Municipal Election Action Kit — Ask Candidates for City Council or Mayor Anywhere in Ontario to Pledge Not to Allow Electric Scooters in Your Community!

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

 

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/

 

 

Municipal Election Action Kit — Ask Candidates for City Council or Mayor Anywhere in Ontario to Pledge Not to Allow Electric Scooters in Your Community!

 

August 18, 2022

 

October 24, 2022 is the date of municipal elections in Ontario. Ontarians will vote for their next mayors and members of city council. Ontarians with disabilities need your help in this election.

 

More and more, people with disabilities are endangered by electric scooters racing silently at high speeds on sidewalks, roads and park paths around Ontario. These create twin dangers for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.

 

A silent menace, e-scooters, appearing out of nowhere, are ridden on sidewalks in Ottawa and other cities that ban them from sidewalks. Uninsured, unlicensed, untrained, unhelmeted joy-riders, racing at 20 KPH, endanger the safety of innocent pedestrians, especially people who can’t see them coming or quickly dodge them. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters have been tripping hazards for blind people, and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

 

There are news reports from around the world documenting very serious injuries that e-scooters have caused. Several major disability organizations, as well as several municipal accessibility advisory committees have called on city after city to not allow e-scooters, and to enforce any ban on them that is in place.

 

Yet despite this, some Ontario cities like Ottawa allow e-scooters. Others, like Toronto, have not allowed them, but are not effectively enforcing the ban on riding them in public.

 

Ottawa has allowed e-scooters for two years, over the strong objections from disability community. According to the City of Ottawa’s own survey, 83% of respondents encountered mis-parked e-scooters. 79% encountered e-scooters illegally ridden on sidewalks.

 

Some people own their own e-scooters and ride them in public. There is nothing in place to stop stores from selling e-scooters to the public, even when it is illegal to ride them in public in most parts of Ontario. In some cities, people can also rent e-scooters.

 

Corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies have kept up a feeding frenzy of lobbying city councils. They laugh all the way to the bank, while victims of e-scooter injuries sob all the way to their hospital’s over-crowded emergency ward.

 

It’s not good enough to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. In every city that has banned e-scooters from sidewalks but allowed them on the roads, people still keep riding e-scooters on sidewalks. No city can afford to have a cop on every sidewalk to police those weak rules.

 

Let the candidates know that this issue of safety and accessibility matters to you! Ask any and every candidate for mayor or City Council member in your community to make the “No E-scooters Pledge.” Don’t allow e-scooters anywhere in public, roads, sidewalks or anywhere else. Don’t allow them, whether they are rented or privately owned. Don’t allow this new dangerous disability barrier to be created. It will make our society even more inaccessible for Ontarians with disabilities.

 

We are talking about the motorized kick-style scooters that a person stands on to ride. We of course seek no restrictions on mobility assistance devices for people with disabilities, such as the very different powered scooters on which a person sits when riding them.

 

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Creating new barriers flies in the face of that requirement.

 

Please spread the word about this issue. Urge friends and family members to call on any candidates for mayor or city council in the October 24, 2022 Ontario municipal elections to make the “No E-Scooters Pledge!”

 

Let us know what commitments you get from candidates. Email us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

 

Want to learn more about this issue? Visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page!

AODA Alliance Chair Asks Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner to Reconsider Her Refusal to Investigate His Complaint that Ottawa’s Transportation Committee Failed to Provide Proper Disability Accommodation When Considering Whether to Support a 3rd Pilot Project With E-Scooters that Endanger People with Disabilities

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

AODA Alliance Chair Asks Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner to Reconsider Her Refusal to Investigate His Complaint that Ottawa’s Transportation Committee Failed to Provide Proper Disability Accommodation When Considering Whether to Support a 3rd Pilot Project With E-Scooters that Endanger People with Disabilities

 

July 7, 2022

 

SUMMARY

 

On March 20, 2022, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky filed a complaint with Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner against the members of Ottawa City Council’s Transportation Committee. On June 23, 2022, Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner rejected this complaint without even investigating it. Her reasons are set out below.

 

Undeterred, the AODA Alliance Chair has written to the Ottawa Integrity Commissioner, asking her to reconsider her decision and to investigate his complaint before reaching any conclusions on it. That letter is also set out below.

 

What is this all about? Members of Ottawa’s Transportation Committee contravened their duty to accommodate blind disability rights advocate David Lepofsky at its March 2, 2022 meeting, according to the complaint Lepofsky filed with Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner. Lepofsky made a deputation to the Transportation Committee, urging Ottawa not to use vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, and others as unwilling guinea pigs in a third pilot project with e-scooters in public places that endanger their safety and accessibility. In his affidavit submitted to the Integrity Commissioner, Lepofsky summarized:

 

“13. When it came time for me to speak, I faced disability discrimination in two ways.

  1. a) Unlike sighted members of the Committee and deputants, I and other blind deputants only received electronic copies of the City’s staff report and supporting documents in an accessible format late in the day before this Transportation Committee meeting. That was far too late to be able to read them, much less to prepare a full response to them. For this reason, I asked the Committee to defer the e-scooter agenda item to a future meeting, so that we could read the documents to which we had to respond. The Chair and the Committee members did not grant this request or even discuss or deliberate upon it. As such, I—unlike the e- scooter corporate lobbyists—was at a hopeless and unfair disadvantage in speaking to the issues before the Transportation Committee.
  2. b) The Committee used the “Zoom webinars” platform for its meeting. I was able to log on to hear the proceedings but was unable to perceive a link or button to click to enable me to speak to the Committee. I only learned of this right before I was to make my deputation. The Committee Clerk instead had me make my deputation over my phone, speaking to his phone. He held his phone up to his computer microphone in an effort to let the Committee members hear what I was saying to them. This is a far less effective way to present a deputation. Unknown to me until my deputation finished, my audio was cutting in and out. Committee members could not hear parts of my deputation. When I finished, a member of the Committee stated that he had not been able to hear much of my deputation. I asked the Committee and its Chair to let me make my deputation through an accessible medium so that they could hear it all. I identified this as an issue of disability accessibility. This request was not granted or even brought to a vote of the Committee.
  3. As a result, I and the AODA Alliance which I serve were denied a fair chance to be effectively heard on an important issue of public policy that relates to health, safety and accessibility of people with disabilities and others. Contrary to requests of deputants with disabilities, the Committee voted that afternoon in favour of a third e-scooter pilot, with variations that do not reduce our disability concerns.”

 

Lepofsky’s complaint asked the Integrity Commissioner to find that the Chair and members of the Ottawa Transportation Committee at the meeting during his deputation contravened section 7 of Ottawa’s Code of Conduct. It forbids discrimination, which includes this disability discrimination. It would have been easy for the Transportation Committee to accommodate the AODA Alliance Chair’s disability-related needs, had it taken a moment to take this seriously, rather than barrelling ahead to vote against people with disabilities and in favour of e-scooters.

 

AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s July 7, 2022, letter points out serious errors in the Integrity Commissioner’s reasons, and asks her to reconsider her refusal to investigate his case.

 

Earlier this year, Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee recommended that Ottawa not again allow e-scooters because they endanger people with disabilities. E-scooters, improperly racing at 20 KPH on sidewalks by uninsured, unlicensed, and untrained joy-riders, are a silent menace to people with disabilities and others. E-scooters left strewn on sidewalks are a dangerous tripping hazard for blind people and an accessibility barrier for people using a wheelchair. An Ottawa City Staff Report shows that e-scooters posed these dangers in 2020-21 but proposes inadequate measures that won’t eliminate them. Despite all of this, Ottawa is now again exposing its residents and visitors to the dangers to safety and accessibility that e-scooters have been proven to create.

 

For more background on the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities, seniors and others, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

MORE DETAILS

 

Text of the July 7, 2022 Letter from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to the Ottawa Integrity Commissioner

 

To: Ottawa Integrity Commissioner

Via email: integrity@ottawa.ca 

 

From: David Lepofsky

 

Date: July 7, 2022

 

Re: Integrity Complaint against the Ottawa Transportation Committee and Its Chair

 

On March 20, 2022, I submitted to you a complaint against members of the Ottawa Transportation Committee. On June 23, 2022, you wrote me to advise that you have decided not to investigate this complaint, and to give me your reasons.

 

I hereby request that you reconsider your June 23, 2022 dismissal of my March 20, 2022 complaint against the Ottawa City Council members who serve on Ottawa’s Transportation Committee. This letter explains why. The relief I request is that you:

 

  1. a) Re-consider your dismissal of my complaint.
  2. b) Investigate my complaint on the merits, and
  3. c) Find that the complaint has merit.

 

A core reason for your rejecting my complaint was your statement that you only have limited “authority” i.e., jurisdiction to consider complaints regarding the conduct and management of City Council or of its committees. Your June 23, 2022 letter includes the following:

 

  1. “…I believe my authority to intervene in matters related to the management of Council and Committee meetings is limited. I have determined there are insufficient grounds to make an exception in this case.”

 

  1. “In the years since municipal codes of conduct were first established, a growing body of rulings from some of my colleagues, both past and present, have taken the position that integrity commissioners should not interfere with the conduct and management of any particular meeting of Council or its Committees.

 

This position is strongly rooted in recognition of City Council’s statutory responsibility to establish the rules of procedure that will govern its meetings and the Chair’s duty to enforce decorum and orderly conduct during meetings. The presiding officer should have a certain degree of autonomy to ensure that a meeting is conducted in keeping with the Council’s rules of procedure.

 

I accept this position and am of the opinion that generally, allegations arising out of a Council or Committee meeting are not within my authority to investigate. My recent 2022 Mid-year Report to Council (p. 5 – 6) sets out this position.

This does not mean that all concerns related to the conduct of Members during meetings are beyond my authority as Integrity Commissioner, only that my authority to intervene in matters related to the management of Council and Committee meetings is limited.”

 

I respectfully submit that these reasons are inherently erroneous. You either have jurisdiction to review a City Council member’s conduct during a meeting of City Council or one of its committees, or you do not. In this regard, jurisdiction is an all or nothing phenomenon. It is like pregnancy. A person is either pregnant, or they are not.

 

Were your reasons correct, a City Council member could with impunity unleash a loud, ugly barrage of racist invective at a member of the public during a deputation before a City Council committee meeting, utterly free from any scrutiny by Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner. That would be wrong.

 

Your letter relies on the view of other unnamed Integrity Commissioners. If, as I here submit, you do have jurisdiction to investigate my complaint, then that jurisdiction is not stripped from you by unnamed decisions of other unnamed Integrity Commissioners, in unspecified fact situations.

 

My complaint relies on the core obligations of the Ottawa City Council and of its committees and their members, owed to people with disabilities like me, under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This includes the duty to accommodate deputants with disabilities like me, when seeking to make a deputation to a committee of City Council on a topic on which the elected members are about to vote.

 

Your June 23, 2022 decision is fatally flawed by concluding that my allegations do not fit within your jurisdiction, and hence should not even be investigated. I respectfully submit that the subject matter of my complaint, disability discrimination by members of a committee of City Council, clearly and squarely falls within your jurisdiction.

 

Exacerbating this error, your June 23, 2022 letter proceeds on the basis that you would need to make some sort of “exception” in order to investigate my complaint. If, as I submit, failures to accommodate a deputant’s disability fall clearly within your authority, then it is patently wrong for your decision to be based on any starting point that to investigate it would require you to make an exception. The duty to accommodate people with disabilities like me is the rule, not an exception.

 

It might be argued that you should show some deference to City Council members when reviewing their conduct at a meeting of City Council or one of its committees. Even if it were assumed that that was so, that does not go to the question whether you have jurisdiction to inquire into the subject matter of my complaint. That only bears on the level of substantive scrutiny that you should employ once you have accepted that you have jurisdiction to review a City Council member’s conduct during a meeting of City Council or of one of its committees. Moreover, when it comes to complying with the duty to accommodate people with disabilities like me in circumstances like this, there is no room for and no place for any such deference.

 

It was further legally erroneous for you to base your conclusion about your jurisdiction to any degree on a “…recognition of City Council’s statutory responsibility to establish the rules of procedure that will govern its meetings and the Chair’s duty to enforce decorum and orderly conduct during meetings. The presiding officer should have a certain degree of autonomy to ensure that a meeting is conducted in keeping with the Council’s rules of procedure.”

 

The statutory authority to which you refer, and the flexibility a committee chair has to implement City Council’s procedural rules, does not override, displace or diminish the duty not to discriminate against deputants with disabilities like me, nor does it reduce or eliminate their duty to accommodate me, as part of the ban on discrimination (which your office exists to investigate, among other topics). No member of City Council can discriminate against any people with disabilities when exercising that statutory authority, or otherwise.

 

The errors I have already listed are ample to warrant you reconsidering your decision, and agreeing to investigate my complaint. However, your June 23, 2022 decision includes further fatal errors that also warrant your reconsidering it.

 

In the balance of your decision, you have reviewed the substance of my complaint, and have rejected it on the merits. You in substance have decided not to investigate it because you see no merit in it, on its face. Your June 23, 2022 letter states:

 

“After careful review of the YouTube video of the Transportation Committee proceedings of March 2, 2022, including your delegation and the Chair’s response, I do not believe there are sufficient grounds to justify exercising my authority to investigate the allegations you have set out.”

 

This too, with respect, was erroneous. Your June 23, 2022 letter concedes that I made my accommodation request, and that the Transportation Committee chair did not take any of the accommodating actions that I requested. Strong authority from the Supreme Court of Canada holds that in this situation, the respondents to my complaint have the burden to prove that it would have been impossible for them to effectively accommodate my disability-related needs without undue hardship, and that they did everything they could short of incurring undue hardship. (See British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union (B.C.G.S.E.U.) [1999] 3 S.C.R. 3).

 

You then in substance conclude that the Committee chair did enough, ruling as follows:

 

“I note, however, that following your delegation, the Chair took specific actions in response to the concerns you raised. As your submission notes, the Chair:

 

  • Asked City staff what virtual meetings platform they had used in the past, and staff offered a reply;
  • Commented that he had confirmed with the Clerk that the platform had been used before and indicated that he and/or other Committee Members would follow-up with staff with respect to compliance and standardization; and
  • Asked staff to confirm that Committee Members had access to your presentation, to which staff replied that Members had been provided with your written submission, and that it remained available for Members to access from a shared drive.

 

Based on the information available to me, it is my belief that the Chair’s actions indicate that he acknowledged the concerns you raised, and took steps to confirm relevant information with staff. I have considered the Chair’s duties to enforce the Rules of Procedure and inform Members of the Committee of the procedure to be followed. Based on my review, I do not believe that there are sufficient grounds to justify exercising my authority to investigate the allegations you have set out.”

 

Before rejecting my complaint for these reasons, you did not contact me to get my feedback on any of this. Had you done so, I would have provided the following responses. These are fatal to any and all of them as justifications for failing to accommodate my disability:

 

  1. The chair’s asking City staff what meeting platforms they have used in the past and getting their reply did not disprove that I did not get a chance to be fully and clearly heard. The audio on the Youtube recording proves that barrier beyond doubt.

 

  1. The Committee chair’s confirming that the meeting platform had been used in the past as well provided no proof that this platform presented no barriers at this meeting. It provided no accommodation for my disability.

 

  1. The Committee chair’s statement that he would follow up with City staff “with respect to compliance and standardization” did not accommodate my needs at that meeting. It provided no assurance that a similar barrier would be prevented in the future.

 

  1. The Committee chair’s confirming with City staff that Committee members had access to my written submission did not accommodate my needs in this meeting’s circumstances. The Committee members were entirely absorbed in hearing deputations, debating the issue, and voting. They had no time to read my 10 page brief before voting. The purpose of deputations is to attempt to persuade the Committee members of the viewpoint we wanted them to take when voting. In this case, the Committee ended up voting against our position. Moreover, as one of the Committee members indicated during the exchange over my deputation, they did not even know I had filed a written submission. As such, they would not have read it in advance.

 

None of the reasons you stated demonstrate that it was impossible for any or all of the members of the Ottawa Transportation Committee to have done more to accommodate my undisputed disability-related needs, without incurring undue hardship.

 

In conclusion, I respectfully ask that you reconsider your decision, and that you investigate my complaint on the merits, before forming any adverse opinion about its merit. A refusal to even investigate my complaint would trivialize the duty to accommodate people with disabilities in the democratic process of Ottawa city government – a value that is fundamental in our society.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont, LL.B. (Osgoode Hall Law School), LL.M. (Harvard Law School), LL.D. (Honorary) (Queen’s University, Western University, the Law Society of Ontario, and Brock University

Visiting Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School

Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Twitter: @davidlepofsky

 

Text of the Ottawa Integrity Commissioner’s June 23, 2022 Refusal to Investigate the March 20, 2022 Complaint Filed by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky

 

 

June 23, 2022

Dear Mr. Lepofsky,

Re:       Request for Investigation – Conduct of Members of the City of Ottawa’s Transportation Committee

I have completed a comprehensive intake analysis of your Request for Investigation, submitted to my Office on March 20, 2022, into alleged contraventions of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council (the “Code of Conduct”) by Members of Transportation Committee.

My intake analysis was focused on determining if there are sufficient grounds to proceed with a formal investigation. The purpose of this communication is to provide you with the results of my review.

For the reasons set out in greater detail below, I believe my authority to intervene in matters related to the management of Council and Committee meetings is limited. I have determined there are insufficient grounds to make an exception in this case.

Request for Investigation – Summary of Key Issues

 

The formal complaint alleges that Members of the Transportation Committee who were present when you made your delegation on March 2, 2022, breached Section 7 of the Code of Conduct. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the breach occurred when Members did not grant your request to defer consideration of the item “2021 Electric Kick Scooter Strategy and Pilot Report”, and did not grant your request to make your delegation through an accessible medium.

 

Your submission includes the following statement describing how you believe the alleged actions constituted a breach of Section 7 of the Code of Conduct:

“My complaint is about the failure of the Committee chair and members of the Committee to fulfill their duty to accommodate my disability, up to the point of undue hardship, in order to ensure that I could fully and fairly take part in the Committee proceedings regarding the e-scooters issue. This constitutes discrimination based on disability contrary to section 7 of the Code of Conduct.”

 

Analysis

 

As part of my intake analysis, I carefully reviewed the information provided in your request for investigation as well as other publicly available information relevant to the issues raised, including the YouTube video recording of the March 2, 2022 Transportation Committee meeting.

 

Jurisdiction

 

In the years since municipal codes of conduct were first established, a growing body of rulings from some of my colleagues, both past and present, have taken the position that integrity commmissioners should not interfere with the conduct and management of any particular meeting of Council or its Committees.

This position is strongly rooted in recognition of City Council’s statutory responsibility to establish the rules of procedure that will govern its meetings and the Chair’s duty to enforce decorum and orderly conduct during meetings. The presiding officer should have a certain degree of autonomy to ensure that a meeting is conducted in keeping with the Council’s rules of procedure.

I accept this position and am of the opinion that generally, allegations arising out of a Council or Committee meeting are not within my authority to investigate. My recent 2022 Mid-year Report to Council (p. 5 – 6) sets out this position.

This does not mean that all concerns related to the conduct of Members during meetings are beyond my authority as Integrity Commissioner, only that my authority to intervene in matters related to the management of Council and Committee meetings is limited.

 

 

 

Analysis of Allegations

 

After careful review of the YouTube video of the Transportation Committee proceedings of March 2, 2022, including your delegation and the Chair’s response, I do not believe there are sufficient grounds to justify exercising my authority to investigate the allegations you have set out.

 

I acknowledge that Members of the Transportation Committee did not grant your requests to defer consideration of the e-scooter item, or to make your delegation through an alternate, accessible medium. I note, however, that following your delegation, the Chair took specific actions in response to the concerns you raised. As your submission notes, the Chair:

 

  • Asked City staff what virtual meetings platform they had used in the past, and staff offered a reply;
  •  Commented that he had confirmed with the Clerk that the platform had been used before and indicated that he and/or other Committee Members would follow-up with staff with respect to compliance and standardization; and
  • Asked staff to confirm that Committee Members had access to your presentation, to which staff replied that Members had been provided with your written submission, and that it remained available for Members to access from a shared drive.

 

Based on the information available to me, it is my belief that the Chair’s actions indicate that he acknowledged the concerns you raised, and took steps to confirm relevant information with staff. I have considered the Chair’s duties to enforce the Rules of Procedure and inform Members of the Committee of the procedure to be followed.[1] Based on my review, I do not believe that there are sufficient grounds to justify exercising my authority to investigate the allegations you have set out.

 

Given the matters set out above, I have determined that the complaint does not provide sufficient grounds to move forward with an investigation.

 

 

 

Conclusion 

 

As noted above, I find there are insufficient grounds to proceed with a formal inquiry into the matters set out in your request for investigation. As a result, I have decided not to investigate your complaint and I consider this matter closed.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Karen E. Shepherd

Integrity Commissioner/Commissaire à l’intégrité 

Office of the Integrity Commissioner

Bureau du commissaire à l’intégrité

110 Laurier Avenue West/Ouest

Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1

Direct Line/ Ligne directe (613) 580-2424 Ext./poste 21978

integrity@ottawa.ca/integrite@ottawa.ca

 

 

cc : Donald Bur

[1] Council Procedure By-law, Section 78.

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

 

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

 

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  at https://youtu.be/uTBYjzwOkzM

 

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).

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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

 

 

Read the June 20th, 2022 AODA Alliance’s Brief to London City Council’s Civic Works Committee on Electric Scooters

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/

 

Say No to All Electric Scooters in London, Whether Privately-Owned or Rented – Protect Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors, Children and Others from the Dangers E-Scooters Create

 

AODA Alliance’s Brief to London City Council’s Civic Works Committee

Via email: cwc@london.ca

June 20, 2022

 

1. Introduction and Summary

 

The AODA Alliance strongly commends and supports the London staff report recommendation that London not proceed with a shared e-scooter pilot, in which riders can rent an e-scooter. We applaud the London city staff conclusion that:

 

“With the concerns about safety, equity and accessibility, an e-scooter share program should not be permitted at this time.”

 

 

Instead, we recommend that London enforce the law in Ontario, which prohibits anyone from riding an e-scooter in public places in London.

