Staff Report, which the Toronto City Council unanimously supported, amply showed that e-scooters endanger public safety in places allowing them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities.
Toronto has been getting less accessible to people with disabilities. Allowing e-scooters would make that worse.
In 2021, the Infrastructure and Environment Committee was also told over and over that it accomplishes nothing to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. The 2021 City Staff Report documented that the silent menace of e-scooters continue to be ridden on sidewalks in cities that just ban them from sidewalks. We would need cops on every block. Toronto law enforcement told City Councillors on July 9, 2020 that they have no resources to enforce such new e-scooter rules.
E-scooters would impose significant costs on taxpayers for new law enforcement, OHIP for treating those injured by e-scooters, lawsuits by the injured, etc. Toronto has more pressing budget priorities.
In 2020, 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 had inundated City Hall with for months.
2. Why is This Issue Coming Up Again Now?
On May 9, 2023, Toronto City Council member Paul Ainslie wrote the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee, asking it to direct City staff to prepare a new report on e-scooters, with a view to lifting Toronto’s ban on e-scooters and allowing e-scooters. We set that letter out below. It looks just like a letter that we would expect the e-scooter corporate lobbyists to write.
This issue is now being scheduled for discussion at the June 5, 2023 meeting of the Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee. The first we learned of this was yesterday, a mere one week before that meeting, and right in the middle of National AccessAbility Week! Councillor Ainslie is well aware of the serious concerns of the disability community in this area. Yet he never alerted us to his intention to raise this issue or sought our input before he decided to do so.
Councillor Ainslie himself voted to ban e-scooters at the May 5, 2021 Toronto City Council meeting. He gives no reason for reversing his vote. He cites no example of any city that has succeeded in preventing all the dangers that e-scooters present for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. He does not say why the City of Toronto should again divert its scarce resources to this issue. We believe that vulnerable people with disabilities and seniors deserve better.
3. Text of the May 9, 2023 Letter to the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee from Toronto City Council Member Paul Ainslie
Councillor Paul W. Ainslie
City of Toronto Councillor
Ward 24 Scarborough-Guildwood
Chair, Scarborough Community Council
Chair, Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo
Chair, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
Chair, Federation of Ontario Public Libraries
Night Economy Champion, City of Toronto
Facebook: Councillor Paul Ainslie Scarborough-Guildwood
Facebook: Ward 24 Scarborough-Guildwood
Date: May 9,2023
To: Infrastructure and Environment Committee Members
Re: E-scooter Pilot Program
1. City Council request the General Manager, Transportation Services and the Executive Director of Environment and Climate to report back at the October 25,2023, Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting on a framework for an E-Scooter Pilot Project, for consideration of inclusion in building a comprehensive “Active Transportation Network” for the City of Toronto. 2. The report is to include:
c. Utilization of City resources, including police and municipal licensing;
d. Consulting with other North American cities on how they deal with accessibility issues; e. Designated parking areas for e-scooters;
f. Banning e-scooters from public sidewalks;
g. Banning e-scooters from public parks and pathways; and
h. Capping the number of e-scooters which private companies can deploy during the pilot project.
In January 2020, the province began a five-year Electric kick-style scooters e-scooters, pilot project allowing municipalities to regulate the use of e-scooters. Electric kick-style scooters (e-scooters) I ontario.ca. The City of Toronto has an opportunity to participate by prioritizing active transportation programs, to include e -scooters as part of the solution for moving individuals around our city.
Toronto chose not to partake in the pilot project, which I have heard from many members of the public, is placing Toronto at a disadvantage. They have told me this is a missed opportunity to not pilot e-scooters as an addition to our active transportation programs, adding to our commitment to the cycling network plan.
The Region of Durham, on Apri1 27, 2022, passed By-law 23-2022 (External link) “permitting the use of e-scooters on Regional roads. As a result, e-scooters are now permitted on regional roads in Pickering but not on City roads. Staff have drafted the Electric Kick Scooter Bylaw to ensure there is a consistent approach to e-Scooter use across all of Pickering.”
On April 6, 2023, the City of Brampton issued a press release City of Brampton I News I Media Release, launching Brampton’s first ever E-scooter program, introducing as stated in the release; “connecting residents with another sustainable active transportation option”
I ask for your support to review a framework to initiate a pilot project to allow the City of Toronto to participate in the pilot for the regulation of e-scooters.
Reg. 389/19: PILOT PROJECT – ELECTRIC KICK-SCOOTERS (ontario.ca) City of Brampton I News I Media Release
Electric Scooters I Let’s Talk Pickering (letstalkpickering.ca) E-scooter firm Bird Global launches in GTA but Toronto still a ‘no’ I The Star
Paul W. Ainslie
City of Toronto, Councillor
Ward 24 Scarborough-Guildwood
Scarborough Civic Centre
150 Borough Drive Scarborough, ON M1 P 4N7
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West, Suite C52
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2