 

London has a legal duty not to create new safety and accessibility barriers for people with disabilities. London must bring itself to a state of being accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. This is a requirement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, implementing the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is not optional. To legalize any e-scooter rider would create new disability safety and accessibility barriers. That would fly in the face of these important laws.

 

Please Stand up for the many people who don’t want to be injured by e-scooters. We ask London to protect all vulnerable people, especially people with disabilities and seniors, whose safety is endangered if London legalizes riding a privately-owned e-scooter in public, as city staff recommends in its report to be presented to the City Council’s Civic Works Committee on June 21, 2022.

 

In this brief, we:

 

  • Explain why e-scooters pose twin dangers to safety and accessibility for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.
  • Offer constructive recommendations on what London’s Civic Works Committee should do with the June 15, 2022 London staff report on micromobility.

 

Montreal and Toronto have wisely rejected e-scooters. So should London. Toronto categorically rejected e-scooters, whether rented or privately-owned, after a careful study of their dangers for people with disabilities, seniors and others.

 

We have no objection to London creating a bike share program. We add that nothing should be done that restricts people with disabilities from using a disability mobility device that assists with their mobility.

 

The non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance advocates to tear down the many accessibility barriers impeding over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. We have played a leading role across Ontario in raising serious disability safety and accessibility concerns with e-scooters. To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s advocacy efforts to protect people with disabilities and others from the dangers that e-scooters pose, visit our e-scooters web page.

 

2. The Serious Twin Dangers that E-Scooters Create for Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors, Children and Others

 

An e-scooter is a silent motor vehicle. A joy-rider with no license or training can rocket on a silent e-scooter at 20 kph or faster. E-scooter riders and innocent pedestrians can 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. (Headlines set out below).

 

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, who have mobility 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.

 

Especially in cities allowing shared e-scooters, e-scooters, left strewn around public places, create new mobility barriers to accessibility for people using a wheelchair, walker, or other mobility device. For people who are blind, deafblind or who have low vision, this is a serious, unexpected, terrifying and dangerous tripping hazard.

 

Toronto City staff produced two excellent, balanced, objective and detailed reports on e-scooters, one in June 2020 and one in April 2021. Taken together, the Toronto staff reports showed that to allow e-scooters 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 relentless corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies claim.

 

We have found no City staff report by any other Ontario municipality that has replicated, improved upon, or in any way refuted the objective research on this issue conducted by Toronto City staff. It is especially important that the Toronto city staff reports address dangers posed by e-scooters, whether privately-owned or rented.

 

E-scooters 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 regularly ridden on sidewalks. Here again, this is not limited to rented e-scooters.

 

Last year, Toronto City Council commendably voted unanimously not to allow e-scooters, whether privately-owned or rented. 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 strongly recommended that their respective City Councils not allow e-scooters. People with disabilities have given deputation after deputation to Toronto, Ottawa and Mississauga City Councils, saying that e-scooters should be banned.

 

There is overwhelming Ontario-based proof that e-scooters pose these twin dangers for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. It comes directly from Ottawa, among other places. The February 2022 Ottawa city staff report showed that according to a survey that Ottawa staff conducted after two years of piloting e-scooters, there was a major problem with e-scooter riders riding on sidewalks and leaving e-scooters strewn on sidewalks. Both of these activities were forbidden. The Ottawa staff report states:

 

“79% of all survey respondents encountered sidewalk riding, of which:

67% did not report to City, providers or police

64% felt uncomfortable and unsafe”

 

“83% of all survey respondents encountered mis-parked e-scooters (up from 69% in 2020), of which

77% left them where they were

Approx. 16% reported them to the City or to the e-scooter providers”

 

A sampling of 25 media headlines further illustrates the kind of injuries that London must expect to inflict on its residents and visitors, if it green-lights the city staff proposal as it relates to e-scooters:

 

  1. Altercation between e-scooter riders and occupants of vehicle before fatal stabbing in downtown Ottawa, police say

 

  1. Vernon woman spent two days in hospital after being struck by rental scooter

 

  1. National pedestrian safety campaign backs Chorley mum’s petition for stricter e-scooter laws after daughter hit

 

  1. Italy debates electric scooter safety after teenager dies in accident

 

  1. E-scooters: Sister of six-year-old boy who had skull fractured by teenage rider calls for under-21 ban

 

  1. Woman who can ‘barely dress’ herself after being hit by e-scooter lashes out

 

  1. Paris police search for two e-scooter riders after pedestrian killed

 

  1. Child taken to hospital following e-scooter collision

 

  1. Moment teenager on an e-scooter almost ploughs into a lorry while riding on the WRONG side of the road

 

  1. Three-year-old girl left with ‘life-changing’ injuries after collision with man riding e-scooter

 

  1. Electric scooters drive accident epidemic as young man, 20, latest to die in collision

 

  1. Teen e-scooter rider pleads guilty in incident which caused pedestrian severe brain injuries

 

  1. Girl’s jaw and gums had to be realigned after accident with e-scooter; rider arrested

 

  1. Canterbury woman struck by electric scooter suffers two broken limbs

 

  1. E-scooter casualties in London soar by 570% as number of pedestrians hurt DOUBLES in a year – putting pressure on Sadiq Khan over rental trial scheme

 

  1. 79-year-old woman in hospital after being knocked down by a scooter

 

  1. Actress Lisa Banes dies after being hit by scooter in Manhattan

 

  1. E-scooter drivers endanger other road users significantly more than cyclists

 

  1. He broke his bones, now no one wants to be liable: An e-scooter accident shows dangerous legal gaps

 

  1. E-Scooter riders have little, if any, protection in case of injury or accident

 

  1. Bronx man dies after falling off e-scooter hitting head on ground

 

  1. Man seriously hurt in Clifton e-scooter crash

 

  1. Moment passengers evacuated as e-scooter ‘explodes’ at London Tube station

 

  1. Oxford e-scooter crash involving pushchair leaves man and child injured

 

  1. Dental injuries on the rise thanks to e-scooter use: study by U of A prof

 

The strong call for e-scooters not to be allowed comes from a broad spectrum of respected voices in Ontario’s disability community. For example, back 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. This included both rented and privately-owned e-scooters.

 

It is entirely predictable that if any e-scooter riding is permitted in public places in London, they will be ridden on sidewalks, even if London bans sidewalk riding. We know this from the experience in city after city that permits e-scooters, but bans them from sidewalks. An e-scooter rider predictably would prefer to ride where they can on a sidewalk, rather than the road. On the road, they are in danger of being hit by a car. On the sidewalk, they avoid that danger. On the road, they are in danger of having their e-scooter wheels get caught in a pothole. On the sidewalk, there is less of a danger. On the road, cars will be permitted to travel faster than the e-scooter is allowed to drive. On the sidewalk, pedestrians will never walk faster than an e-scooter can.

 

These disability dangers are not limited to e-scooters that are ridden on the sidewalk. When vulnerable people with disabilities cross a street, they and others are endangered by a silent e-scooter racing at them on the road. The same goes for innocent pedestrians walking on a trail through a park.

 

3. Wrong for London to Legalize and Reward Dangerous Illegal Conduct

 

The London staff report states that at present, there are people who ride e-scooters in London, and that a bylaw should therefore be passed to permit this. If people are now riding e-scooters in public places in London such as roads, sidewalks, park trails or bike paths, that conduct is currently illegal. E-scooters are banned by provincial legislation from public places in Ontario, except where a municipality permits them by bylaw. London has not permitted them under any circumstances.

 

The London staff report’s reason for recommending this appears to be that there are “many” people in London who now ride e-scooters, and that it is an efficient way to travel. The report states:

 

“This option recognises that personal e-scooters are already in use in London, they provide an efficient transportation option for many Londoners, and they should be recognised in municipal by-laws.”

 

The fact that there are some in London who are breaking the law does not mean that London and its law enforcement officials should simply give up on the law. We have break-ins every year. The solution has been to step up law enforcement, not to throw up our hands and legalize break-ins.

 

The report provides no objective evidence of how many people are now illegally riding e-scooters in London. Even if there are “many”, we would not be inclined to legalize break-ins because many people are now committing break-ins.

 

The report’s description of e-scooter travel as efficient disregards its danger for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. Those dangers call into question the efficiency of e-scooters as a mode of transportation.

 

The solution to illegal riding of e-scooters in London is to effectively enforce the current law, rather than passing a bylaw to permit and reward this dangerous activity. As noted above, e-scooters create dangers for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.

 

It may be that London has never effectively informed the public that it is illegal to ride an e-scooter in London. If so, then some members of the public may well be buying and then riding an e-scooter, not knowing that this is illegal and dangerous to vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. London should do outreach to the public to let them know that it is illegal to ride e-scooters on public property in London. London should call on any stores selling e-scooters to give their customers fair notice that they cannot ride them in public in London.

 

4. Before Taking Any Steps to Legalize a Person Riding a Privately-Owned E-Scooter, London Should First Investigate Problems Created for Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others Where a Municipality Has Permitted People to Ride a Privately-Owned E-Scooter

 

Before London considers approving the recommendation in the London staff report to legalize riding a privately-owned e-scooter, London staff should be directed to thoroughly investigate and report back to London City Council on the dangers that e-scooters create for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others in cities that allow a person to ride a privately-owned e-scooter. For example, Mississauga amended its bylaws in 2020 to permit a person to ride a privately-owned e-scooter in certain public places. On June 15, 2022, the General Committee of Mississauga City Council received deputations from the public about e-scooters. Several disability community members there told Mississauga not to allow shared rental e-scooters. Debutants also said that Mississauga should never have allowed privately-ridden e-scooters in the first place.

 

As well, during the June 15, 2022 meeting of Mississauga City Council’s General Committee, some Council members expressed concerns about their encounters with e-scooters appearing out of nowhere and almost hitting them. We emphasize that that pertains to a community that allows a person to ride a privately-owned e-scooter.

 

5. Major Additional Enforcement Problems Would Be Created if London Allows Privately-Ridden E-Scooters

 

It is possible for London to enforce an outright ban on riding e-scooters in public places, if it allocates needed resources for this. If law enforcement has reliable eyewitness evidence that a person rode an e-scooter on a road, sidewalk, public path or other public property, they can be prosecuted for this.

 

On the other hand, there are serious additional enforcement problems created if London does as staff recommends, namely permitting a person to ride a privately-owned e-scooter, but prohibits a person from riding a rented e-scooter. To successfully prosecute a person for riding a rented e-scooter, London would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the identity of the person who was riding the e-scooter, and that it was a rented e-scooter, not one they personally own. London will not have ready access to reliable evidence of whether the e-scooter was privately-owned or rented. For example, unlike cars, there is no public mandatory regime for registering one’s ownership of an e-scooter. There is no obligation to display a license plate on an e-scooter, akin to that required for a car.

 

As such, a ban on rental e-scooters risks being effectively unenforceable. Clever entrepreneurs will find ways to rent e-scooters to interested people. If this is not highly visible, or if London’s law enforcement considers this a low priority, they may well expect to get away with it. As it is, there is a demonstrated willingness by some to flaunt the law, as shown by the fact that some people ride e-scooters in public in London now, even though that is completely illegal.

 

Moreover, if rental is not allowed, but private ownership is allowed, what will London do with a person who lends their e-scooter to a second person. Is it to be perfectly legal if that second person uses it at no charge, but will take action if there is a charge? How will London ever know? How can police effectively enforce this? Here again, the clear rule that is much more effectively enforceable is a simple ban on riding e-scooters, pure and simple.

 

6. If London Allows Privately-Owned E-Scooters, the E-Scooter Rental Corporate Lobbyists Will Try to Leverage This to Back London Into Permitting Rental E-Scooters.

 

The relentless e-scooter corporate lobbyists will argue that if e-scooters can be privately owned, why shouldn’t people be free to rent them? For those corporate lobbyists, this will simply be the thin edge of the wedge that they will aim to exploit. London City Council should avoid being backed into a corner.

 

7. Hard to Regulate the Features of Privately Owned E-Scooters

 

There are different models of e-scooters. There is no national safety standards or certification for them. Privately-sold e-scooters are capable of speeding far faster than the maximum provincial speed limit. If London allows privately-owned e-scooters, rather than banning them altogether from public places, London will have nothing in place to ensure that the models sold and driven in London cannot exceed the provincial speed limit, maximum weight and other requirements. Here again, the law will simply be unenforceable, especially if London does not allocate a massive amount of money to e-scooter law enforcement.

 

8. London should Impose These Mandatory Requirements If It Allows Privately-Owned E-scooters to be Ridden in Public Places

 

If, despite the foregoing, London chooses to amend its bylaws to allow a person to ride a privately-owned e-scooter in public places, then London should include in that bylaw substantial mandatory requirements, including all of the following:

 

  1. Every e-scooter rider should be required to carry mandatory liability insurance for injury, death or property damage that they cause, at least equal to the coverage required of motor vehicle owners or drivers.

 

  1. Every rider of any age should be required to wear a helmet while riding an e-scooter. Ontario only requires this for 16 to 18 year old people. London can and should require it of all e-scooter riders.

 

  1. There should be a mandatory zero-tolerance requirement for any e-scooter left strewn on a sidewalk. The e-scooter should be confiscated and disposed of, at the expense of the e-scooter owner. Private individuals should be able to remove and dispose of such e-scooters.

 

  1. If there is any non-compliance reported regarding sidewalk riding or other such issues impinging on safety or accessibility, the pilot should be immediately suspended, pending a report to City Council with recommended program revisions to eliminate this danger.

 

  1. Before any bylaw can be approved or considered to legalize riding a privately-owned e-scooter, city staff should be required to present to City Council for its approval a budget for substantially increased law enforcement, to ensure that e-scooters do not create new disability barriers or safety threats. No e-scooter program should be permitted until and unless that budget is approved by City Council.

 

  1. London should enact very strict penalties for improper e-scooter riding, far more than $75 to $100 for a violation. No pilot with privately-owned e-scooters should begin until and unless those stiff penalties are enacted and widely publicized.

 

  1. No one may ride an e-scooter unless they own the e-scooter, and have proof of ownership in their possession, which police and other law enforcement officials should be entitled to ask for.

 

  1. An e-scooter should not be permitted to be ridden in public unless the owner has had the e-scooter certified by an authority which London approves, to the effect that:
  2. a) The e-scooter cannot operate at a speed higher than 15 KPH.
  3. b) The e-scooter has effective working breaks.
  4. c) Whenever it is powered on, the e-scooter emits a continuous warning sound sufficient for vulnerable pedestrians to hear an approaching e-scooter, even when there is significant traffic, construction or other ambient noise. Pedestrians should be able to hear this sound on a busy, noisy urban street, when the e-scooter is still far enough away that the pedestrian can still dodge it in time. The City of London should pre-approve that sound quality and volume, through a public approval process that includes the London Accessibility Advisory Committee, the AODA Alliance and other disability organizations that are interested in this issue.

 

9. Concerns with the London staff report

 

We are very appreciative of London staff recommending against a pilot with rental e-scooters. This is far preferrable to the harmful position taken by city staff in Mississauga, Hamilton and Ottawa, to name a few.

 

We disagree, however, with the London staff report’s statement that allowing privately-owned e-scooters has no financial consequences for London. The taxpayer will have to shoulder increased demands on the health care system. London will have to deploy additional law enforcement resources, especially to be able to prove whether an accused was riding an e-scooter they own or one they have rented. To implement the conditions that are essential, as listed above, will impose burdens on London staff.

 

The London staff report incorrectly questions the views of people who oppose e-scooters. The report states:

 

“The majority of respondents in the group with no experience with an e-scooter had negative or very negative impressions (see Figure 3). Since this group of people do not have direct experience with an e-scooter, their negative impression may be suggestive of ‘fear of the unknown’ or the impact of media stories on people’s perception.”

 

Given the small number of people who took part in the London online survey (around 800 or less), and the lack of any showing that it is representative of the public, there is no basis for drawing any such conclusion. The AODA Alliance has obtained feedback over the period of almost three years since the Ontario Government first opened the e-scooter topic. We have received overwhelming opposition to e-scooters, based on people experiencing them in cities where they are allowed, or in cities like Toronto where they are banned but unlawfully ridden in public. We have been very publicly active and visible on this topic for almost three years. The London staff report does not reflect that in its analysis.

 

The London staff report is wrong where it seems to suggest that London really can do nothing about privately-owned e-scooters, leading to their conclusion that this should be legalized. The report states:

 

“The key consideration with the provincial e-scooter pilot is that it applies to both personal and shared e-scooters. They need to be dealt with separately as the City has no control over the availability of e-scooters for personal purchase and use. They are already being used in London. These scooters cannot be regulated like e-scooter share vehicles.”

 

There are two major errors here. First, as noted earlier, London can simply leave in place the ban on e-scooters, and can effectively enforce the ban. As well, if London wishes to allow privately-owned e-scooters to be ridden in public, it can impose restrictions on them beyond those which Ontario has mandated. Ontario has done nothing to preclude this.

 

It is good that the London staff report recognizes that e-scooters present accessibility and safety concerns as well as other concerns. It is also good that this appears to contribute to London staff recommending that London not proceed with allowing rental e-scooters. However, with great respect for the London staff, their report makes no sense when it comes to the same accessibility and other dangers created by e-scooters that are privately-owned. The London staff report states:

 

“Concerns of safety, accessibility and equity are valid as evidenced in other municipalities. For personal e-scooters, it is up to the rider to be conscientious. For e-scooter share services, the design of the service must take into account who would benefit the most, who is the system designed for, how to ensure equitable access, and whose mobility and accessibility is being affected by their use.”

 

It is not good enough for London to simply leave it to the riders of privately-owned e-scooters to “be conscientious.” Experience in city after city shows that too often, they are not. Moreover, they aren’t required to have insurance to cover the harm and injuries they inflict. There is no evidence that e-scooter riders who rent their e-scooter lack conscientiousness, but if the e-scooter is privately-owned, we can trust them to be conscientious.

 

10. Concluding thoughts – London Should View with Great Skepticism the Conduct of Ontario Cities that Have Allowed E-Scooters

 

As noted earlier, it is very commendable that the London staff report recognizes that e-scooters present accessibility and safety dangers. Toronto City Council unanimously rejected e-scooters in any form, because of their accessibility and safety dangers for people with disabilities, seniors and others. This came after Toronto City Council had directed Toronto city staff to investigate the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities, and the options, if any, for preventing these. Toronto city staff ultimately reported back to City Council that e-scooters do present these dangers, and that there are no effective measures for preventing them. Here again, this was not limited to rental e-scooters.

 

In contrast, the very same disability concerns have been ignored, downplayed or marginalized by city staff in some other cities. It was not even mentioned in the staff report to Brampton City Council which recommended an e-scooter pilot. Hamilton is proceeding with an e-scooter pilot even though its Accessibility Advisory Committee has called on that city not to do so. Ottawa is proceeding with a third year of e-scooters, despite strong opposition from Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and people with disabilities in Ottawa. On June 15, 2022. Mississauga’s General Committee received a staff report, calling for a shared e-scooter pilot. That report seriously downplayed and marginalized disability concerns. None of these cities have disproven the detailed evidence in the two Toronto city staff reports on point.

 

This all comes after the Ontario Government completely disregarded serious disability concerns when it passed regulations in 2019 that allow municipalities to run an e-scooter pilot. It was evident in that case, and in cities that have approved rental e-scooters, that they were acting at the behest of the e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists.

 

Across Ontario, vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others who are at risk of serious injury due to e-scooters deserve greater concern and respect. The best way for that to be achieved is to leave in place the ban on e-scooters, and to effectively enforce that ban.

 

 

Read the Text of the June 15, 2022 London City Staff Report on E-Scooters

Text of the June 15, 2022 London City Staff Report on E-Scooters

 

Note: This document is formatted exactly as it was sent to the AODA Alliance by the City of London.

 

London City Staff Report to Civic Works Committee

 

To:                      Chair and Members

                             Civic Works Committee

From:             Kelly Scherr, P.Eng., MBA, FEC

Deputy City Manager, Environment & Infrastructure

Subject:            Participation in Provincial E-scooter Pilot

Date:                  June 21, 2022

Recommendation

That the on the recommendation of the Deputy City Manager, Environment and Infrastructure, the following actions be taken with respect to participation in the Province of Ontario’s electric kick-style e-scooter pilot:

 

  1. This report BE RECEIVED for information;

 

  1. City Administration BE AUTHORIZED to advise the Province of Ontario that the City of London will be participating in the personal e-scooter portion of the Provincial pilot, subject to the approval of c., below, and will not be participating in the e-scooter share program, it being noted that the Provincial pilot ends December 2024;

 

  1. Civic Administration BE AUTHORIZED to update relevant municipal by-laws to incorporate e-scooters for personal use and bring back a report of proposed by-law amendments to the Civic Works Committee at a future meeting; and

 

  1. Civic Administration BE DIRECTED to monitor other municipalities involved with the Provincial e-scooter share program for the purpose of obtaining details pertinent to such plans as the Climate Emergency Action Plan, Mobility Master Plan, and The London Plan.

 

Executive Summary

 

The purpose of this report is to provide Committee and Council with background information and a synopsis of input on participation in the Province’s electric kick-style e-scooter pilot. The Provincial e-scooter pilot includes both e-scooters for personal purchase and use, and e-scooter share services (i.e., similar to bike share services).

 

An e-scooter is a stand-up scooter powered by an electric motor. They are generally designed for use by adults with a large deck in the centre upon which the rider stands. They are a micromobility option (e.g., along with bike share and e-bike share) that is becoming more popular in many North American cities.

 

Several other Ontario municipalities are examining or participating in the Ontario e-scooter pilot, specifically:

 

  1. Personal E-scooters Programs
  • Ottawa, Hamilton, Windsor, York Region, Brampton and Mississauga allow personal e-scooters. The Region of Waterloo will allow them as of July 1, 2022.
  • Toronto is currently not allowing either personal use or e-scooter share services.

 

  1. E-scooter Share Programs
  • Ottawa and Windsor have e-scooter share services in place. Windsor’s system includes e-bikes.
  • Hamilton, Brampton and Region of Waterloo (in partnership with cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo), are working towards e-scooter share services.
  • Mississauga is reviewing e-scooter share.

 

 

Contact was made with many of these municipalities in 2021 and 2022. In addition, details provided by e-scooter vendors and other on-line sources was reviewed by City staff.

 

In London, the public, City advisory committees, City service areas, and partner organizations’ feedback was collected in the summer of 2021.  In summary, a range of feedback was received.  For the public, overall, those who have tried or own an e-scooter are supportive of allowing them in London.  Generally, those who have no experience with e-scooters are not supportive.

 

This report includes recommendations for both options of the provincial pilot, personal e-scooters and e-scooter share systems:

 

  • With respect to personal e-scooters; Civic Administration recommend that for the remainder of the provincial pilot (ends December 2024), allow e-scooters for personal use in the same locations where bicycles are allowed for adults (i.e., not on sidewalks) and update related by-laws. This option recognises that personal e-scooters are already in use in London, they provide an efficient transportation option for many Londoners, and they should be recognised in municipal by-laws. This option is referred to in the report as A-1. Allow Personal E-scooters and Update By-laws.

 

  • With respect to e-scooter share programs; Civic Administration recommend not participating in the e-scooter share portion of the provincial pilot. Rather, it is recommended London proceed with monitoring and reviewing other municipalities’ pilots to learn about their services’ set-up and challenges, and how they dealt with by-law updates. This information will be used to inform the development of the Mobility Master Plan and the implementation of the Climate Emergency Action Plan and The London Plan. This option is referred to as B-3. Do Not Join the Provincial Pilot; Monitor and Review Other Municipalities’ Pilots

 

Financial Impact/Considerations
This review, analysis and recommended direction has identified three main items with respect to financial considerations noting that the financial impact may occur in a different project as noted in number 3 below:

 

  1. A-1. Allow Personal E-scooters and Update By-laws

Existing City staff resources will be used to review and address relevant municipal by-laws. There is no additional financial impact for City staff. During the Pilot, discussions will occur with London Police Services and Municipal Compliance staff from an enforcement perspective.

 

  1. B-3. Do Not Join the Provincial Pilot; Monitor and Review Other Municipalities’ Pilots

Existing City staff resources will be used to monitor and review e-scooter share pilot programs and full-scale programs. There is no additional financial impact for City staff.

 

  1. City staff still recommend proceeding with a bike share system, with a Request for Proposals (RFP) to be issued later in 2022. This matter will be the subject of a future Civic Works Committee report. The absence of e-scooters within the bike share system RFP may impact the financial aspects of a bike share system.

Linkage to the Corporate Strategic Plan

Municipal Council’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan for the City of London continues to recognize the importance of active transportation, cycling, and the need for a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient city. Personal and shared e-scooter use addresses four of the five Areas of Focus, at one level or another:

 

  • Strengthening Our Community
  • Building a Sustainable City
  • Growing our Economy
  • Creating a Safe London for Women and Girls

On April 23, 2019, the following was approved by Municipal Council with respect to climate change:

 

Therefore, a climate emergency be declared by the City of London for the purposes of naming, framing, and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our eco systems, and our community from climate change.

 

On April 12, 2022 Municipal Council approved the Climate Emergency Action Plan which includes Area of Focus 4, Transforming Transportation and Mobility.

 

Analysis

 

1.0 Background Information

 

     Previous Reports Related to this Matter

 

Relevant reports that can be found at www.london.ca under Council meetings include:

 

  • Proposed Approach to Review E-Scooters in London (January 7, 2020 meeting of Civic Works Committee (CWC), Agenda Item # 2.8)
  • Cycling and Transportation Demand Management Upcoming Projects (March 30, 2021 meeting of CWC, Agenda Item # 2.12)
  • 6th Report of the Accessibility Advisory Committee (July 27, 2021 meeting of Community and Protective Services Committee, Agenda Item # 4.2)
  • 7th Report of the Transportation Advisory Committee (August 31, 2021 meeting of CWC, Agenda Items # 4.1 and 4.2)

 

1.2     Background

 

An e-scooter is a stand-up scooter powered by an electric motor. They are generally designed for use by adults with a large deck in the centre upon which the rider stands. They are a micromobility option (e.g., along with bike share and e-bike share) that is becoming more popular in many North American cities.

 

 

An e-scooter share system is a service in which electric motorized scooters are made available to use for short-term rentals. E-scooters can be either “docked” at racks or they can be dockless, meaning that they are dropped off and picked up from any location in a designated service area. The e-scooters are generally rented through a mobile app, although some system operators have provisions for those without mobile data access.  They are meant for short point-to-point trips, first mile/last mile connections with transit, and recreational/ tourism uses.

 

Appendix A presents frequently asked questions and answers to help provide more context on e-scooter share services and how they are being used in other municipalities.

 

In January 2020, the Province of Ontario launched a five-year e-scooter pilot program. It ends December 2024. The pilot is intended to evaluate the use of both personal and shared e-scooters, to examine their ability to safely integrate with other vehicle types and determine whether existing provincial rules of the road are adequate.  As part of the pilot, Ontario municipalities first need to pass by-laws to define where e-scooters can operate and where they can be parked (e.g., setting up designated parking locations).

 

More information on the provincial pilot is available at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/vehicles/electric/electric-scooters.shtml

 

1.3     Experience Elsewhere

 

Several other Ontario municipalities are examining or participating in the provincial e-scooter pilot.  This includes allowing personal e-scooters, allowing e-scooter share services, or both personal and e-scooter share.  Activity in Ontario slowed down in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Recent activities include:

 

  • Brampton ran a short-term, small-scale e-scooter share pilot project in one municipal park. In early 2022, Brampton approved allowing e-scooter share services with potentially three operators.  Further details are expected this summer.
  • Hamilton has passed by-laws to allow personal e-scooter use and shared e-scooter services. Shared services are planned for 2022 over a two-year period.  Permits include a list of safety requirements for the operators.
  • Mississauga has updated its by-laws allowing personal e-scooters and is seeking public input on their use. This is in response to the presence of personally owned e-scooters already in use in the city. Mississauga has not opted into the shared e-scooter portion of the provincial pilot.  Feedback on the use of personal e-scooters will help the City determine whether a program of shared e-bikes and/or e-scooters should be pursued.

 

  • Ottawa approved personal e-scooters and e-scooter share services in 2020. For the 2021 season, safety and accessibility features and innovations were prioritized in the e-scooter share selection process.  In addition, the City’s Accessibility Office participated in the evaluation process.  Three companies were selected to provide services in 2021, including expanding to a satellite project outside of the central Ottawa area. Both services remain operational.
  • Region of Waterloo (in 2019) ran an e-scooter share service on private property (specifically, property owned by the University of Waterloo). In 2021, Waterloo Region gathered feedback on the use of personal e-scooters and shared e-scooter service on public property.  Personal e-scooters will be allowed as of July 1, 2022.  E-scooter share will be part of a micromobility RFP, issued from the Region in partnership with cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.  Service launch is planned for summer 2022.
  • Toronto voted not to opt-in to the provincial pilot for either personal or shared e-scooters. The decision was informed by the potential impacts and implications that allowing e-scooters to operate in public spaces could have for pedestrians and people living with disabilities.

 

  • Windsor approved an e-scooter share service within a defined area in the spring of 2021. The service area includes some slow zones (15 km/h) and no park zones.  It also includes some e-bikes. The shared service area is different then where personal e-scooters are allowed.

 

In addition, several other Canadian municipalities provide e-scooter share services, including:

 

 

  • Calgary and Halifax have e-scooter share services;
  • Edmonton has e-scooter and bike share services;
  • Kelowna allows personal e-scooters and has e-scooter and bike share services.
  • Vancouver allows personal e-scooters; and
  • Victoria and the Province of Manitoba are reviewing e-scooters.

2.0 Discussion and Considerations

 

2.1     Context

 

Two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) were issued in August 2020: one for proposals to run a bike share system in London, and one for proposals to run an e-scooter share system subject to Municipal Council approval for the use of e-scooters in London.  As a result of the extenuating circumstances surrounding the pandemic, the City cancelled the RFPs in late 2020.  City staff did learn more about the current state of the bike and e-scooter share service markets, including the operating cost benefits of providing both bikes and e-scooters as part of a coordinated micromobility service versus a bike-only system.

 

As a result, in spring 2021, City staff was directed to develop a new micromobility RFP that better meets the needs of Londoners and the City, pending Council approval to allow e-scooter use in London as part of the provincial pilot project.  If Council approves not participating in the provincial e-scooter pilot, then a revised bike share RFP could be issued.

 

2.2     Input Received

 

Over the summer 2021, City staff requested input from Londoners (including businesses), partners, City advisory committees, and City service areas to help inform Council’s choices for participation in the provincial pilot.  The highlights presented below are separated between general feedback, feedback specific to personal e-scooters, and feedback specific to e-scooter share.

 

General Feedback

 

Public input on e-scooters was gathered primarily through the Get Involved platform.  Overall, the Get Involved website had 804 visitors, and 743 feedback forms were completed.

 

The majority of questions and open-ended responses focused on e-scooter share.  However, many open-ended responses apply to personal e-scooters too. Among all the respondents, the most noted concerns were:

 

  • Lack of safe infrastructure
  • Lack of clear regulation or enforcement for e-scooters
  • Being misused and improper storage

 

  1. Personal E-scooters

 

Public

 

Get Involved respondents were asked a couple of questions in regards to e-scooters, which can be applied to personal e-scooters.

 

Out of 739 total responses to these two questions, 40 per cent of respondents said that they own, or may plan to own a personal e-scooter. Whereas 60 per cent stated that they do not own, or plan to own an e-scooter (as shown in Figure 1).

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Breakdown of respondents who own or plan to own a personal e-scooter

 

 

Further details of public input on e-scooter share is in Appendix B.

 

City Advisory Committees

 

Feedback was received from the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee (ACCAC) and Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC).

 

ACCAC’s key points about personal e-scooters included:

 

  • Does not support allowing e-scooters in London; and
  • Risks of accessibility, liability, lack of environmental benefits, and long-term costs outweigh any perceived benefits.

 

The Accessibility Advisory Committee’s full report is available here:

6th Report of the Accessibility Advisory Committee (July 27, 2021 meeting of Community and Protective Services Committee, Agenda Item # 4.2)

 

TAC’s key point about personal e-scooters was:

 

  • Do not support allowing personal e-scooters in London. Need more study of public safety, liability and licensing.

 

The Transportation Advisory Committee’s full report is available here:

7th Report of the Transportation Advisory Committee (August 31, 2021 meeting of CWC, Agenda Item # 4.1)

 

City Service Areas and Partners

 

There is recognition of the difficulty of limiting and enforcing the use of personal e-scooters.  Unlike e-scooter share vehicles, geofencing and speed limits cannot be placed on personal e-scooters.  Parking correctly can only be encouraged through the provision of visible, accessible racks or delineated e-scooter parking areas.

 

Further details of City service area and partners’ input on personal e-scooters is in Appendix C.

 

  1. E-scooter Share

 

Public

 

There does seem to be a general split in opinion between those who have seen or tried e-scooters in other cities and those who have not.

 

An analysis was conducted of the public feedback received, which included analysing respondents impressions.  Three main groups were defined:

 

  • People with full experience (have seen and used e-scooter share program)
  • People with partial experience (have either seen or used e-scooter share program)
  • People without any experience (have neither seen nor used e-scooter share program)

 

The majority (over 75 per cent) of respondents in the first group (people with full experience) had a very positive or positive impression about e-scooters (see Figure 2).

 

Figure 2: Impressions from respondents who have both experienced seeing or riding an e-scooter (full experience)

 

 

The group of people who have only seen an e-scooter (belongs to the second group) expressed negative impressions. Respondents of this group mostly expressed their concerns based on their experience seeing an e-scooter where an incident happened or where parking was a nuisance.

 

The majority of respondents in the group with no experience with an e-scooter had negative or very negative impressions (see Figure 3). Since this group of people do not have direct experience with an e-scooter, their negative impression may be suggestive of ‘fear of the unknown’ or the impact of media stories on people’s perception.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3: Impressions from respondents who have never seen or ridden an e-scooter (without any experience)

 

City Advisory Committees

 

Feedback was received from the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee (ACCAC) and Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC).

 

ACCAC’s key points included:

 

  • Does not support allowing e-scooters in London; and
  • Risks of accessibility, liability, lack of environmental benefits, and long-term costs outweigh any perceived benefits.

 

TAC’s key point about e-scooter share was:

 

  • Support approval of a multi-stage 3rd party docked e-scooter share pilot that closely follows the Province’s guidelines for municipalities. This should be accompanied by budget to cover a coordinator to oversee the pilot, additional staff and operating expenses, and enhanced enforcement;
  • Allow shared e-scooters in bike lanes, pathways, and quiet residential streets;
  • The pilot should be monitored closely. Western and Fanshawe should be invited; and

 

  • Thorough public outreach plans should be developed.

 

City Service Areas and Partners

 

There were many common themes that came from service area or partner organizations’ input for e-scooter share.  These included:

 

  • A docked e-scooter system is preferred;
  • Ensure e-scooters are prohibited from sidewalks (this is in line with provincial best practices for municipalities); and
  • Need to clarify enforcement (both jurisdiction and resourcing).

 

There was also a lot of input received that was not consistent across service areas and partners, or was at odds (i.e., support for their use from some and opposition to their use from others).  This was not surprising as e-scooters have the potential to affect City services, partner services and their customers in many ways.

Due to the pandemic, the Middlesex London Health Unit was unable to provide feedback.  Instead, they directed City staff to a couple of Public Health Ontario e-scooter resources.

 

2.1     City Staff Recommendations

 

Based on the research, experience in other municipalities, and local input from Londoners, partner organizations, and City service areas, there are several options for proceeding under the two choices provided by the Provincial pilot:

 

  1. Personal E-scooters

 

A-1. Allow Personal E-scooters and Update By-laws

 

For the remainder of the provincial pilot (about two and half years), allow e-scooters for personal use in the same locations where bicycles are allowed for adults (i.e., not on sidewalks) and update related by-laws.

 

A-2. Allow Personal E-scooters with Restrictions

 

Allow e-scooters for personal use only on streets posted at 50 km/h or less and on dedicated bike lanes and cycle tracks (i.e., not on sidewalks, not on the Thames Valley Parkway and multi-use pathways).

 

A-3. Do Not Join Provincial Pilot; Learn from Other Municipalities

 

No participation in provincial pilot for personal e-scooters in London but learning from other municipalities’ pilots.

 

City Staff Recommendation

 

Based on the feedback received, City staff recommend that Council move forward with Option A-1.  This includes updating relevant municipal by-laws as well as a review of enforcement needs and resourcing.

 

This option recognises that personal e-scooters are already in use in London, they provide an efficient transportation option for many Londoners, and they should be recognised in municipal by-laws.  Increased education and a review of enforcement will be important to address as part of next steps.

 

  1. E-scooter Share

 

B-1. Full E-scooter Pilot Participation

 

Proceed with 250 e-scooters for a two-year pilot project within defined areas of London.  Geofencing would be used to limit speeds on multi-use pathways and the Thames Valley Parkway. Parking would be situated in on-street hubs and specified locations on public property determined by the City and the service operator.

 

E-scooters would not be allowed on sidewalks. Available measures to prohibit their use on sidewalks (e.g., geofencing and/or sidewalk riding detection) would be a requirement within the Request for Proposals.

 

The Full e-scooter pilot would be accompanied by an education and awareness campaign for users and to ensure Londoners know where to expect e-scooters operating and understand the rules in place.

 

Enforcement requirements and resourcing would need to be determined and involve the City of London, the London Police Service, and Western Campus Police.

 

 

B-2. Restricted E-scooter Pilot Participation

 

Proceed with 250 e-scooters for a two-year pilot project within defined areas of London including further user restrictions. Parking would be situated in on-street hubs and specified locations on public property determined by the City and the service operator.

 

E-scooters would not be allowed on sidewalks, multi-use pathways, or the Thames Valley Parkway with the help of riding detection and/or geofencing being a requirement within the Request for Proposals.

 

The restricted pilot would be accompanied by an education and awareness campaign for users and to ensure Londoners know where to expect e-scooters operating and understand the rules in place.

 

Enforcement requirements and resourcing would need to be determined and involve the City of London, the London Police Service, and Western Campus Police.

 

B-3. Do not Join the Provincial Pilot; Monitor and Review Other Municipalities’ Pilots

 

Under this scenario, City staff would learn from other Ontario municipalities’ pilots and their municipal by-law updates. The City would wait until the end of the provincial pilot to do anything related to e-scooter share.  E-scooter operators would not be allowed to provide a shared service during this time.

 

City staff would maintain and strengthen relationships with staff in other Ontario municipalities that have e-scooter share services in place to learn from them.  City staff would also participate in e-scooter discussions through the North American Bikeshare Association (NABSA).

 

City Staff Recommendation

 

Based on the feedback received and further analysis, City staff recommend proceeding with Option B-3.  There are enough municipalities in Ontario engaged or soon to be engaged that London can learn from others over the remainder of the pilot period. These learnings can be used to help inform the development of the Mobility Master Plan and the implementation of the Climate Emergency Action Plan.

 

To date, the input received was helpful in outlining the issues and risks experienced in other municipalities. At this point, the risks outweigh the benefits.  E-scooter share operators have been making technological changes to their services to address many concerns, but the geofencing technology is still not precise enough to avoid accessibility risks.

 

3.0 Financial Impact/Considerations

This review, analysis and recommended direction has identified three main items with respect to financial considerations noting that the financial impact may occur in a different project as noted in number 3 below.

 

  1. A-1. Allow Personal E-scooters and Update By-laws

Existing City staff resources will be used to review and address relevant municipal by-laws. There is no additional financial impact for City staff. During the Pilot, discussions will occur with London Police Services and Municipal Compliance staff from an enforcement perspective.

 

  1. B-3. Do not Join the Provincial Pilot; Monitor and Review Other Municipalities’ Pilots

Existing City staff resources will be used to monitor and review e-scooter share pilot programs and full-scale programs. There is no additional financial impact for City staff.

 

 

  1. City staff still recommend proceeding with a bike share system, with a Request for Proposals (RFP) to be issued later in 2022. This matter will be the subject of a future Civic Works Committee report. The absence of e-scooters within the bike share system RFP may impact the financial aspects of a bike share system.

 

4.0 Key Issues and Considerations

 

^The key consideration with the provincial e-scooter pilot is that it applies to both personal and shared e-scooters.  They need to be dealt with separately as the City has no control over the availability of e-scooters for personal purchase and use. They are already being used in London.  These scooters cannot be regulated like e-scooter share vehicles.

 

Both personal and shared e-scooters can present another transportation option for Londoners, students and visitors making short trips within the service area.  They can also provide a fun way to explore central neighbourhoods.

 

Concerns of safety, accessibility and equity are valid as evidenced in other municipalities.  For personal e-scooters, it is up to the rider to be conscientious.  For e-scooter share services, the design of the service must take into account who would benefit the most, who is the system designed for, how to ensure equitable access, and whose mobility and accessibility is being affected by their use.

 

Operators are deploying new technologies to address and alleviate some of the safety and accessibility concerns raised by pedestrians and those with disabilities, such as using improved geofencing technology to slow down or stop an e-scooter from restricted areas, or ensuring the e-scooter emits a standardized noise.  Municipalities are trying to address safety concerns by making it easier for the public to report misparked e-scooters, putting in place rules for operators to quickly address misparked e-scooters, and include financial penalties as part of any agreement.

 

The Provincial pilot has about two and half years left (pilot closes end of 2024).  This timeframe allows for the review and updates to municipal by-laws to address personal e-scooters and time to assess uptake by Londoners.  It also allows for City staff to monitor and learn from other municipalities’ shared e-scooter systems.

 

Conclusion

 

The provincial e-scooter pilot runs until the end of 2024.  Participating in the pilot for personal e-scooters is an opportunity for the City of London to provide another transportation option to many Londoners.  It also supports the City’s Climate Emergency Action Plan goals by offering a zero-emission transportation option.

 

The two options of the pilot need to be dealt with separately.

 

Personal e-scooters are already in use in London.  This needs to be recognised and addressed.  This can be accomplished with the staff recommendation of Option 1: Allow personal e-scooters and update relevant by-laws.

 

With the concerns about safety, equity and accessibility, an e-scooter share program should not be permitted at this time.  The staff recommendation of Option 3: Monitor and review experience in other municipalities will provide opportunities for City staff to continue to learn about e-scooter share systems including testing operational systems.

 

These other municipalities will be providing data to the Province. The Province will then determine whether a permanent framework is warranted.  This includes making a long-term decision on whether e-scooters are permanently allowed on Ontario roads.  This will need to be considered in London at that time for both personal e-scooter and e-scooter share.

 

 

Prepared by:                    Allison Miller, M.C.P., MCIP, RPP, Senior Coordinator, Transportation Demand Management

 

Jamie Skimming, P.Eng., Manager,

Energy and Climate Change

 

Prepared and                   Jay Stanford, M.A., M.P.A. Director, Climate Change,

Submitted by:                  Environment, and Waste Management

 

Recommended by:          Kelly Scherr, P.Eng., MBA, FEC, Deputy City Manager, Environment & Infrastructure

 

 

Appendix A: General E-Scooter Share FAQs

 

Appendix B: E-scooter Get Involved Feedback Analysis

 

Appendix C: City Service Area and Partners E-scooter Key Points

 

APPENDIX A
General E-scooter Share Frequently Asked Questions

The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) and corresponding general answers are based on details from other municipalities’ e-scooter share programs. The FAQs are organized into the following categories:

 

  • User experience: How e-scooter riders interact with the system;
  • Safety: The measures in place to ensure e-scooter riders and other road and sidewalk users remain safe;
  • Legislation: The division of responsibilities between a municipality and the e-scooter operator;
  • Financial: Cost to e-scooter riders and taxpayers; and
  • Operations: The selection of the e-scooter operator and evaluation of the project.

 

User Experience

  • What is an e-scooter?
  • The Electric Kick-Scooter Pilot Project from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation defines an e-scooter as a vehicle with two wheels oriented longitudinally in the direction of travel with a platform for standing between the two wheels. The vehicle has a steering handlebar that acts directly in the steerable wheel and an electric motor not exceeding 500 watts that provides a maximum speed of 24 km/h. In Ontario, an e-scooter must be equipped with lights and a bell.

 

  • E-scooters vary in their precise shape depending on the manufacturer. An example is shown below:

Source: Bird

 

  • What features are e-scooters required to have?
  • In Ontario, e-scooters require an electric motor, brakes, a handlebar, lights, and a bell or horn.
  • Where can e-scooters be ridden?
  • The Ontario provincial pilot project allows for municipalities to regulate where both private and shared e-scooters can be ridden. Typically, in other municipalities, riding is permitted in bike lanes, low volume and low speed roads, and multi-use pathways. Riding is typically not permitted on sidewalks to ensure pedestrian safety.
  • Who can ride an e-scooter?
  • The Ontario provincial pilot project allows for riders over the age of 16. Helmets are mandatory for riders under 18 years of age.
  • Where are e-scooters typically parked?
  • Owners of personal e-scooters tend to keep them in their possession rather than leaving them outside unattended, given that these scooters are collapsible and easily portable.
  • E-scooters that are operated as part of a shared micromobility system are generally required to be parked in designated parking areas, which can be marked in areas such as existing on-street parking spaces, or in the “furniture zone” of a sidewalk. The furniture zone of a sidewalk is the part of the sidewalk closest to the road that does not impede pedestrian movement.

    Source: City of Calgary

 

Source: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

 

  • How are e-scooter batteries that are part of an e-scooter share system recharged?
  • Operators of an e-scooter based shared micromobility system are responsible for recharging e-scooters. Charging typically takes place overnight.
  • Some operators enable individual system users to recharge scooters in exchange for a discount on their trips.

 

  • When are e-scooters that are part of an e-scooter share system usually used?
  • E-scooters are not designed for use in the snow and are generally only used in the early spring to late fall. Some municipalities have introduced time of day limits for increased safety, restricting e-scooter use overnight when visibility is low.
  • Are there fines for improper use?
  • Some municipalities have introduced fines for improper use as part of their e-scooter by-laws. Examples include fines for multiple riders on a single e-scooter and using the e-scooter to carry cargo.
  • Additionally, individual operators of e-scooter share systems often have the ability to fine users for improper parking or theft, or take more serious action (i.e., removing them from the service entirely).
  • How are COVID-19 protocols followed for e-scooters that are part of an e-scooter share system?
  • Given the shared nature of e-scooters, different riders would inevitably use the same scooter in a short period. Operators are responsible for managing and defining their COVID-19 protocols. For some systems, riders are encouraged to wipe scooters with their own wipes between uses.
  • Since e-scooters are not used in an enclosed environment, the risk of transmission is anticipated to be relatively low.

 

Safety

  • Are helmets required when riding an e-scooter?
  • Helmets are encouraged for all riders and, according to provincial legislation, are required for riders under the age of 18. Users must provide their own helmets.
  • Are there risks associated with riding e-scooters?
  • E-scooters are motorized vehicles which require caution and responsibility from riders. The power and speed limits on e-scooters ensure speeds remain below a threshold where serious injury from scooter use alone is likely. To mitigate the risk of injury, only one rider is permitted per scooter and towing of trailers or cargo is prohibited. E-scooter share systems in other jurisdictions have shown a low number of reported injuries.
  • Are e-scooters legal in Ontario?
  • E-scooters are legal in Ontario under a provincial pilot project designed to evaluate their suitability for urban mobility. Municipalities must pass by-laws to approve e-scooter use in areas under their jurisdiction.
  • How fast can e-scooters travel?
  • To meet the requirements of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, e-scooters must travel no faster than 24 km/h. Some municipalities have further lowered this speed limit for rider safety and to comply with speed limits on multi-use pathways or other locations shared with pedestrians.
  • In other communities, how is the safety of pedestrians on sidewalks and safe operation on multi-use pathways ensured?
  • Operators of personally owned e-scooters can be required to follow the same rules as bicycles, such as prohibitions of their use on sidewalks and staying within posted speed limits on multi-use pathways.
  • Placing restrictions on where shared e-scooters can operate and limiting their speed or even making them come to a stop are options. However, technological restrictions are not possible for personal use e-scooters.
  • Municipalities can prioritize pedestrian safety by banning the use of e-scooters on sidewalks, as well as further limiting shared e-scooter speed or completely disabling the electric motor in areas with high pedestrian activity.
  • In municipalities permitting shared e-scooters to use multi-use pathways, operators can use GPS-based “geofencing” (defined through geographic boundaries) to automatically restrict e-scooter speeds to match multi-use pathway speed limits of 15-20 km/h.
  • Shared service operators can also add features such as “acoustic signaling devices” designed to ensure vision impaired residents can hear the otherwise silent shared electric-scooters coming, a “lock-up” mechanism that requires customers to lock e-scooters to bike racks or utility poles when they are done riding, and high-contrast colours on shared scooter handlebars to help low-vision residents recognize potential obstacles.
  • In other communities, how are users of mobility devices or other accessibility aids accommodated?
  • To comply with provincial law, e-scooters require a bell to communicate with other road users.
  • Given the emerging nature of e-scooters, and accessibility issues being city-specific, consultation with local stakeholders helps inform accessibility considerations of any e-scooter program.

 

  • The e-scooters authorized under provincial legislation in Ontario are limited to models where standing is required.
  • In other communities, how is the correct parking of e-scooters that are part of an e-scooter share system ensured? And that they do not topple over?
  • Depending on the specific operator, users are typically reminded of safe and legal parking practices when using the e-scooter app. Ending a trip often requires a photo to verify scooter location and orientation.
  • Some jurisdictions have also implemented fines for improper parking.
  • Some models of e-scooters use a double kickstand which can help to reduce e-scooters toppling over.
  • In other communities, how are issues or concerns regarding an e-scooter share system handled?

  • Concerns related to specific operator issues like technical problems with the scooter and payment are typically addressed in the user app of a specific operator.
  • Concerns related to municipal matters like parking, safety, and enforcement are usually reported to a number or email.
  • In other communities, how is theft and vandalism of scooters that are part of an e-scooter share system mitigated?
  • Shared e-scooters are equipped with GPS devices, allowing the operators to track the location of each e-scooter in their fleet.

 

Legislative

  • What is a municipality’s role in allowing an e-scooter share system to operate?
  • The Ontario E-Scooter Pilot requires a municipality to pass a by-law to permit scooter use and parking on municipal property, such as sidewalks, pathways, and trails. By-laws also define an operating area for e-scooters, and areas where e-scooters are prohibited. A limit on the number of operators and/or e-scooters can be included.
  • What are e-scooter share operators responsible for?
  • Operators are responsible for the day-to-day operations of their systems. This includes purchasing e-scooters, deploying the fleets of e-scooters, developing the apps typically used to access e-scooters, charging, maintenance, and rebalancing.
  • Can you prohibit where e-scooters are allowed to operate?
  • Operators of personally-owned e-scooters are required to follow the rules set out for them by the municipality
  • In some cities, e-scooters that are part of an e-scooter share system have been restricted in areas with high pedestrian activity.

 

Financial

  • How much do shared e-scooters cost?
  • E-scooter operators are responsible for setting their own prices. The cost to ride is typically a flat fee plus a variable fee based on the time the e-scooter is in use.
  • Can a private/non-shared e-scooter be purchased?
  • Yes, the provincial legislation allows for privately owned e-scooters to be used in municipalities that authorize their use. A municipal council must first decide if private e-scooters are allowed and where they can be operated.
  • Do e-scooter share operators offer subsidies for low income riders?
  • Some e-scooter share operators provide subsidies.

 

E-scooter Share Operations

  • How are e-scooter share operator selected?
  • Operators are either selected using a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process or governed through a business licencing arrangement.
  • Can there be a limit on the number of operators?
  • Yes, many cities allow only a single operator. Other cities have allowed multiple operators.
  • Is there a limit on the number of e-scooters provided in the system?
  • RFP requirements or licencing systems often set a minimum and/or maximum on the number of e-scooters allowed in the system.
  • In other communities, how is e-scooter share bunching addressed?
  • Bunching occurs when e-scooters are not evenly distributed across the service area, resulting in no access in some parts of the service area and an oversupply in others.
  • Operators are typically responsible for redistributing e-scooters to prevent bunching.
  • How do e-scooters interface with transit in other communities?
  • E-scooters can be a way to provide first and last-mile transportation to and from transit stops within the e-scooter share service area.
  • How are e-scooter share pilots monitored and evaluated in other communities?
  • As part of the provincial pilot project, shared e-scooter programs must be monitored and evaluated. Participating municipalities report on pilot findings to the Province to help inform next steps.
  • This involves a quantitative analysis of the trips taken by e-scooter, as well as user surveys and other stakeholders.
  • How is data collected by e-scooter companies governed?
  • A data sharing agreement between the operator and a municipality is generally a requirement in the RFP. Information privacy is a component of this agreement, ensuring that no personal data beyond what is required for the system to operate is collected, and any personal data is anonymized before analysis.

 

 

 

APPENDIX B

E-scooter Get Involved Feedback Analysis

 

Overall Insights

In this analysis of the Get Involved feedback form, two sections are provided to determine the impression and opinions of respondents about e-scooters. The first section determines the impressions, and the second section provides detailed information based on open-ended responses.

For analyzing impressions of respondents 3 main groups were defined:

  1. People with full experience (have seen and used e-scooter share program).
  2. People with partial experience (have either seen but have not used a e-scooter share program).
  3. People without any experience (have neither seen nor used e-scooter share program).

 

The majority of respondents in the first group had a very positive or positive impression about e-scooters (over 75%). While for the second and the third group, a mix of impressions was observed.

The group of people who have only seen an e-scooter (belongs to the second group) expressed negative impressions. Respondents of this group mostly expressed their concern based on their experience seeing an e-scooter where an incident happened or was a nuisance.

The majority of respondents in the group with no experience with an e-scooter had negative or very negative impressions. Since this group of people do not have operating experience with an e-scooter, their negative impression can be suggestive of ‘fear of unknown’ or perceptions obtained by reading or hearing negative stories.

Among all the respondents the most noted concerns are:

  1. Lack of safe infrastructure
  2. Lack of clear regulation or enforcement for e-scooters
  3. Being misused and improper storage

 

  1. Feedback Form Analysis for Personal E-scooters

The Get Involved respondents were asked a couple of questions in regard to e-scooters, which can be applied to personal e-scooters, and the analysis in this section can provide useful insights into public opinion regarding e-scooters.

Out of 739 total responses, almost 40% of respondents said that they own, plan or may plan to own, a personal e-scooter. Whereas 60% stated that they do not own, or plan to own an e-scooter.

This question was also analyzed based on respondents’ experience; considering whether the respondent have seen and or have used an e-scooter. The following three charts indicate the break down of total responses based on a person’s experience:

 

  1. People with full experience (have seen and used e-scooter share program)

People with a full experience have the most positive opinion towards personal e-scooters. 55% of respondents stated that they own, plan or may plan to own, a personal e-scooter in future. The positive responses in this segment of respondents can be an indication of the positive impact of the e-scooter ridership on people’s attitudes towards e-scooter. People who have seen and ridden a personal e-scooter mentioned that they found e-scooters a convenient and entertaining way to commute for short trips and in the open-ended responses they requested the City to launch the e-scooter share program as soon as possible. However, this group has some concerns about:

  1. Lack of enforcement
  2. Lack of safe infrastructure
  3. Theft and vandalism
    1. People with partial experience (have either seen but have not used a e-scooter share program)

The most negative comments were identified in the group of respondents who have seen but have not used an e-scooter share program. They can be referred as observers, with 68.5% negative comments regarding personal e-scooter ownership. The responses in this group are beneficial for identifying the potential pros and cons of e-scooters with likely the most unbiased judgement, since this group has experienced observing other e-scooter riders without having an experience riding one themselves.

Their most significant concerns in order of priority are:

  1. Being misused and improper storage
  2. Jeopardizing pedestrian safety
  3. Lack of enforcement

However, this group acknowledged that e-scooters are convenient, environmentally friendly, and affordable.

 

  1. People without any experience (have neither seen nor used e-scooter share program)

This group of respondents is comprised of individuals who have not seen or used an e-scooter. Since the respondents of this group have not had a real-life experience with e-scooters, their opinion can be potentially be a reflection of what they have heard about e-scooters through media and or other people. This section can provide beneficial insights about how the disseminated information can impact perceptions.

63% of individuals in this group stated that they do not own or plan to own a personal e-scooter. This group was concerned about:

  1. Lack of enforcement
  2. Safety of pedestrians
  3. Stated that they are not interested in this program

However, a smaller portion of respondents mentioned that is being entertaining, environmentally friendly, and they are keen to try e-scooter share program.

 

  1. Feedback Form Analysis for E-scooter Share Program

    1. People with full experience (have seen and used e-scooter share program)

The ‘people with experience’ group constitute of respondents who have both experienced seeing or riding an e-scooter.

Very Positive and Positive comments were received from 85% of the respondents who have seen, ridden and plan to own an e-scooter. With respect to respondents that have seen and ridden an e-scooter but do plan own (figure on next page), 78% had Very Positive and Positive comments.

 

 

 

  1. People with partial experience (have either seen but have not used a e-scooter share program)

This group constitutes people who have either experienced seeing or riding an e-scooter.

 

With respect to people who have seen an e-scooter; but have not ridden and do not plan to own one, Very Positive and Positive comments were received from 22% with Very Negative and Negative comments being larger at 60%.

The reverse occurred for respondents who have seen and plan to own an e-scooter, but have not ridden one (figure on next page); Very Positive and Positive comments remained high at 76% and Very Negative and Negative comments were 8%.

 

 

  1. People without any experience (have neither seen nor used e-scooter share program)

This group constitutes people who have never seen or ridden an e-scooter.

 

With respect to people without any experience, Very Positive and Positive comments were received from 12% with Very Negative and Negative comments being larger at 72%.

With respect to people without any experience but plan to own an e-scooter (figure on next page), Very Positive and Positive comments were received from 76% with Very Negative and Negative comments being larger at 8%.

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX C
City Service Area and Partners E-scooter Key Points

 

The following table is a synopsis of the points raised by those City service areas and City partner organizations who were asked to comment on an e-scooter discussion guide and feedback questions.

 

Service Area and Divisions/Sections Summary of Key Points, Questions and Comments
Risk Management Personal and Shared:

·        Safety for all users of the road/sidewalk and pathways is the ultimate goal.

Shared:

·        Limiting use to specific facilities, locations, speeds and penalties for misuse seem to the be the way forward.

·        Starting as a pilot project, can adjust and modify accordingly if any challenges develop.

Transportation Planning & Design Personal:

Restrict from sidewalks like bikes.

Allow on streets posted at 50km or less, bike lanes and cycletracks.

If speed is regulated, allow on pathways and Thames Valley Parkway (TVP).

Shared:

Service area should be core neighbourhoods and University to leverage the presence of safe cycling facilities and short trips.

No restrictions on streets posted at 50 km or less, bike lanes or cycletracks.  Restrict speed on pathways and TVP to 15 km/hr.

Docked scooters would be ideal system.

Do they reduce emissions by shifting car trips? This needs to be studied.

Note that there is a reduced # of students at Western in summer.

Road Operations Personal and Shared:

No change in service level.  No bare pavement in winter.

Shared:

Service provider handles all operations.

Legal Services Preliminary observations provided on both personal and shared e-scooter programs.
Anti Racism Anti Oppression Personal:

Have already heard from residents about potential impact, speed and disruption that these scooters have had in the community.

Keeping them off sidewalks vital for community safety.

Shared:

Will be vital that the pilot ensures adequate reporting and removal of e-scooters that prevent community mobility.

City needs to ensure adequate community feedback for challenges.

The placement of parked scooters with a gendered, accessibility and equity lens will be vital. Parking should be in well lit and clear areas with curb cuts. The location of e-scooter parking should also consider safety concerns.

·        Understanding who uses e-scooters, how they use them, and who may not be using them and why will be vital.

·        An analysis of usership from an equity perspective. What is the demographic most likely to benefit from the program?

·        Who are stopped most frequently for violations and how this may impact usership?

Municipal Compliance Personal and Shared:

Don’t have authority to stop e-scooters on pathways/TVP.

Anticipate complaints regarding abandoned scooters, use of scooters in non-permitted areas and speed of scooters on established pathways.

Needs to be clarity on jurisdiction and resourcing when planning for anticipated complaints and expected compliance responses.

Parks Planning and Operations Personal and Shared:

City currently receives complaints that the pathways cannot handle the current volume of use, and the existing pathway system is not designed to accommodate additional motorized uses.

Expanding the range of users could trigger the need for significant city-wide investment (depending on scale and scope) to expand the multi-use pathway system and TVP beyond its existing footprint, which would need to incorporate all applicable studies and approvals.

This expansion may be possible in some areas but will prove impossible in other sections, which could fragment the system.

User conflict a concern.

Thames Valley Parkway and other multi-use pathways are designated as a “recreational trail” and from a legal perspective, are maintained to a different standard than City sidewalks which are a higher standard than the pathway system. We would not want to trigger a higher service standard in order to accommodate for the safe use of e-scooters. Such a change in designation would result in significant operational, cost, and legal ramifications.

Personal:

Concerns have been raised with regard to user conflict between pathway users who are walking or running vs those who are cycling or on scooters.

Restrict use from public parks (including all multi-use pathways multi-use paths (MUPS) and TVP).

Challenge we face is that there is only so much capacity the system can sustain.

Shared:

Preference is that use is restricted in all public parks (MUPS and TVP).

If it were implemented, does this service area consider where the limits land on pathways? Are there natural / safe stopping points at the limits of the area? If restricted, how would the Thames Valley Corridor be incorporated into this service as a non-permitted zone?

Prefer docked system, not located in parks.

Concerns with introducing e-scooters to parks, especially if they will not be docked as they will be left scattered throughout parks causing significant maintenance and operational issues.

Planning and Development Personal and Shared:

The London Plan policy 310 states that “Mobility choices such as transit usage, walking, and cycling all require physical activity. This physical effort exerted in active forms of mobility is an excellent way to keep children, adults, and seniors physically fit and generally healthier. However, to reasonably expect people to choose these forms of mobility, we need to offer viable and attractive mobility options. This will happen only if we are deliberate in the way that we plan our mobility infrastructure.”

The London Plan policy 313 states that, “Through the plans and actions we take to design and build our mobility infrastructure, we will: 7. Provide strong linkages between key origins and destinations within our city including the Downtown, Transit Villages, employment areas, major institutions, and major open spaces.

Personal:

To ensure personal e-scooters are a viable transportation option, we would like to see as few restrictions on their use as possible.
Enforcement difficult.

Shared:

Suggest some extensions in service area.

As few restrictions as possible.

Do not have a strong preference for docked or dockless.

Our strong preference is for dedicated parking to occur within vehicle parking spaces, either on-street or in City lots.

Provide more details on preferred locations for docking/charging stations.

Talked to Detroit BIA about their scooter share program and incentives for users.

Tourism London Personal and Shared

Dedicated parking spaces, public education, safe locking and parking places.

Personal:

Restrictions should be similar to the restrictions in place for cyclist. Allow on dedicated bike lanes, cycle tracks, multi-use pathways, TVP, etc.

Shared:

Locations where visitors can access them.  Provide examples.

Expand outside of downtown if successful.

Should use be restricted at city parks or areas where there is high pedestrian traffic?  e.g., restrict to perimeter when Victoria Park festivals.

Docked preferred.

Parked in a high visibility, well lit area which potential cameras for security; high traffic areas; near LTC stops.

Need to ensure they not impeding on pedestrian traffic.

Great option for travelers to city.

Downtown London Shared surveys with membership. No further comments at this time.
London Police Service Personal and Shared:

Theft and abandonment issue.

Personal:

Enforcement big issue to deal with.  Who is enforcing?  Ask needs to be detailed.

Shared:

Less concerned about shared services.

Middlesex London Health Unit Not able to comment as resources tied up with the pandemic. Provided Public Health Ontario resources.
London Transit Commission Personal and Shared:

Restricted on sidewalks like bikes.

Shared:

Preference for docked.

Western University Note: Participation on Western property in the provincial pilot is not up to the City of London.

Personal and Shared:

Not a high priority since pandemic.

Have a shared space hierarchy

COVID affecting how students use transit.

By-law enforcement on campus.

Personal:

Currently, no policies for campus.  Treated as a bike until there are too many and they need a policy.

More scooter use observed.

Shared:

Geofencing on campus an option

Prefer docked system

Interested in looking at agreement.

 

 

Disability Advocates to Present Wednesday at Virtual Meeting of Mississauga City Council’s General Committee to Oppose Allowing a Shared Electric Scooters Program

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Disability Advocates to Present Wednesday at Virtual Meeting of Mississauga City Council’s General Committee to Oppose Allowing a Shared Electric Scooters Program

 

June 14, 2022, Toronto: On Wednesday, June 15, 2022, starting some time after 9:30 AM, the AODA Alliance will make a deputation to Mississauga City Council’s General Committee, urging the city not to authorize a shared electric scooter pilot project. The Committee meeting will be live-streamed at https://www.mississauga.ca/council/council-activities/council-and-

 

Disability advocates will tell the Committee that Mayor Crombie and City Council must not unleash a shared program of dangerous electric scooters in Mississauga. (See AODA Alliance’s June 13, 2022 letter to City Council members, Below.) Experience in city after city shows that e-scooters, a silent menace, endanger public safety in places allowing them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people can’t know 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.

 

Mississauga has been getting less accessible to people with disabilities. A program of shared e-scooters 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 as they are ridden on sidewalks in cities that only ban them from sidewalks. We 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 law suits by the injured. A city staff report, proposing a shared e-scooter program, makes the utterly false claim that there are no financial implications for Mississauga if it adopts a shared e-scooter program. Mississauga has more pressing budget priorities.

 

City Council should not conduct an e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many innocent people will be injured? We already know they will from cities that allow them. Mississauga 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.

 

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.

 

“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. “We call on Mayor Crombie and City Council to stand up for people with disabilities and to stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.”

 

The AODA Alliance’s brief, filed with Mississauga City Council, shows that the Mississauga staff report that pushes for an e-scooter share program is riddled with problems. It gives mere token lip service to serious disability concerns. Incoherently, it does not support a sensible bike-share program but instead supports the more dangerous option of e-scooters. Traditional bicycles are healthier for riders, safer for pedestrians, and able to fulfil the goals of a new Mississauga micromobility strategy.

 

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

Twitter: @aodaalliance

For more background, check out:

The AODA Alliance’s June 13, 2022 brief to Mississauga City Council.

The June 9, 2022 Mississauga staff report addressing e-scooters.

The appendix to the June 13, 2022 Mississauga staff report.

The text of the presentation that Mississauga city staff are to make to City Council on June 15, 2022, and

The AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

Text of the AODA Alliance’s June 13, 2022 Letter to Mississauga 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 13, 2022

 

Via email

To: Mayor: Bonnie Crombie

mayor@mississauga.ca

@BonnieCrombie

 

Councillor: Stephen Dasko

stephen.dasko@mississauga.ca

@DaskoWard1

 

Councillor: Pat Mullin

pat.mullin@mississauga.ca

 

Councillor: Chris Fonseca

chris.fonseca@mississauga.ca

@Chris_Fonseca3

 

Councillor: John Kovac

john.kovac@mississauga.ca

@JohnKovac4

 

Councillor: Carolyn Parrish

carolyn.parrish@mississauga.ca

@carolynhparrish

 

Councillor: Ron Starr

ron.starr@mississauga.ca

@RonStarr6

 

Councillor: Dipika Damerla

dipika.damerla@mississauga.ca

 

Councillor: Matt Mahoney

matt.mahoney@mississauga.ca

@mattmahoney_8

 

Councillor: Pat Saito

pat.saito@mississauga.ca

@patsaitoward9

 

Councillor: Sue McFadden

sue.mcfadden@mississauga.ca

@Sue_Ward10

 

Councillor: George Carlson

george.carlson@mississauga.ca

@CarlsonGeorge

 

Dear Mayor and Members of City Council

 

Re: Protecting Mississauga from Proliferating the Dangers of Electric Scooters

 

We seek your leadership to protect all people in Mississauga, especially people with disabilities and seniors, whose safety is endangered if Mississauga adopts a city staff proposal on June 15, 2022 to hold an e-scooter pilot project. With this letter, we are forwarding to you a detailed brief that we have sent to Mississauga City Council’s General Committee. We have booked a slot to make a deputation to the General Committee when this agenda item comes up on June 15, 2022.

 

We ask you to please stand up to e-scooter corporate lobbyists. Stand up for the many people who don’t want to be injured by e-scooters. We ask that City Council do the following at your June 15, 2022 meeting:

 

  1. Please stop the City’s consideration of a shared e-scooter pilot before it goes any further. If you want to proceed with some new micromobility initiative, establish a far safer bike share program. It is frankly bizarre that Mississauga city staff categorically reject a bike share program, which would be far better for public health and which does not produce more land fill in the form of discarded e-scooters and their limited-life batteries.

 

  1. If not, then at the very least, send this issue back to city staff, to properly and thoroughly study the dangers that e-scooters create for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. 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.

 

  1. 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 e-scooters.

 

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 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, 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 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, including the Mississauga staff report, now placed before your City Council for consideration, 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 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.

 

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 at Toronto City Hall by E-scooter Rental Companies’ Corporate Lobbyists

It is evident that the well-funded e-scooter corporate lobbyists have been trying to get the ear of the City of Mississauga. 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.

 

Mississauga should not run a shared e-scooter pilot project. To run the pilot that your city staff are proposing would expose people in Mississauga to serious injuries if not deaths, just to see if e-scooters are a good idea. Experimenting on the public, when the risks are so serious, is demonstrably immoral. The corporate lobbyists seek a “pilot” as an obvious pretext to establish a market for their product, and to get a foot in the door.

 

Please make Mississauga safer and more accessible for people with disabilities. Do not leave a legacy of a Mississauga where it becomes harder and more dangerous for us to get around. Mississauga already has too many disability barriers. Do not create new ones by creating a shared e-scooter pilot project in Mississauga.

 

Sincerely,

 

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont

Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

 

 

Read the June 13, 2022 brief by the AODA Alliance to Mississauga City Council showing why Mississauga should not adopt a shared e-scooter program

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

Say No to a Shared Electric Scooter Program – The City of Mississauga Should Stand Up for People with Disabilities and Stand Up to the E-Scooter Corporate Lobbyists

AODA Alliance’s Brief to Mississauga City Council’s General Committee

Via email: Dayna.obaseki@mississauga.ca

June 13, 2022

1. Introduction and Summary

We ask Mississauga to protect all vulnerable people, especially people with disabilities and seniors, whose safety is endangered if Mississauga proceeds with the city staff recommendations to be presented to the City Council’s General Committee on June 15, 2022.

City staff propose that Mississauga adopt a sharing program for e-scooters and e-bikes, but not a bike share program. It would be far more appropriate to begin by adopting a bike share program (with which we have no objection). Mississauga should defer or reject a shared e-scooter program.

Please stand up to e-scooter corporate lobbyists! Stand up for the many people who don’t want to be injured by e-scooters. In this brief, we:

” Explain why e-scooters pose twin dangers to safety and accessibility for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.
” Offer constructive recommendations on what the Mississauga General Committee should do with the June 9, 2022 Mississauga staff report on micromobility.
” Explain in detail why the Mississauga staff report is seriously flawed, and should not be approved in its present form.

In short, Montreal and Toronto have wisely rejected e-scooters. So should Mississauga. Toronto rejected e-scooters after a careful study of their dangers for people with disabilities, seniors and others. Mississauga city staff need to give this topic the serious investigation it deserves, not the lip service given in the Mississauga staff report.

It is stunning that Mississauga city staff reject the idea of a bike share program. Bikes would provide the safest and healthiest option for the public, and would create the fewest environmental issues (as opposed to e-scooter batteries creating harmful land fill). City staff not only embrace e-scooters, the vehicle option with the greatest proven record of harm, but they call for the dockless kind, rather than only allowing docked e-scooters (which would reduce some of the problems that e-scooters create). The Mississauga staff report parrots the e-scooter corporate lobbyists’ talking points, when the public needs those dubious talking points to be subjected to careful and skeptical scrutiny.

Mississauga City Council will consider this issue on June 15, 2022, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Mississauga must affirm and fully respect the human rights of vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others, by not approving the city staff recommendation to implement a shared e-scooter program. To approve that city staff recommendation is to create serious new accessibility and safety barriers against people with disabilities. Mississauga already has too many disability barriers. It must not create any more.

If an e-scooter pilot is approved, the AODA Alliance will urge travellers and conference planners to absolutely avoid choosing Mississauga as a destination, because Mississauga has chosen a course of action that creates new accessibility barriers and endangers people with disabilities. We will encourage voters in the fall election to press candidates to oppose e-scooters as a danger to people with disabilities, and to evaluate candidates on that basis.

The non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance advocates to tear down the many accessibility barriers impeding over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. We have played a leading role across Ontario in raising serious disability safety and accessibility concerns with e-scooters. To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s advocacy efforts to protect people with disabilities and others from the dangers that e-scooters pose, visit its e-scooters web page.

2. The Twin Dangers that E-Scooters Create for Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors, Children and Others

An e-scooter is a silent motor vehicle. Where allowed, a joy-rider with no license or training can rocket on a silent e-scooter at 20 kph or faster. E-scooter riders and innocent pedestrians can 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. (Headlines set out below).

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

Toronto City staff produced two excellent, balanced, objective and detailed reports on e-scooters, one in June 2020 and one in April 2021. Those reports are far more thorough on these issues than is the June 9, 2022 Mississauga staff report. Taken together, the Toronto staff reports showed that to allow e-scooters 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 relentless corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies claim. We have found no City staff report by any other Ontario municipality, including Mississauga’s, that has replicated, improved upon, or in any way refuted the objective research on this issue conducted by Toronto City staff.

E-scooters 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 regularly ridden on sidewalks.

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 strongly recommended that their respective City Councils not allow e-scooters.

There is overwhelming Ontario-based proof that e-scooters pose these twin dangers for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. It comes directly from Ottawa, one of the cities that Mississauga staff examined. The Mississauga staff report inexplicably and inexcusably does not share this detailed damning evidence with Mississauga City Council.

The February 2022 report to Ottawa City Council by Ottawa city staff showed that according to a survey that Ottawa staff conducted after two years of piloting e-scooters, there was a major problem with e-scooter riders riding on sidewalks and leaving e-scooters strewn on sidewalks, even though both activities were forbidden. The Ottawa staff report states:

“79% of all survey respondents encountered sidewalk riding, of which:
67% did not report to City, providers or police
64% felt uncomfortable and unsafe”

“83% of all survey respondents encountered mis-parked e-scooters (up from 69% in 2020), of which
77% left them where they were
Approx. 16% reported them to the City or to the e-scooter providers”

This sampling of 25 media headlines further illustrates the kind of injuries that Mississauga must expect to inflict on its residents and visitors, if it green-lights the city staff proposal as it relates to e-scooters:

1. Altercation between e-scooter riders and occupants of vehicle before fatal stabbing in downtown Ottawa, police say

2. Vernon woman spent two days in hospital after being struck by rental scooter

3. National pedestrian safety campaign backs Chorley mum’s petition for stricter e-scooter laws after daughter hit

4. Italy debates electric scooter safety after teenager dies in accident

5. E-scooters: Sister of six-year-old boy who had skull fractured by teenage rider calls for under-21 ban

6. Woman who can ‘barely dress’ herself after being hit by e-scooter lashes out

7. Paris police search for two e-scooter riders after pedestrian killed

8. Child taken to hospital following e-scooter collision

9. Moment teenager on an e-scooter almost ploughs into a lorry while riding on the WRONG side of the road

10. Three-year-old girl left with ‘life-changing’ injuries after collision with man riding e-scooter

11. Electric scooters drive accident epidemic as young man, 20, latest to die in collision

12. Teen e-scooter rider pleads guilty in incident which caused pedestrian severe brain injuries

13. Girl’s jaw and gums had to be realigned after accident with e-scooter; rider arrested

14. Canterbury woman struck by electric scooter suffers two broken limbs

15. E-scooter casualties in London soar by 570% as number of pedestrians hurt DOUBLES in a year – putting pressure on Sadiq Khan over rental trial scheme

16. 79-year-old woman in hospital after being knocked down by a scooter

17. Actress Lisa Banes dies after being hit by scooter in Manhattan

18. E-scooter drivers endanger other road users significantly more than cyclists

19. He broke his bones, now no one wants to be liable: An e-scooter accident shows dangerous legal gaps

20. E-Scooter riders have little, if any, protection in case of injury or accident

21. Bronx man dies after falling off e-scooter hitting head on ground

22. Man seriously hurt in Clifton e-scooter crash

23. Moment passengers evacuated as e-scooter ‘explodes’ at London Tube station

24. Oxford e-scooter crash involving pushchair leaves man and child injured

25. Dental injuries on the rise thanks to e-scooter use: study by U of A prof

A strong call for e-scooters not to be allowed comes from a broad spectrum of voices from Ontario’s disability community. Back 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.

3. Beware a Feeding Frenzy by E-scooter Rental Companies’ Corporate Lobbyists

We have no doubt that well-funded e-scooter corporate lobbyists have been trying to get the ear of Mississauga and its City Council. We have elsewhere seen those corporate lobbyists in action in city after city. Their claims and their promises should be viewed with a great deal of skepticism.

A 2020 AODA Alliance report on e-scooter corporate lobbyists provides a penetrating insight into their activities. It documented through a public lobbyists’ registry that Toronto City Hall was absolutely inundated by a well-funded feeding frenzy by the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies. We heard from several at Toronto City Hall that this was the biggest corporate lobbying campaign then underway. It is unfortunate that all Ontario cities don’t have a comparable registry.

It is a long-standing, time-tested and important public safety requirement that motor vehicles are only permitted when the motor vehicle and the driver are properly licensed, when the driver has undergone mandatory training, where the vehicle is subjected to thorough national safety technical standards, and where both the driver and vehicle are insured. These important safeguards are needed to protect public safety. In the case of e-scooters, all these safeguards are missing.

The e-scooter corporate lobbyists are trying to get Ontario cities to let them duck all these safeguards. Those corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank as seriously injured vulnerable pedestrians sob all the way to hospital emergency rooms. They have falsely claimed over and over that the City can approve e-scooters at no cost to the City or the public. The Mississauga staff report implicitly echoes this bogus claim.

4. Don’t Use Mississauga Residents and Visitors as Involuntary Guinea Pigs in a Dangerous Human Experiment with E-Scooters

Mississauga should not run the proposed e-scooters pilot project. That pilot would expose people in Mississauga, both residents and visitors, to serious injuries if not deaths without their consent, just to see if shared e-scooters are a good idea. Experimenting on the public, when the risks are so serious, is demonstrably immoral. The corporate lobbyists seek a “pilot” as an obvious pretext to establish a market for their product, and to get a foot in the door. People with disabilities in Ottawa have made an impassioned plea to Ottawa City Council to stop using them as guinea pigs in their e-scooter experiment.

E-scooter corporate lobbyists have argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a great time to start allowing e-scooters. This only piles hardship upon hardship for society’s most vulnerable. For the past two years, people with disabilities have already suffered serious disproportionate hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic – hardships that are now perpetuated in the “new normal” facing Ontarians.

5. A Ban on Sidewalk e-scooter Riding is No Solution

The Mississauga staff report concedes that there would need to be measures to protect vulnerable people with disabilities and others:

“Any future deployment of a micromobility service will need to address the needs of vulnerable road users and people with disabilities.”

However, that report does not suggest that any city has effectively achieved this. The report vaguely states:

“Measures to address these needs could include technology to limit sidewalk riding, parking enforcement, and education and incentive programs delivered by service providers.”

The 2021 Toronto staff report said it found no city anywhere that has figured out how to effectively achieve this. The Mississauga staff report does not identify a city that has effectively done so, nor does it mention, much less answer, the important Toronto staff report. Mississauga City Council needs and deserves better than that.

The Ottawa data recited above proves that Ottawa, to which the Mississauga staff repeatedly points, obviously has failed abjectly in this regard. That is why Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee has called for a halt to Ottawa’s pilot with e-scooters.

There is absolutely no verified proof that effective technology exists that reliably prevents e-scooters from being ridden on sidewalks or left strewn on sidewalks. The Mississauga staff report points to no e-scooter model that is on the road today and that has such features. It does not identify any objective, independent test that shows that any such technology, had it existed, has actually worked. It names no city where such technology is deployed. It recites no objective, independent verification that it effectively prevented e-scooters’ twin dangers to safety and accessibility for vulnerable people with disabilities and others.

The e-scooter corporate lobbyist sales pitch is all that city staff appears to have to support that claim. The staff report does not disclose this. Had such technology existed and been objectively proven to work, those corporate lobbyists would have presented it to us and Mississauga by now.

6. What We Propose

In an effort to be constructive and helpful, the AODA Alliance asks Mississauga City Council to take these steps at its June 15, 2022 meeting.

1. To advance the goal of micro-mobility, we have no objection to Mississauga implementing a Bike Share program using conventional bicycles. If that program is to include electric bikes (e-bikes), these should not be permitted to carry cargo. They should only operate with some amount of human powering. Mississauga should first pilot a Bike Share program. After that, the City could consider whether there is any need to expand this to include other kinds of vehicles. E-scooters may prove entirely unnecessary, given their added costs and dangers. Take one step at a time.

2. Nothing should prevent people with disabilities from using their mobility devices, including powered mobility devices, as an accommodation to their disability.

3. Mississauga City Council should reject outright the proposal to establish a shared e-scooter program. If it does not now reject this outright, it should at a minimum send the issue back to city staff to fully investigate and report on the dangers that e-scooters create for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, the impact of e-scooters in other cities, and the objectively proven effectiveness of any suggested solutions to these dangers. This investigation should also include the danger to vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others when e-scooters are ridden on the road, e.g. when a pedestrian is crossing a street and won’t know that an e-scooter is silently racing right at them.

City staff should be directed to widely consult with people with disabilities, seniors and others. This should include direct in-person or virtual consultations by senior Mississauga staff, such as the director of transportation services. It should not be left to an on-line survey. The public is inundated with online surveys. It should not be sub-delegated to lower level public servants.

4. If, despite all these dangers and strong disability-based opposition, Mississauga City Council wants to go ahead with the city staff proposal for a shared e-scooter program, the staff recommendations should be amended to add all of the following:

a) No contract for deploying e-scooters should be eligible for approval unless there is a specific vote on it by Mississauga City Council. The specific model of e-scooter must be publicly demonstrated in advance of that vote, to an independent panel from the disability community, including a representative of the AODA Alliance. The e-scooter model must be independently verified to be 100% incapable of being ridden on any sidewalk at any time, and of being misparked. There should also be a requirement that each e-scooter model will constantly emit an audible sound sufficient for vulnerable pedestrians to hear an approaching e-scooter, even when there is significant traffic, construction or other ambient noise. Pedestrians should be able to hear this sound on a busy, noisy urban street, when the e-scooter is still far enough away that the pedestrian can still dodge it in time.

b) There should be a mandatory zero-tolerance requirement for any e-scooter left strewn on a sidewalk. The e-scooter should be confiscated and disposed of, at the expense of the e-scooter rental company. The e-scooter rental company should not be allowed to replace it as part of its fleet.

c) Absolutely no enforcement authority or responsibility should be delegated to any e-scooter rental company, because they are in a clear, serious and irremediable conflict of interest. They are the worst group to be assigned with any enforcement responsibilities. City Council should categorically reject the staff recommendation that would give any enforcement role to e-scooter companies.

d) During a pilot, if there is any non-compliance reported, the pilot should be immediately suspended, pending a report to City Council with recommended program revisions to eliminate this danger.

e) City staff should be required to present to City Council for its approval a budget for substantially increased law enforcement, to ensure that e-scooters do not create new disability barriers or safety threats. No shared e-scooter program should be permitted until and unless that budget is approved by City Council.

f) Each e-scooter rider should be required to carry valid liability insurance equal in value to that required of motor vehicles.

g) Each e-scooter rental company should have automatic strict vicarious liability for any injuries or losses caused to any member of the public by an e-scooter rider. It should be left to the e-scooter companies to try at their own expense to recover from the actual e-scooter rider who caused the injury or loss.

h) Mississauga should enact very strict penalties for improper e-scooter riding, far more than $75 to $100 for a violation. No pilot should begin until and unless those stiff penalties are enacted and widely publicized.

i) Contrary to the Mississauga staff report, dockless e-scooters should be strictly forbidden. To allow them increases the danger of their being left strewn about on sidewalks as a tripping hazard.

j) It is entirely insufficient to leave it to e-scooter rental companies to pick up abandoned e-scooters within 15 minutes of being reported as misparked. This shifts an unfair burden on the public, including those tripped by e-scooters, to have to figure out how to report this to the right law enforcement. Most will not know they can or should. Ottawa’s February 2022 staff report, quoted above, confirmed that most who saw improper e-scooter use never reported it. Moreover, even if left lying on the sidewalk for 15 minutes, they remain a terrifying and intolerable tripping hazard for vulnerable people with disabilities.

7. What’s Wrong with the Mississauga Staff Report? – Lots!

Mississauga staff should deliver a balanced, objective, report on micro-mobility that effectively informs Council about all the issues at stake and the key evidence bearing on those issues. The Mississauga staff report did not do so. City Council should send this issue back to city staff, to return after it has properly researched and fully reported on the impact of its proposals on vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.

a) Report Misses Key Disability Concerns

The Mississauga staff report acknowledges some disability concerns with e-scooters. However, it too often waters them down, describes them in vague uncompelling terms, and buries them far down in its report. It almost always calls them accessibility issues, often without flagging them as safety issues as well. This subtly dilutes and downplays them, in the same way as the e-scooter corporate lobbyists do.

On the ninth page of the 10 page report, some of the disability concerns were outlined. However, it does not present the full picture. The proposed strategies to mitigate these concerns are already proven elsewhere not to work. The Mississauga staff report states:

“Accessibility Concerns

The Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) and the broader accessibility community have raised significant concerns with the potential introduction of shared micro-mobility services in Mississauga, in particular with the introduction of shared e-scooters, but many of their concerns are also related to system and governance model options.”

Our concerns relate to our safety and not just to the important issue of accessibility. Our concerns cannot be eliminated by the choice of how the program will be governed and operated.

b) City Staff Excessively Dazzled by “Micromobility”

The Mississauga staff report, like several reports from transit officials in other Ontario cities, appears to be smitten, if not dazzled, by the term “micro-mobility.” This seemingly modern innovation is embraced as “the wave of the future.” Harmful options like e-scooters are swept along with the tide, without taking seriously their dangers. The report gives lip service to some disability concerns. However, as a totality, it gives them short shrift. It in effect treats vulnerable people with disabilities and the new barriers they will face as insufficiently important to get in the way of bull-dozing into an e-scooter program.

In fact, the concept of micro-mobility is not new or innovative. Bicycles have been around for centuries. Other cities have had bike share programs for years. The Mississauga staff report offers no proof that it cannot achieve its transportation objectives through expansion of the use of bicycles, including a bike-share program.

c) City Staff Didn’t Study Harmful Impact of E-Scooters on Vulnerable People with Disabilities

The Mississauga staff report did not study or report on the harmful impact of e-scooters in other cities that have allowed them. It was not studied in the City staff review of ten selected communities. This was an inexcusable omission, even after we extensively raised our disability accessibility and safety concerns with City staff and with the Mississauga Accessibility Advisory Committee. The City staff report states:

“Ten cities were identified for an in-depth peer review: Toronto, Vancouver, Hamilton, Kelowna, Calgary, Seattle, Washington (DC), Portland, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia. These systems were selected to cover a range of vehicle types, governance models and system models currently in use in a variety of urban contexts, providing a breadth of examples to help inform the evaluation in Mississauga.

This review covered operator retention, enforcement activities, expansion approaches, level of municipal oversight required, and equitable access to services. The findings from the review helped to inform the evaluation of the vehicle type, system and governance models.”

The City staff did not alert City Council that staff had found no city that found a way to ensure that they do not create the new safety and accessibility dangers that have been proven to exist when e-scooters are allowed. They should have alerted City Council to this.

The Mississauga staff report never explains why Mississauga should undertake a shared e-scooter pilot without first studying the impact of e-scooters on safety and accessibility for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others in the cities that have allowed e-scooters. It makes no sense to gratuitously and recklessly expose Mississauga residents and visitors to the dangers of e-scooters, and to inflict the costs on the taxpayer, without first taking the obvious, simple, and far less costly step of studying this impact in cities which have already exposed their residents and visitors to e-scooters.

d) Safety and Accessibility Not Even Identified as Program Goals

The report does not even identify the important goal of ensuring public safety and disability accessibility as an objective for conducting a pilot in this area. This is entirely missing when the Staff report stated:

“Pilots are an effective tool commonly used by peer cities for introducing shared micro-mobility programs to gauge the level of interest and uptake, gather data, test deployments, and determine the extent to which shared micro-mobility can contribute to transportation and city-building goals.”

e) Report Inaccurately Claims that this Proposal Has No Financial Implications for the City of Mississauga

The Mississauga staff report is fatally inaccurate where it says that there are no financial implications if Mississauga adopts this proposal. The staff report states:

“There are no financial impacts resulting from the adoption of the recommendations in this report.”

The Toronto city staff’s June 2020 report amply demonstrated that to allow e-scooters will inflict new costs and financial burdens on the taxpayer. The AODA Alliance proposes that these burdens should not be inflicted on the public, especially after our society has suffered the crushing financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis. If more public money were now to be spent, it should not be on the costs that Mississauga would have to shoulder due to the introduction of e-scooters.

The commendable June 2020 Toronto staff report (which the Mississauga staff report does not mention or refute) stated:

“There is a significant risk that the City may be held partially or fully liable for damages if e-scooter riders or other parties are injured. Transportation Services staff consulted with the City’s Insurance and Risk Management office (I&RM) to understand the magnitude of the City’s liability if allowing e-scooters. At this time, loss data is lacking on e-scooters due to generally lengthy settlement times for bodily injury claims. The City has significant liability exposure, however, due to joint and several liability, as the City may have to pay an entire judgement or claim even if only found to be 1 percent at fault for an incident. The City has a $5M deductible per occurrence, which means the City will be responsible for all costs below that amount. In terms of costs, Transportation Services staff will also be required to investigate and serve in the discovery process for claims.”

“If Council were to permit e-scooters to be operated on City streets – without the commensurate resources to provide oversight, education, outreach and enforcement, there would be considerable risks to public safety for e-scooter riders and other vulnerable road users; additional burdens on hospitals and paramedics; impacts on accessibility, community nuisance and complaints; impacts on current initiatives to enhance the public realm for COVID-19 recovery efforts, such as CurbTO and CaféTO; and liability and costs to the City. For the reasons above, staff recommend that personal use of e-scooters not be considered until 2021.”

“FINANCIAL IMPACT:

Funding and resources required in various programs for the following will be included as part of future budget submissions for consideration during the budget process to address the financial and additional staff resources required to: manage implementation, operational, and enforcement issues of e-scooters in Toronto; and the resolution of e-scooter issues, including, but not limited to, injury/fatality and collision investigations and data collection and tracking (e.g., in consultation with health agencies and/or academic partners, Toronto Police Services, and others), further standards development for e-scooter device design, and consultations on proposed by-law changes with accessibility and other stakeholders.”

The June 2020 Toronto staff report showed that e-scooter rental companies take active steps to dodge any liability for the damage that their e-scooters cause. It also showed that the insurance industry does not have the insurance products needed in this area. City staff explored the possibility of injury claims being covered by The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund. That fund is financed by the taxpayer. That option would again let e-scooter rental companies reap the profits while the taxpayer covers the consequent costs. The June 2020 Toronto staff report stated:

“E-scooter sharing/rental companies typically require a rider to sign a waiver, placing the onus of compensating injured parties on the rider. Riders are left financially exposed due to a lack of insurance coverage and if unable to pay, municipalities will be looked to for compensation (e.g., in settlements and courts). Claims related to e-scooter malfunction have been reported by the media (such as in Atlanta, Auckland, New Zealand and Brisbane, Australia). In 2019, a Grand Jury faulted the City of San Diego for inadequate regulation and enforcement of e-scooter sharing companies. By opting in to the Pilot, the City will be exposed to claims associated with improperly parked e-scooters as evidenced by lawsuits filed by persons with disabilities and those injured by e-scooter obstructions (such as in Minneapolis and Santa Monica, California).

The insurance industry does not currently have insurance products available for e-scooter riders. In Fall 2019, City staff explored whether the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund could be expanded or if a similar kind of fund in principle could be created to address claims where e-scooter riders or non-users are injured and their expenses are not covered by OHIP, nor by other insurance policies (e.g., homeowner’s or personal auto). Further research and consultation would be needed to look into these considerations.

It will be critical to ensure that insurance evidenced by e-scooter sharing companies will cover their operations for all jurisdictions operated in (e.g., all cities nationally or internationally). Further, there needs to be full indemnification for the municipality by e-scooter sharing companies, and not limitations in their indemnification contracts.”

The Mississauga staff report includes extensive financial number crunching on some topics. However, there is a stunning lack of costing regarding enforcement. The staff report’s appendix does not take into account the cost of effectively enforcing bans on sidewalk riding and abandoning e-scooters on the sidewalks. No city has gotten that right. It also does not take into account the cost of injuries suffered by innocent pedestrians and e-scooter riders, which the taxpayer must bear.

The staff report’s appendix (but not the report itself) acknowledges the reality that there will be enforcement costs. However, it does not quantify them or talk about what enforcement is needed to ensure public safety, accessibility and compliance. The staff report’s appendix vaguely states:

“There is a risk that privately owned and operated services will require high levels of enforcement to maintain order on public rights of way, particularly if there are multiple operators. To properly enforce local regulations (or terms in a sole-source agreement), the City will need to invest resources in oversight and enforcement. The additional enforcement responsibilities could be funded through a portion of the permit application fee, as well as from fines collected for each enforcement action (fees would be determined by the licensing department on a cost recovery basis).”

The Mississauga staff report proposes that Mississauga might seek additional funding for its proposal from other sources. The AODA Alliance will actively oppose any such external funding, and will urge others to join in our effort. We will urge government and private sources not to help finance the creation of dangerous new disability barriers in Mississauga.

f) Wrong to Claim Strong Public Support for E-Scooters

Again parroting the e-scooter corporate lobbyists, the report repeatedly claims that there is strong public support for e-scooters. The surveys and public forum to which it refers received responses from a tiny percentage of the municipal public. We have seen no proof that those respondents were aware of the serious dangers that e-scooters create for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others.

g) Bogus Claim Geo-Fencing is Effective Solution

The report’s appendix appears to suggest that geo-fencing can constrain misparked scooters. There is no evidence that this is true. GPS technology is not that pinpoint. E-scooter corporate lobbyist have made this bogus claim more than once.

h) Disability Safety Concerns Omitted From Staff Criteria for Evaluating Different Kinds of Vehicles

Further proof that City staff failed to fully consider disability concerns is shown by the report’s delineation of staff’s criteria to evaluate different micro-mobility devices, namely bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters. The staff report stated:

“Accessibility – Potential impacts on vulnerable road users – Is this vehicle type associated with impacts on vulnerable users of the right-of-way, specifically related to sidewalk riding?”

It was correct to consider the sidewalk riding issue, from a disability perspective. Nonetheless, there are three other important considerations that the staff never evaluated. First, the silent menace of e-scooters creates a danger to pedestrians when ridden anywhere that a pedestrian may walk, such as a path in a park, on a street where there is no sidewalk, or when crossing a street. Second, as noted earlier, mis-parked e-scooters present a dangerous tripping and mobility barrier for people with disabilities when left strewn on sidewalks. Third, as noted earlier, there is no demonstrated effective means for enforcing restrictions on e-scooters use.

i) City Staff’s Hybrid Model for E-Scooter Problem Especially Harmful for Vulnerable People with Disabilities and Others

The Mississauga staff report recommends a hybrid model for deploying e-scooters, while conceding that this “may have enforcement problems regarding misparked e-scooters”. In fact, from the experience elsewhere such as Ottawa, Mississauga can be certain that it would create this very danger. The report states:

“For the hybrid system model, some challenges relating to improper parking may persist, leading to increased enforcement requirements compared to a dock-based system.”

The report thereby proposes that some e-scooters be allowed which are dockless, i.e. that do not have to be docked at a designated fixed dock. It does so even though the report explicitly acknowledges that this creates more problems. This will make it easier for riders to leave their e-scooters strewn about as a tripping hazard on sidewalks.

The Mississauga staff report suggests that there are ways to mitigate problems generally with the Privately Owned and Privately Operated governance model. It does not identify this hopeless conflict of interest as a problem, much less as one that needs to be “mitigated”. In fact, any conflict of interest must be eliminated, not simply reduced. Mississauga City Council should not green-light this at this stage, in a vain hope that staff will figure out how to solve problems that they have themselves failed to even identify after months of study.

j) Failure to Include Mississauga’s Mandatory Duty Not to Create New Disability Barriers In Program Goals

The Mississauga staff report lists major municipal policy aims that the report’s recommendations serve. Among them, it does not identify the City’s legal duty not to create new safety and accessibility barriers for people with disabilities and the requirement that Mississauga bring itself to a state of being accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. This is a requirement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, implementing the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is not optional. It is essential that this be included in the program goals or aims and mandatory governing criteria or requirements.

k) No Details on Vital Issue of Enforcement

Even though enforcement is an obvious, important and central issue, the Mississauga staff report says nothing about how e-scooter compliance would be enforced, or by whom or at what cost to the taxpayer. Before any further steps are taken to approve a pilot, city staff should be expected to report in detail on this.

The report’s appendix is far too lenient on the issue of details to be required of e-scooter rental companies. It explicitly speaks about privatizing key parts of the e-scooter enforcement function with the for-profit e-scooter rental companies who are in a serious conflict of interest. It does not set requirements that are remotely sufficient to prevent the proven dangers of e-scooters for people with disabilities, seniors and others. The report’s appendix states:

“Enforcement Roles and Responsibilities: It is vital for the permit or contract to outline the roles and responsibilities of the operator and of the City in relation to enforcement. Many peer cities allocated much of the enforcement to the operator through the agreements. For example, in Ottawa, operators must have a reporting hotline by phone, email and through the app where users and members of the public can report improperly parked vehicles. The operator must respond to the mis-parked vehicle within one hour. Every vehicle has a printed number on it to identify the vehicle and the company’s contact information.

Sidewalk Riding Detection and Disincentives: Permitted operators for motorized micromobility vehicles can be required to have sidewalk riding detection on the vehicles, and issue automated warnings or fines to riders when a significant amount of a trip is spent on a sidewalk. This is done in Kelowna. Data sharing requirements can also be stipulated, including the locations where sidewalk riding is taking place.”

l) First Mile, Last Mile Benefit is an Unproven Smokescreen

The report’s appendix parrots the e-scooter corporate lobbyists’ marketing by claiming without evidence:

“Micromobility is an ideal first and last mile solution for longer distance transit trips, particularly those that use higher order transit like the Mississauga Transitway and GO Rail.”

The only way this “first mile, last mile” model has any hope of working is if Mississauga is inundated with a pile of e-scooters everywhere. That of course, is something the e-scooter corporate lobbyists would love. However, it will be a blight for the people of Mississauga.

m) Staff Misses the Point on Equity and Accessibility

It is a painful irony and a slap in the face to people with disabilities that at several points, the report speaks of accessibility and equity, but not as disability-related concerns at all. Instead, these terms are often used in this report to talk about how easy Mississauga residents will be able to conveniently find an e-scooter to ride. This serves the e-scooter corporate lobbyists hunt for profits, since they make more money if Mississauga deploys more of their product.

n) Not Enough to Promise People with Disabilities More Consultations

It is entirely insufficient that the report states that city staff will continue to meet with disability community representatives on “preventing or mitigating” the creation of new barriers. The report states:

“Given the scope and scale of the concerns raised by the accessibility community, staff intend to continue to meet regularly with the Accessibility Advisory Committee and external accessibility advocacy organizations, to proactively seek input from experts and community members to help design and evaluate a shared micro-mobility pilot program, should one be established in Mississauga. An emphasis on ensuring accessibility in any future system and preventing or mitigating the introduction of any barriers into the built environment, will be a major strategic pillar for shared micro-mobility systems in Mississauga.”

As noted earlier, Mississauga has a legal duty to create no new barriers. It is insufficient to create and then later try to “mitigate” new barriers. Moreover, consultation with city staff to date has proven frustrating, since the Mississauga staff report only gives disability concerns marginalized lip service. Indeed, the report reads very much like staff want to barrel ahead at full speed with e-scooters, but was anticipating a negative response from the disability community, requiring some token mention in the report.

8. Concluding considerations

The 110 page Mississauga staff report was only made public last Thursday. We only obtained an accessible version of it to start reading on Friday, just five days before the June 15, 2022 meeting of the Mississauga General Committee. City staff refused our request to release this report earlier. They have been working on this for months, if not years. It could have been made available earlier.

It is palpably unfair for the disability community to be called on to respond to this report on such short notice. We are a volunteer coalition. We don’t have the massive resources of the e-scooter corporate lobbyists, whose views and desires are amply reflected in this report, and who no doubt will cheer it on. Especially in a municipal election year, we hope that elected City Council members would not wish to condone or tolerate such conduct. The disability community and the wider public deserve a far fairer chance to be heard, especially when city staff have so severely marginalized the accessibility and safety dangers for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others.

 

Please Sign Up to Tell Mississauga on June 15 and London on June 21 Not to Allow Electric Scooters Because They Endanger Safety and Accessibility for People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Please Sign Up to Tell Mississauga on June 15 and London on June 21 Not to Allow Electric Scooters Because They Endanger Safety and Accessibility for People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others

 

June 8, 2022

 

SUMMARY

 

It is time to jump into grassroots action again! It is inexcusable that Ontarians with disabilities must continue to battle to protect themselves from the dangers that electric scooters create for their safety and accessibility. Please help us prevent these dangers by signing up to speak at virtual hearings in Mississauga on June 15 and in London Ontario on June 21, 2022. Here in short is the information you need:

 

You do not have to attend either of these meetings in person. To sign up to speak from your computer or cell phone to the City of Mississauga General Committee on the morning of June 15, 2022, send a request to Dayna.obaseki@mississauga.ca

 

  • Below we set out a form that Mississauga would like you to fill out and submit.
  • The London Civic Works Committee will meet on June 21 at 12 noon. To apply to speak to the City of London Civic Works Committee, send an email to cwc@london.ca

 

The request to speak to them should be in no later than 9 AM, Monday, June 20. You can also send a written submission to them at the same email address and before Monday, June 20.

 

You can apply to speak at either or both of these meetings. We need you at both, if you can. You don’t need to live in either city. You are encouraged to speak if you have experience to share, or if you might wish to visit one or both of those cities and don’t want to be seriously injured by a joy-rider racing silently at you on an e-scooter. For example, people living in Ottawa have already faced two years of this danger. They should warn London and Mississauga to avoid Ottawa’s disregard of the safety and accessibility needs of people with disabilities, seniors and others.

 

We have no assurance that either city will use an accessible platform for its virtual meeting. For any city to use a platform with accessibility barriers flies in the face of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Despite this, we have taken part in several municipal committee meetings that used virtual meeting platforms that have known accessibility barriers.

 

The city staffs of London and Mississauga will each present their own report and recommendations to their City Council. However, even this close to these meeting dates, neither Mississauga nor London city staff have made public their reports and recommendations. We will make them public for you as soon as we get our hands on them. It is unfair to make people with disabilities and others have to rush at the last minute to address such an important topic.

 

We are certain that the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter companies will be at these meetings. Please ensure you are there too. If you are part of a disability community organization, get your organization to make a presentation. Speaking to these committees is far more effective than sending in written submissions that the City Council members may never read.

 

It is significant that the City of Ottawa has delayed its third year of e-scooters until at least July, according to media reports. Below we set out the June 7, 2022 CBC News report on this delay, which refers to disability concerns with e-scooters.

 

It is also significant that Ottawa City staff are not consulting the disability community before deciding whether any of the e-scooter rental companies meet their safety and accessibility needs. Indeed, the City staff have taken it upon themselves to decide unilaterally what specific safeguards are sufficient. This is deeply troubling, given the City staff disregard of the strong recommendation of Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee that no e-scooters be allowed at all. It is not sufficient for Ottawa City staff to simply consult Ottawa City Accessibility Officials. Below we set out the April 21, 2022 email from Ottawa City staff on this issue to the Ottawa chapter of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians. AEBC had sent very specific inquiries to Ottawa City staff. The Ottawa City staff response was far too vague and troubling.

 

To learn more about this e-scooters issue, including the dangers they present for people with disabilities and the efforts that people with disabilities have made to protect ourselves from these dangers, visit the AODA Alliance website’s E-scooters page.

 

MORE DETAILS

 

City of Mississauga Form to Send in if You Want to Speak to the Virtual Meeting of the Mississauga General Committee

Deputation (Request to Speak)

at Mississauga Council or Committees of Council

City of Mississauga, Legislative Services

 

Personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the Council Procedure Bylaw 139-13 and the Agendas Policy 02-01-04. The personal information will be used for processing your request to speak at the Council or Committees of Council. Your personal

information may become available when the meeting is televised or streamed online. It may also become part of the public record which is available at the meeting, the Office of the City Clerk, and/or on the City website. Questions about this collection should be directed to the Access and Privacy Officer, Office of the City Clerk, 300 City Centre Drive, Mississauga, ON L5B 3C1, Telephone 905-613-3200 ext. 5952.

 

Use this service if you wish to address Mississauga City Council or Committees of Council and make your views known on a particular issue. If your request relates to a matter scheduled for the Planning and Development Committee, please email: Angie.Melo@mississauga.ca

Meeting Information

Meeting Type: Accessibility Advisory Committee

Meeting Date Requested (yyyy-mm-dd):

Speaker Information

Name of Speaker(s): Enter Name of Speaker

Position/Title: Enter the Speaker’s Position/Title

Organization/Person Represented: Enter organization/person represented.

Street Address of Contact: Enter street address.

Phone Number: Enter phone number.

Email Address: Enter email address.

City: Enter city.

Province: Enter province.

Postal Code: Enter postal code.

Meeting Topic

Subject Matter to be Discussed

Enter title and a summary of subject matter to be discussed.

I am submitting a formal presentation to accompany the deputation.

Please note:

  • Your request must be made eight (8) business days prior to the meeting at which you are requesting to speak.
  • The final determination of Committees of Council will be made by the Office of the City You will receive an email confirming the committee meeting date and additional details within five (5) business days of your request.

Presentations will be limited to a maximum of two (2) people.

  • Presentations will be limited to a maximum of five (5) minutes at Council, and ten (10) minutes at Committees of Council.

Council, General Committee, Planning and Development Committee, Budget Committee, and Governance Committee Meetings are streamed, available online and recorded minutes are produced. Council Meetings are televised.

 

CBC News Ottawa June 7, 2022

 

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/scooters-ottawa-summer-2022-delayed-1.6477597

 

E-scooter program delayed in Ottawa, possibly until July

 

City waiting for companies to prove they can prevent riding and parking on sidewalks

Michelle Allan

 

The City of Ottawa imposed stricter regulations on e-scooter companies in 2022 to cut down on sidewalk riding and improper parking. That’s at least part of the reason for a delayed start to this year’s launch of the program.

The pilot project, which was extended for its third year by city council in March, had seen the e-scooters booted up on city streets around late May in 2021 and mid-July in 2020.

This year, however, work continues to sort through new rules.

 

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said any company planning to launch in Ottawa has to use technology that can “significantly reduce, if not eliminate, sidewalk riding.”

 

Leiper, who voted against the pilot project, said the city will select two companies to continue the pilot if they can prove their software is adequate,

but he remains concerned about safety.

“I am cynical that the technology will work as advertised,” he said.

Leiper said he believes the scooters will return by early July, but noted the city will see fewer of them compared to last summer.

 

Fewer companies, fewer scooters

Last year, Bird, Lime and Neuron operated e-scooters as part of the city’s pilot, but it’s not clear which of those two will return this summer. None of the three companies offered any clarity when contacted by CBC.

 

Accessibility advocates also remain skeptical about software upgrades protecting pedestrians.

 

The president of the Ottawa-Gatineau chapter of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, who is also blind, said he worries people with disabilities will be “used as guinea pigs” as companies test out new technology.

 

Wayne Antle also said concerns about sidewalk riding and parking have been ignored and advocates weren’t allowed to provide feedback during the testing phase of the program.

“I don’t trust this process,” said Antle. “When you go to three pilots of something that puts vulnerable pedestrians in danger, you know, I think that that’s a problem.”

 

Wayne Antle, who leads the Ottawa-Gatineau chapter of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, says he’s worried the updated scooter software won’t solve issues like sidewalk riding. (Submitted by Wayne Antle)

 

The City of Ottawa’s program manager of neighbourhood calming, Heidi Cousineau, said the accessibility advisory committee was consulted and “significant time was involved” to make improvements for the 2022 season.

 

Phillip Turcotte, chair of the city’s accessibility advisory committee, says they were disappointed the city didn’t take stronger action to protect pedestrians.

“We felt that the only way to really prevent people from leaving e-scooters where they shouldn’t be is by creating designated spaces for e-scooters.” Turcotte said. “That’s something that we were asking the city to do because it was completely within their power as a regulator.”

 

Cousineau said the city is currently selecting companies for the summer and it will have an update in the coming days.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Allan

Reporter

Michelle is a reporter with CBC Ottawa who has previously written for the Globe and Mail. You can reach her at michelle.allan@cbc.ca.

 

^Text of Email from City of Ottawa Staff to the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians Ottawa Chapter

 

From: “Cousineau, Heidi” <Heidi.Cousineau@ottawa.ca>

Subject: RE: E-scooter Next Steps

Date: April 21, 2022 at 10:04:17 AM EDT

To: Wayne Antle

Cc: “Richards, Megan” <megan.richards@ottawa.ca>, “Forestell, Kathleen” <kathleen.forestell@ottawa.ca>, “Heiss, Kevin” <Kevin.Heiss@ottawa.ca>, Escooter / Trottinetteselectriques <escooter@ottawa.ca>

 

Wayne,

Thank you once again for your patience regarding a fulsome response to your submitted questions about the status of the e-scooter pilot and RFP process. Please find below a response to each of your questions.

 

Please be advised the Jessica Lloy is now on maternity leave. Kevin Heiss (copied here) will be the new lead coordinator this season.

 

We look forward to engaging with you further as the next steps progress.

 

Best regards,

 

Heidi Cousineau P.Eng.

Program Manager | Gestionnaire de programme

Neighbourhood Traffic Calming | Modération de la circulation dans les quartiers

Transportation Planning | Planification des transports

Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department | Direction générale de la planification, des biens immobliers et du développement économique

 

City of Ottawa | Ville d’Ottawa

(613) 580-2424 ext.| poste 33355

heidi.cousineau@ottawa.ca

 

 

  1. What is the timeline for the RFP process to select the successful companies?

 

The RFP has now been posted. The entire process will take about 2 months. The first step of the evaluation process, the evaluation of their written proposals, is to narrow down the proponents to a qualified list. The second step will include a demo/viability test of required components to validate aspects of the written submissions. The final selection of preferred proponents is currently expected to be completed by the end of May. There are a few internal City steps for selected providers to complete before they would be allowed to operate, which is currently targeting June.

 

  1. Do the successful providers have to provide only e-scooters that have the technology to prevent sidewalk riding and mis-parking?

 

Yes. It is stated in the RFP that all e-scooters in their fleet must meet the mandatory requirements.

 

  1. Will the technology used to detect mis-parked e-scooters allow the providers to continually bill the client until the e-scooter is properly parked, or cancel the riders account?

 

The selected providers must implement mechanisms that prohibit users from ending the ride unless it is parked in a permitted area. They must also be able to identify riders who have mis-parked and be able remove riders from their app for repeated instances. As part of their proposal, the potential providers must describe and will be evaluated on how their technologies and other strategies will address compliance issues, including any incentives and/or penalties (such as fines or extended billing).

 

  1. Will the City require that the technology to prevent sidewalk riding and mis-parking be independently verified to be effective under varying real-life conditions?

 

Yes. As part of the RFP process, following the evaluation of the proposals against the rated requirements, there will be a Demonstration/Viability Testing phase. City staff will test the proponents e-scooters and app to ensure compliance with the specifications in the RFP and the proponent’s submission. This test will occur in person, in Ottawa, under real-world conditions.

 

  1. How will staff determine that the technology promoted by the e-scooter companies will be effective in eliminating the risks posed by sidewalk riding and mis-parking?

 

The proposed technologies must be demonstrated and will be tested by City staff as part of the provider selection process. Additional assessments will be undertaken throughout the season. The City will also be collecting data through observations and traffic cameras at strategic locations. Benchmark measures to evaluate Contractor performance throughout the 2022 season will assess progress during the pilot period and could impose penalties or terminate a contract with an e-scooter provider. Some of the benchmarks include criteria such as: response times to address complaints, number of relocations of mis-parked e-scooters undertaken by By-law staff and number of e-scooter impoundments undertaken by By-law staff.

 

  1. Since no consensus was reached last year to identify a sound that could be easily heard above the noise of busy streets, what type of sound will the e-scooters emit, and at what volume level, to alert pedestrians of oncoming e-scooters?

 

The RFP requires that each e-scooter must have a continuous noise emission and that the noise profile must be capable of being modified throughout the season. Based on feedback and observations from last year, the City has mandated that the sound must have two distinct components. The first component, known as the “baseline sound” shall have a lower frequency/pitch that creates a distinctive, undulating or grumbling sound (like a motor sound). The second component, known as the “alert sound” shall have a higher frequency to create a repeating bell, chirp, or similar sound. A series of minimum criteria for each component is defined in the RFP regarding the volume, frequency/pitch and repeat rate. The selected providers will be required to make adjustments prior to the season launch to ensure that sounds from each company are as similar as possible to each other. The initial sound profile may also be adjusted at the start of and throughout the season, as required to address stakeholder and community concerns.

 

  1. If the technology is not shown to be effective during the RFP process, is it possible that no company will be able to operate e-scooters in Ottawa?

 

The pilot will not proceed if there are no companies that adequately meet the requirements of the RFP.

 

  1. Will there be an opportunity for vulnerable pedestrians to see how the technology would work to eliminate the risks, before the successful companies are selected?

 

The formal evaluation process will not include consultation from the accessibility community, however staff from the City’s Accessibility Office will be part of the evaluation committee. The Terms of Reference also indicates that the selected providers shall participate in consultations with the accessibility community throughout the season as requested.

 

—–Original Message—–

From: Wayne Antle

 

Sent: April 04, 2022 9:58 AM

To: Cousineau, Heidi <Heidi.Cousineau@ottawa.ca>

Cc: Richards, Megan <megan.richards@ottawa.ca>; Forestell, Kathleen <kathleen.forestell@ottawa.ca>

Subject: E-scooter Next Steps

 

 

Hi Heidi

We were very disappointed that the staff report recommending another pilot was accepted by the Transportation Committee and City Council despite the recommendation of the Accessibility Advisory Committee. It seems that the Councillors have given a lot of weight to the e-scooter companies assertion that they have the technology to prevent sidewalk riding and mis-parked vehicles.

We have a few questions concerning the process going forward:

 

  1. What is the timeline for the RFP process to select the successful companies?
  2. Do the successful providers have to provide only e-scooters that have the technology to prevent sidewalk riding and mis-parking?
  3. Will the technology used to detect mis-parked e-scooters allow the providers to continually bill the client until the e-scooter is properly parked, or cancel the riders account?
  4. Will the City require that the technology to prevent sidewalk riding and mis-parking be independently verified to be effective under varying real-life conditions?
  5. How will staff determine that the technology promoted by the e-scooter companies will be effective in eliminating the risks posed by sidewalk riding and mis-parking?
  6. Since no consensus was reached last year to identify a sound that could be easily heard above the noise of busy streets, what type of sound will the e-scooters emit, and at what volume level, to alert pedestrians of oncoming e-scooters?
  7. If the technology is not shown to be effective during the RFP process, is it possible that no company will be able to operate e-scooters in Ottawa?
  8. Will there be an opportunity for vulnerable pedestrians to see how the technology would work to eliminate the risks, before the successful companies are selected?

 

We look forward to your reply. Thanks

 

Wayne Antle

President, Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter

Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC)

Phone: (613) 697-6531

Sign Up to Attend May 10 2022 Virtual Town Hall on the Dangers Posed by E-Scooters in Mississauga

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

 

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/

 

Sign Up to Attend May 10 2022 Virtual Town Hall on the Dangers Posed by E-Scooters in Mississauga

 

 

May 5, 2022

SUMMARY

 

CNIB is hosting a virtual town hall on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 to hear about the dangers to people with disabilities, seniors and others that are threatened if the City of Mississauga allows electric scooters. Yes, Mississauga is the latest Ontario city that the e-scooter corporate lobbyists have been flocking to.

 

Below we set out the CNIB event’s announcement. Whether you live in Mississauga, or might visit Mississauga, or have experience with e-scooters to share with Mississauga, please sign up for this event. Thanks to CNIB for organizing this event.

 

For background on the AODA Alliance’s battle over the past two and a half years to protect people with disabilities, seniors and others from the dangers that e-scooters pose, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

MORE DETAILS

 

CNIB Announcement of Its May 10, 2022 Virtual Town Hall on the Dangers Caused by Electric Scooters

 

In the City of Mississauga there is currently growing talks about the legalization of e-scooters, and we want to hear your thoughts.

Have you had encounters, good or bad, with e-scooters in your neighbourhood? Have you run into e-scooters in your travels through Mississauga? Increased talks are happening concerning e-scooters in the city of Mississauga, and we want to hear from the sight-loss community. You are invited to share your e-scooter experiences with us at a virtual Townhall meeting on May 10. We will be inviting City officials from Mississauga to hear your important feedback pertaining to this topic. We request that only citizens from Mississauga attend to provide feedback.

Date: Tuesday, May 10

Time: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Location: Online or via telephone using Zoom.

Registration is required. To register, contact Ben Akuoko @bernard.akuoko@cnib.ca

Help Ensure a Strong Voice for People with Disabilities at the Local Level — Action Tips for Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees and School Boards’ Special Education Advisory Committees

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Help Ensure a Strong Voice for People with Disabilities at the Local Level — Action Tips for Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees and School Boards’ Special Education Advisory Committees

 

April 26, 2022

SUMMARY

 

People with disabilities need to use every available avenue to advocate for accessibility and inclusion in society. That is why we are increasingly concerned about unfair barriers that can obstruct people with disabilities when they try to raise their issues before advisory committees that are supposed to be strong voices for disability issues.

 

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires every Ontario municipality with at least 10,000 residents to appoint an Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) to give advice on disability accessibility issues to the municipality. As well, regulations under Ontario’s Education Act require every school board to appoint a Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) to advise the school board on the needs of students with special education needs.

 

We need these advisory committees to a be a strong voice on disability issues. AACs and SEACs only give advice. Cities and school boards do not have to follow that advice or give reasons for refusing to do so.

 

We are troubled by barriers that can impede the work of AACs or SEACs. Some of these barriers come from staff of some cities or school boards. We have no way of knowing how often these issues arise. However, we have received enough feedback about them that we feel it necessary to address it.

 

We want members of AACs and SEACs to know about these barriers, and how to fight back against them. This Update gives members of AACs and SEACs practical tips on how to give as strong a voice as possible to disability issues. We identify seven areas of concern and then provide a fuller explanation for each point below. In summary, here is what all members of AACs and SEACs should know:

 

  1. AACs and SEACs should set their own meeting agendas! Don’t let city staff or school board staff set their advisory committee’s agenda or tell them what topics are “in order.”

 

  1. Members of AACs and SEACs must remain free to also be disability advocates in private and public.

 

  1. Inaccessible virtual meeting platforms and application forms are not allowed.

 

  1. Public deputations to an advisory committee should not be artificially limited to five minutes.

 

  1. Municipal and school board bylaws cannot hog-tie the work of an AAC or SEAC.

 

  1. Members of the public are free to talk to or exchange emails with advisory committee members about accessibility issues, including those on the advisory committee’s agenda.

 

  1. AACs and SEACs have an absolute right to have their recommendations and advice shared directly with all the city council or school board trustees whom they are appointed to advise, and not just to a sub-committee.

 

Please share this Update with members of the AAC and SEAC in your community. Urge your member of city council and school board trustee to read this and to send it to all members of their AAC or SEAC.

 

We point out areas of concern. We know that there are municipal staff and school board officials who want to achieve accessibility for people with disabilities and who don’t want to create barriers to the work of AACs or SEACs. Send them this update, so it can equip them to do the right thing and to help root out these bureaucratic barriers.

 

Later this year Ontario holds elections for city council and school board trustees. Let’s be sure candidates know about these problems.

 

We need the Ontario Government to help root out these recurring barriers. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs should hold a virtual conference for AAC members, as it did years ago. The Ministry of Education should do the same for SEAC members. Using Zoom, this can be done at very low cost. We would be happy to help. Among other things, those conferences can address these barriers.

 

Send us feedback. Let us know about experiences you have witnessed in this area. Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

 

MORE DETAILS

 

 1. AACs and SEACs Should Set Their Own Meeting Agendas! Don’t Let City Staff or School Board Staff Set Their Advisory Committee’s Agenda or Tell Them What Topics are “In Order”

 

It is essential for each AAC and each SEAC to set its own agendas for its own meetings. City or school board staff should not set or in any way control their agendas.

 

In parts of Ontario, school board staff set the agenda for SEAC meetings, and city staff set AAC meeting agendas. Where city or school board staff do this, they control what issues the SEAC or AAC can talk about. To take away control of these meeting agendas from people with disabilities is to let the bureaucratic tail wrongly wag the dog. It can lead an Advisory Committee to devote scarce meeting time to issues that are less important from the disability perspective, while precluding consideration of issues that members of the disability community consider more important. It can tie up an advisory committee with unimportant busy work while serious new disability barriers fester.

 

Nothing in the AODA or the Education Act’s SEAC regulations lets city or school board staff control meeting agendas. For city staff to block or impede an AAC from formulating and giving advice on an accessibility issue that the AAC or any of its members wish to pursue flies in the face of the AODA’s provisions establishing the mandate of Accessibility Advisory Committees.

 

Similarly, city or school board staff have no authority to dictate to an AAC or SEAC what advice they can give or what motions they can pass. Once an AAC or SEAC has passed a motion setting out the advisory committee’s advice or recommendations, city or school board staff must pass it along to the city council or the board of trustees, as the case may be. Staff cannot prevent an AAC or SEAC motion from being communicated directly to the city council members or school board trustees to whom the advisory committee is giving advice.

 

We received information about one AAC that passed a motion opposing the use of electric scooters as endangering people with disabilities and others. We were told that city staff refused to pass this on to their city council because the city council had already voted to conduct an e-scooter pilot. We cannot investigate what happened in that instance but can emphasize that city staff cannot rule out of order a motion that an AAC has passed.

 

In another incident, during a Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky attended, something similar occurred. The Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee was discussing whether to make any recommendations on whether Brampton should conduct an e-scooter pilot project. A Brampton City staff official told the AAC that Brampton’s City Council had already approved an e-scooter pilot, wrongly conveying the signal that it was already a “done deal” that could not be addressed by the AAC. Acting on this, Brampton’s AAC did not discuss whether to pass any recommendations as to whether Brampton should conduct a pilot with e-scooters.

 

City staff have no authority to impede an Accessibility Advisory Committee from giving whatever advice the AAC wishes on an accessibility issue. Even if a city council has approved an e-scooter pilot project, it is open to an AAC to pass recommendations at any time it wishes on the topic. Making this worse, the Brampton City staff report that preceded the Brampton City Council vote that authorized an e-scooter pilot did not tell city councillors that e-scooters have endangered people with disabilities and others where they are allowed. It is wrong for City staff to withhold such important information from a city council and later to lead an Accessibility Advisory Committee to wrongly believe that it is too late for the AAC to make any recommendations on whether to conduct an e-scooter pilot.

 

It is not for city staff or other public officials to dictate to an AAC or SEAC what topics or motions are “in order.” If city staff or other public officials offer their views on which topics are “in order” it is open to the advisory committee to thank them for their advice but choose not to be governed by it.

 

 2. Members of AACs and SEACs Must Remain Free to Also Be Disability Advocates in Private and Public

 

We have heard from members of more than one Accessibility Advisory Committee that city staff led them to understand that while serving on a municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee they may not also be “advocates.” Some were led to think that this means they are somehow restricted from talking to the media or otherwise engaging in public advocacy on disability issues, including on municipal accessibility issues. While we cannot investigate and verify these incidents, the fact that we have heard this from more than one AAC is a concern.

 

It is our position that any member of a municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee or a Special Education Advisory Committee is completely free to speak publicly on disability accessibility issues including issues that have come or may come before their advisory committee, including talking to the media if they wish. They can do so in private or in public, during formal advisory committee meetings or on their own time.

 

Canada is a democracy. Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the freedom of opinion and expression. It provides:

 

“2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:…

 

(b) freedom of thought belief opinion and expression including freedom of the press and other media of communication;”

 

If any city staff have told AAC members this in the past, they should immediately stop doing so. No city staff or other public official can stop a member of an AAC or SEAC from publicly saying whatever they wish, on the grounds that they are barred from doing so due to being a member of that advisory committee. The Charter of Rights is part of the supreme law of Canada. Public servants, including city and school board staff, must obey it.

 

We also debunk any suggestion that there is somehow a difference here between being an “advisor” on the one hand and being an “advocate” on the other. Were any public official to claim that a member of a publicly appointed advisory committee must thereby not be an “advocate”, this attempts to silence them or to truncate their voice. The disability community needs more advocates, not fewer. We cannot afford to have any of them silenced.

 

Such a claim by city staff would fly in the face of the purposes for AACs and SEACs. The most qualified people to serve on those committees are those who will vigorously speak up (i.e., advocate) for the accessibility needs of people with disabilities and who have actively done so in the past. Members of these advisory committees are volunteers. They should not be asked to surrender their disability advocacy at the door.

 

Moreover, what a member of one of these advisory committees does on their own time is none of the business of city staff or other public officials. These advisory committees to not make public policy or decide on anyone’s rights or responsibilities. They give advice and feedback on disability issues.

 

There is no conflict here between advising and advocating. The AODA Alliance has played a major role in advocating for accessibility for people with disabilities. We are also regularly called upon for advice by governments and others.

 

If any city staff or other public officials try to tell members of an AAC or SEAC that they may not be advocates or that they may not engage in public or private advocacy for people with disabilities these public officials should be immediately and publicly identified and called out for such misconduct. We ask that the AODA Alliance be notified. You can write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

 

 3. Inaccessible Virtual Meeting Platforms and Application Forms Are Not Allowed

 

City staff and school board officials must ensure that all proceedings of AACs and SEACs are fully accessible to people with disabilities. This is a basic requirement of the Charter of Rights, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We should not even have to address it here. However, regrettably, we must!

 

For example, all documents shared at an AAC or SEAC meeting should be in accessible formats. All virtual meetings should be conducted through the most accessible virtual meeting platforms. This must be said because too many times accessibility is not ensured.

 

Too often since the start of the pandemic, some AAC or SEAC virtual meetings have been conducted on inaccessible virtual meeting platforms. Several municipalities seem quite stuck on using Webex. Webex still has real accessibility problems, even though it is better than it was at the start of the pandemic. At meetings of more than one AAC, the AODA Alliance has raised accessibility objections to Webex only to hear that the advisory committee itself has raised the same objection with city staff to no avail. The widely used Zoom platform is known to be far easier to use and far more accessible. Webex should certainly not be used.

 

Time and again, city staff require a person to fill out a pdf application form in order to request a chance to make a deputation or presentation to an AAC. At times these forms turn out to require little if any more information than the applicant has already sent to the city staff in an email. PDF format is widely known to be replete with accessibility problems.

 

As one illustration the AODA Alliance has asked to speak to the Mississauga Accessibility Advisory Committee about e-scooters. City staff sent a pdf application form. When asked to be provided an accessible application such as in MS Word the Mississauga city staff member who is supporting their AAC forwarded this on to their city’s accessibility officials. The fact that a frontline city staff member working with an AAC knows so little about accessible documents in 2022 illustrates the problem.

 

Under the Education Act’s SEAC regulations, the school board is required to consult its SEAC on its budget for students with special education needs. The Toronto District School Board’s SEAC has several times been given inaccessible pdf documents by the school board’s senior budget officials, despite that SEAC’s repeated objections to pdf on accessibility grounds.

 

 4. Public Deputations to an Advisory Committee Should Not Be Artificially Limited to Five Minutes

 

If a member of the public or community organization comes to speak to an AAC or SEAC on an issue of concern, some of these advisory committees allow them only five minutes to speak. After that the presenter can speak longer only if they are asked questions by members of the advisory committee. If there are no questions five minutes is all they get.

 

This arbitrary practice appears to come from the rules or practices of municipal some council committees or school board committees, and not from the members of the advisory committees themselves. This unnecessary practice can hurt rather than help the advisory committee. From the AODA Alliance’s experience, it can be impossible to jam all the important information into five minutes. We have resorted to planting questions with some friendly committee members, in order to expand our presentation time.

 

When a member of the public takes the time to come to an AAC or SEAC meeting to make a presentation (often called a deputation or delegation), the advisory committee should insist on being far more flexible about the amount of time they give the presenter to speak. They should do so having regard to how many speakers they have and how full their agenda is for that meeting. They should not be artificially bound to a arbitrary five-minute rule for deputations. Here again, the advisory committee should run its own meetings as it wishes.

 

We don’t suggest that any speaker should always get all the time they want. Some might drone on forever. However, a five-minute rule is far too restrictive.

 

Some AACs and SEACs are commendably far more flexible and give speakers the time they need to present. This is the practice that all should follow.

 

 5. Municipal and School Board Bylaws Cannot Hog-Tie an AAC or SEAC’s Work

 

If city staff or other public officials tell an advisory committee that the city or school board has bylaws on how meetings must be conducted, we encourage the advisory committee not to let its meetings be improperly controlled in that way. City or school board bylaws cannot override the AODA’s provisions governing the Accessibility Advisory Committee or provincial regulations governing a SEAC.

 

We have just encountered an illustration of this. Mississauga is considering whether to permit e-scooters. The AODA Alliance has asked to present to its Accessibility Advisory Committee, in opposition to e-scooters. We also want to present to the committee of Mississauga City Council that will consider the e-scooters issue. In both Toronto and Ottawa, the AODA Alliance was able to present to the AAC and then to the committee of city councillors that were considering the e-scooters issue.

 

However, we are not allowed to speak to both groups in Mississauga. We have to choose whether we want to speak to the AAC or the committee of city council, but not both. City staff have stated that a city bylaw forces us to choose one or the other.

 

This is a totally unfair choice. We want to speak to the AAC to try to get its support. However, the AAC only gives advice. It does not decide. We want to speak to the city council committee, because it decides the ultimate question for practical purposes whether e-scooters will be allowed. In Mississauga, the e-scooters issue goes to a committee made up of all city council members. If we don’t go to the AAC, we risk the AAC giving advice without the benefit of our input. If we only go to the AAC, we don’t get a chance to speak to all the elected city council members who have the ultimate say.

 

The force and effect of this arbitrary city bylaw is to force community groups like ours to have to make this unfair choice. It can deprive the AAC of needed input to ensure its recommendations are as strong for people with disabilities as possible. Especially in a municipal government system that gives so much sway to city staff, often working behind closed doors, this runs contrary to the aims of the AODA’s provisions that create the AAC.

 6. Members of the Public Are Free to Talk to or Exchange Emails with Advisory Committee Members About Accessibility Issues Including Those on the Advisory Committee’s Agenda

 

Members of an AAC or SEAC should consider themselves free to speak or exchange emails at any time with any member of the public they wish about topics that are coming up or may come up before their advisory committee. These advisory committees are not like a judge, who cannot speak outside court to the parties about their case before that judge. We had an occasion where a member of an AAC refused to speak to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky about a topic that was to come up before the AAC, claiming that they can only discuss this topic during an open AAC meeting. A chair of another advisory committee directed members of that committee that they are not to discuss the business of the SEAC in emails. Nothing in the AODA or Ontario regulations that create SEACS permit any such restrictions.

 

 7. AACs and SEACs Have an Absolute Right to Have their Recommendations and Advice Shared Directly with The City Council or School Board Trustees Whom They are Appointed to Advise, and Not Just a Sub-Committee.

 

When an AAC or SEAC passes a motion setting out its advice or recommendations, city or school board staff must transmit that motion and advice/recommendation directly to all the elected officials they are appointed to advise. In the case of an AAC, their motion must be shared directly with the mayor and all city council members. In the case of a SEAC, it must be transmitted formally to the entire board of trustees. This motion and advice/recommendations should be formally tabled at an on-the-record meeting of the city council or school trustees as the case may be. These advisory committees should insist on this and accept nothing less.

 

In some communities, this does not happen. Instead, the AAC’s or SEACs advice is formally transmitted by staff only to a subcommittee of the city council or school board. That subcommittee typically does not include all of the elected city council members or school trustees. If the subcommittee does not decide to approve the advisory recommendation, then it dies there and may not be placed on the agenda of the full city council or school board to consider.

 

That common practice flies in the face of the laws that mandate these advisory committees. Here again, a city’s or school board’s bylaws or procedural practices cannot trump a provincial statute or regulation such as the AODA or the Education Act regulations that create SEACs.

 

During Its Four Years in Power, Ford Government Made Ontario a More Dangerous Place for Vulnerable People with Disabilities

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

During Its Four Years in Power, Ford Government Made Ontario a More Dangerous Place for Vulnerable People with Disabilities

 

April 18, 2022

 

Let’s size up the Ford Government’s four-year record on accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. There has been so much talk about building a stronger, more resilient Ontario after the first two years of COVID-19. Yet, for people with disabilities, Ontario is now less accessible and more dangerous for vulnerable people with disabilities than it was a year ago, and even more so than it was in June 2018.

 

The Ford Government and media talk about the “new normal.” This Update reveals that over and over, in this new normal, Ontario is now sharply divided between people who are medically strong and who have no disabilities on the one hand, and vulnerable people with disabilities on the other. This accelerating divide is due to the Ford Government’s deliberate actions. In summary:

 

  1. People with disabilities continue to disproportionately suffer COVID-19’s burdens.

 

  1. Shopping for basic necessities is more dangerous for vulnerable people with disabilities.

 

  1. Schools are more dangerous places for vulnerable people with disabilities.

 

  1. Ontario’s health care system is more dangerous for vulnerable patients with disabilities.

 

  1. Sidewalks In some cities are now more dangerous for pedestrians with disabilities and others.

 

  1. People with disabilities must endure new publicly funded infrastructure with disability barriers.

 

  1. Disability poverty persists.

 

  1. Ontario has fallen further behind in its commitment to become disability-accessible by 2025.

 

 

 1. People with Disabilities Continue to Disproportionately Suffer COVID-19’s Burdens

 

As we predicted over two years ago, vulnerable people with disabilities disproportionately suffered COVID-19’s hardships. They were more prone to get COVID-19, to experience its harshest impact, and to die from it. The Ford Government has made this much worse by failing, despite our repeated requests, to address the urgent needs of people with disabilities as an important part of its pandemic response. Ford’s “one size fits all” emergency planning too often assumed that no one has a disability. It relegated people with disabilities as an afterthought.

 

More on this is set out on the AODA Alliance website’s COVID-19 page.

 

 2. Shopping for Basic Necessities is More Dangerous for Vulnerable People with Disabilities

 

For people with disabilities with medically vulnerable conditions, it is more dangerous than three months ago to go to a grocery or drug store to buy basic necessities. This is because in the wake of a sixth wave of COVID-19, Ford prematurely eliminated mask and vaccine mandates. This accelerated the spread of the pandemic’s most contagious variant.

 

Ford’s medical officials strongly advise that we should still wear masks in public. This proves that masks are still medically necessary. The only reason for lifting those mandates in the wake of a new COVID-19 wave is Ford’s preoccupation with winning the June election.

 

 3. Schools Are More Dangerous Places for Vulnerable People with Disabilities

 

Public schools are a more dangerous place for the spread of COVID-19, because the Ford Government prematurely removed the mask and vaccine mandates and used its muscle to demand that no school board continue those mandates. It put at risk vulnerable, medically fragile students, as well as medically vulnerable family members who are endangered by the risk of their child bringing the infection home from school.

 

It was bad enough that Ford removed those mandates, predictably increasing this danger. It was worse for the Ford Government to try to prohibit all school boards from restoring mask and vaccine mandates.

 

This was blistering hypocrisy. Last year, Ontario’s Ministry of Education told the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee that the Ministry has no role to enforce special education requirements in school boards. Yet Ford’s Education Minister used his position to demand that school boards remove mask and vaccine mandates in school, even if a school board thinks they are needed to protect the health of students and staff. Ford’s Education Minister is far more willing to flex his regulatory muscle in ways that hurt students with disabilities than he is to help students with disabilities.

 

Ford’s conduct runs afoul of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights. Under those laws, students and school board employees with disabilities have a fundamental human right and constitutional right to have their disability-related needs accommodated at school. Especially during this highly contagious sixth wave of COVID-19, a school board’s keeping in place the COVID-19 mandates is an obvious and necessary accommodation for medically vulnerable students, employees, and family members.

 

The Ontario Human Rights Code guarantees that anyone, including a school board, has the right and duty to refuse to infringe the human rights of another person. The code also forbids anyone, including the Ford Government and its ministers and officials, from doing anything that directly or indirectly infringes the human rights of another person, or from taking or threatening a reprisal against anyone in connection with compliance with the Human Rights Code. The Code provides:

 

“8. Every person has a right to claim and enforce his or her rights under this Act, to institute and participate in proceedings under this Act and to refuse to infringe a right of another person under this Act, without reprisal or threat of reprisal for so doing.

 

  1. No person shall infringe or do, directly or indirectly, anything that infringes a right under this Part.”

 

When the Ford Government actively opposed school boards’ restoring the mask and vaccine mandate, this directly or indirectly violates the human rights of medically vulnerable students, school employees and family members with disabilities. The Ontario Government cannot actively try to block school boards from fulfilling their duty to accommodate people with disabilities under the Charter and the Human Rights Code.

 

The Ontario Human Rights Code is quasi-constitutional. It prevails over all other laws and policies, except where legislation expressly overrides it. None overrides it here.

 

The duty to accommodate students and school employees with disabilities requires a school board to maintain a mask and vaccine mandate while the pandemic so directly threatens public health. School boards should immediately put back in place the mask and vaccine mandate in order to comply with their duty to accommodate students with disabilities and should disregard the Ford Government’s contrary directions, which run afoul of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights.

 

For example, the Toronto District School Board has several “congregated schools.” They include medically complex and medically fragile students with disabilities. According to the Ford Government’s harmful approach, TDSB cannot even implement a masking and/or vaccine mandate at those schools.

 

As the April 18, 2022, Toronto Star reports (article reproduced below), TDSB’s Special Education Advisory Committee formally recommended:

 

“that TDSB ensure that congregated schools maintain a mask and vaccination requirement to the full extent of its capacity, to protect the health and safety of vulnerable students with disabilities.”

 

School boards should restore the mask and vaccine mandates at all teaching venues, and not just at congregated schools, especially during this sixth wave of the pandemic, in order to comply with their duty to accommodate people with disabilities. They should take the position that for the Ford Government to take any action or make any threats to oppose this, it would be violating the Ontario Human Rights Code. That we must discuss this illustrates how poorly the Ford Government is treating vulnerable people with disabilities in this “new normal.”

 

The Ford Government’s approach is incoherent. York University is commendably free to require an ongoing mask mandate, as it has done. Yet the Ford Government has tried forbidding all schools from doing the same, including schools that are right near York’s campus.

 

It is no answer that a large majority of Ontarians have had two vaccine shots. Two shots received months ago no longer provide sufficient protection against Covid-19. Less than half of Ontarians have had the third shot they need, much less a fourth one.

 

It is similarly no answer to tell vulnerable people with disabilities that they can choose to wear a mask in public if they wish. The maximum protection in public spaces like schools occurs only when everyone is masked.

 

More on this is found on the AODA Alliance website’s education page.

 

 4. Ontario’s Health Care system is More Dangerous for Vulnerable Patients with Disabilities

 

Ontario’s health care system is now a much more frightening place for patients with disabilities than it was before the pandemic. During the pandemic’s earliest weeks, the Ford Government created, supported, and maintained a largely secretive elite of doctors and bioethicists with a mandate to decide who will live and who will die if overloaded hospital intensive care units cannot serve all patients who need life-saving critical care. That secret elite demonstrated that it had no expertise in disability equality or human rights.

 

As news leaked out about this, disability advocates, including the AODA Alliance and the ARCH Disability Law Centre, repeatedly documented that this secret new critical care triage protocol was replete with serious unlawful disability discrimination. Over the past two years, the Ford Government refused to answer any of the AODA Alliance’s letters on this issue. Our letters documented our serious concerns and asked important questions. Ford failed to comply with his obligation to make public key documents on this topic, required under AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s May 2021 Freedom of Information application.

 

Some of those who crafted this disability-discriminatory critical care triage protocol served as the Ford Government’s key public defenders. They wrongly denied that there is any disability discrimination despite overwhelming proof to the contrary.

 

The damage to patients with disabilities has been deep-rooted and lasting, even though no formal critical care triage was said to have been invoked. This is because the disability-discriminatory approach to rationing medical services is now fully embedded in Ontario hospitals. Hospital staffs secretly conducted training drills on how to use it.

 

For example, the health and lives of some patients have been at risk due to delays in elective surgery. This was caused by pandemic-induced hospital overloads. Scarce elective surgery opportunities are being rationed. There is a real danger that the disability-discriminatory mentality that infects Ontario’s critical care triage protocol trickled down to those rationing decisions.

 

As another illustration of unfair new disability barriers in our health care system, the Ford Government announced in September 2021 that by February 28, 2022, everyone with an expired Ontario Health Card must renew it. Anyone without a driver’s license had to risk getting COVID-19 by going to a Service Ontario office to renew their Health Card. Only holders of a driver’s license could renew their Health Card online.

 

The Ford Government agreed to allow holders of an Ontario Photo ID Card to renew their expired Health Card online only after AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky brought a court application against it. Only after that court case was filed was the Ford Government forced to agree to extend to September 30, 2022, the grace period to renew an Ontario Health Card. However, The Government has not effectively publicized this extension. That too endangers the health of vulnerable people with disabilities who feel they must go to Service Ontario or risk losing their OHIP coverage.

 

More on this is found on the AODA Alliance website’s health care page.

 

 5. Sidewalks in Some Cities are Now More Dangerous for Pedestrians with Disabilities and Others

 

The Ford Government has made sidewalks in some cities more dangerous places for vulnerable pedestrians with disabilities, seniors, children, and others. At the behest of corporate lobbyists, Ford passed a 2019 regulation that lets cities around Ontario unleash dangerous electric scooters. A silent menace, pedestrians in some Ontario cities like Ottawa are endangered by uninsured, untrained, unlicensed joy-riders, racing at over 20 KPH on local sidewalks. Corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies laugh all the way to the bank, while injured victims of this silent menace sob all the way to over-crowded hospital emergency rooms.

 

More on this is available on the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

 6. People with Disabilities Must Endure New Publicly Funded Infrastructure with Disability Barriers

 

The Ford Government keeps announcing infrastructure projects, including new hospitals, public transit routes, schools etc. Yet despite our pressing for action, Ford instituted no new measures to ensure that these new projects will be fully accessible to people with disabilities.

 

More on this is set out on the AODA Alliance website’s built environment page.

 

 7. Disability Poverty Persists

 

In Ford’s Ontario, tens of thousands of public dollars are readily offered to small businesses. Yet people with disabilities living in poverty get a fraction of this despite COVID-19’s raising the costs they must pay out of their sub-poverty ODSP benefits. This led us to question whether impoverished people with disabilities need to declare themselves to be small businesses in order to get desperately needed help.

 

 8. Ontario Fell Further Behind in Its Commitment to Become Disability-Accessible by 2025

 

Ford has an abysmal record when it comes to fulfilling its duty to implement and enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Ontario will not be accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025, the AODA’s mandatory deadline.

 

The Ford Government never brought forward a comprehensive plan to meet that deadline. It never announced an effective plan to implement the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation that it received a long 1,173 days ago, and that was conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley.

 

It enacted no new accessibility standards under the AODA. It strengthened none of the AODA accessibility standards that were in force when it took office. Its enforcement of the AODA is ineffectual and barely visible.

 

Ontario desperately needs to enact a strong and effective AODA Built Environment Accessibility Standard to ensure that the built environment becomes disability accessible. In 2019, Ford’s Accessibility Minister insulted, hurt, and infuriated many people with disabilities when he publicly described the creation of such a standard as “red tape.”

 

The Ford Government broke its commitment that it would get a new AODA Standards Development Committee running by early this year to address accessibility barriers in the built environment. It has only appointed a Committee Chair, without holding a fair public competition.

 

Ford substantially delayed the work of AODA Standards Development Committees that were addressing disability barriers in education, health care, employment, and information and communication when Ford took office. He only let those Standards Development Committees get to work after the AODA Alliance spent months tenaciously campaigning to get him to lift the freeze on their work.

 

The Ford Government unlawfully kept secret for months the reports of these Committees despite an AODA requirement for them to publicly post those reports upon receiving them. It announced no plans for new action in any of these areas.

 

The Ford Government wasted $1.3 million dollars by giving it to the widely criticized and seriously deficient Rick Hansen Foundation private accessibility certification program. Not a single disability barrier was removed as a result of that misuse of public money.

 

More on this is provided on the AODA Alliance website’s What’s New page

.

Toronto Star April 18, 2022

 

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2022/04/15/tdsb-committee-wants-masking-vaccination-for-those-who-work-with-special-needs-children.html

 

News

 

Panel wants masking for at-risk kids

TDSB committee asks Ontario’s top doctor to reinstate measures for special needs education

 

Isabel Teotonio Toronto Star

 

A Toronto public school board committee that advocates on behalf of students with special needs wants to bring back mandatory masking and vaccination for those who work with medically fragile children.

 

The Special Education Advisory Committee has written to the province’s top doctor requesting permission for the board to reintroduce masking rules and its vaccination policy at congregated schools that serve students with complex special needs, many of whom have multiple disabilities.

 

“Recent changes to COVID-19 safety measures, specifically regarding masking and vaccination requirements, have put these students at great risk of contracting the virus,” say SEAC members in a letter to the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore. “The COVID-19 virus poses great risks for any of these students, as it may exacerbate existing symptoms of their already complex disabilities and medical fragilities.”

 

The committee says some parents are concerned about potential exposure at school and are keeping their kids home.

 

“They have been forced to choose between safety of their children, and important therapies and learning,” according to the letter sent Tuesday. “These vulnerable students must risk getting sick to be able to access education.”

 

The Star contacted the ministries of health and education about SEAC’s request, but did not hear back by time of publication.

 

The Toronto District School Board has 12 congregated schools, serving about 1,100 students with complex needs, including intellectual, physical, medical, communication, or behavioural challenges. TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said the “vast majority” of staff at those sites are vaccinated and masked.

 

Last month, the province said school boards were no longer required to have a COVID-19 vaccine disclosure policy for staff, beginning March 14. So the TDSB, one of the few boards that mandated COVID-19 vaccination amongst staff, revoked its policy. Ontario also lifted mandatory masking for most settings, including schools, effective March 21.

 

As legislated by the Ministry of Education, each school board must have a Special Education Advisory Committee, which provides advice on the special needs of exceptional children and makes recommendations about special education services and programs.

 

At the TDSB, the committee is made up of three trustees, voluntary representatives from 12 local associations, eight community representatives and alternates. The board appoints them to a four-year term. Many members are parents of children with special needs.

 

SEAC chair Steven Lynette says it doesn’t make sense for the province to maintain mandatory masking in places such as congregate living settings and hospitals, but not in congregated schools.

 

“Some of these classrooms are like hospital wards,” Lynette told the Star.

 

“These kids are not just in wheelchairs, but they’re in hospital beds, being transported around. Some of them have feeding tubes. Many of them have IVs (intravenous therapies). There are nurses in these schools. These are like hospital settings, but the ministry has decided that they’re not.”

 

Before the province lifted its mask mandate, the TDSB wrote to Moore asking for “additional direction” to protect medically fragile students, including in congregate settings.

 

In his response, Moore said “those most vulnerable to this virus should continue to wear a mask in select settings, including those who are immunocompromised or medically fragile. Those in close contact with vulnerable individuals may also consider continuing to wear a mask.”

 

Moore also noted that schools provincewide continue to be provided with ventilation upgrades, rapid antigen tests and free personal protective equipment for students and staff.

 

Lynette said some students in congregated schools can’t wear masks for a variety of reasons. They may pose a choking hazard, cause difficulty breathing, and those with severe developmental delays may refuse to wear them because they don’t understand the risk.

 

Trustee Rachel Chernos Lin, who has two congregated sites in her ward – Park Lane Public School and Sunny View Junior and Senior Public School – called SEAC’s letter “incredibly powerful.”

 

“It supports the advocacy we have done at the TDSB, and clearly elucidates our concerns and the concerns shared with me by principals and parents at congregated sites,” said Chernos Lin, who isn’t on the committee.

 

Toronto Public Health says policies related to masking are within the province’s purview. It says a recent update to the Reopening Ontario Act prevents local medical officers of health from issuing letters of instruction to implement local measures, such as masking requirements in schools.

 

But the Ministry of Health says the Reopening Ontario Act was intended as a temporary response to the pandemic, and public health units can still implement local public health measures through Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

 

 

 

Will Ottawa City Council Today Green-Light a 3rd Pilot with Electric Scooters, Using Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others as Unwilling Guinea Pigs, Even Though E-Scooters Have Been Proven in Ottawa to Endanger Their Safety and Accessibility?

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Will Ottawa City Council Today Green-Light a 3rd Pilot with Electric Scooters, Using Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others as Unwilling Guinea Pigs, Even Though E-Scooters Have Been Proven in Ottawa to Endanger Their Safety and Accessibility?

 

March 23, 2022 Toronto: Today, Ottawa City Council is scheduled to debate and decide whether to use vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others as unwilling guinea pigs in a third e-scooters pilot project. It would again unleash dangerous e-scooters in public places. Ottawa City Council needs to stand up for people with disabilities, and to stand up to the relentless corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies who profit from their deployment in Ottawa. The meeting starting at 10 am, is streamed live at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUR3i_hvk3-3i8vtrPg6v1Q

 

The 2020 and 2021 Ottawa pilots produced overwhelming proof that e-scooters endangered people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. A silent menace, e-scooters, appearing out of nowhere, were ridden on sidewalks in Ottawa and other cities that ban them from sidewalks. Uninsured, unlicensed, untrained, unhelmeted joy-riders, racing at 20 KPH, endanger the safety of innocent pedestrians, especially people who can’t see them coming or quickly dodge them. Left strewn on Ottawa sidewalks, e-scooters have been tripping hazards for blind people, and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

 

According to Ottawa’s own survey, 83% of respondents encountered mis-parked e-scooters. 79% encountered e-scooters illegally ridden on sidewalks. The AODA Alliance had warned the Ottawa mayor’s office of these dangers the night before City Council voted to approve the first e-scooter pilot back in 2020. The mayor’s office ignored these dangers.

 

Last month, Ottawa’s City-appointed Accessibility Advisory Committee strongly recommended that Ottawa not again allow e-scooters. Disability organizations and every speaker with disabilities presenting at Council’s committees opposed e-scooters, fearing injuries. Montreal rejected e-scooters after a pilot. Despite a corporate lobbyists’ feeding frenzy, Toronto City Council unanimously said no to e-scooters.

 

Also, despite overwhelming evidence against e-scooters, Ottawa City Staff, cheerleading for e-scooters, have shown insufficient concern for disability barriers. They parrot the e-scooter corporate lobbyists’ inflated sales pitch.

 

In the face of these dangers, it was wrong for Ottawa’s Transportation Committee to endorse a third e-scooter pilot at its March 2nd meeting. E-scooter corporate lobbyists promise unproven spiffy new technology on their e-scooters, to magically prevent these safety dangers. Ottawa should not trust their bloated claims!

 

It was also wrong for that Transportation Committee to fail to effectively accommodate AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s blindness at that meeting. This impeded his effectiveness when making a deputation there against e-scooters. Lepofsky has filed a complaint with Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner.

 

It’s wrong to give City staff a blank check to green light a pilot if they like these unproven new gadgets. It’s wrong for Ottawa’s City staff and Transportation Committee to approve using Ottawa residents, including people with disabilities, seniors, and others, as unwilling guinea pigs to test out corporate lobbyists’ sales pitch.

 

There are news reports from around the world documenting very serious injuries that e-scooters have caused. In the latest fatality earlier this week, a teenager was killed in London England while riding an e-scooter.

 

City Council should just say no to e-scooters. It should tell City staff not to come back with a proposal, unless this promised technology has been independently and thoroughly proven to eliminate dangers to people with disabilities and others.

 

As an example of City staff’s absurd solutions that marginalize the safety of people with disabilities, while purporting to show concern for this, they recommend that e-scooters have braille contact information for reporting complaints. Blind people can’t read braille on an e-scooter, racing by on a sidewalk. If they trip over an e-scooter, abandoned on the sidewalk, they are not about to grope around to see if there’s braille on it. Ottawa staff advanced this recommendation even after being shown its obvious absurdity.

 

Ottawa has too many barriers impeding people with disabilities. It should not knowingly create more barriers, giving e-scooter corporate lobbyists an undeserved third kick at the can.

 

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

 

For background, visit the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page and its March 2, 2022 brief to the Ottawa Transportation Committee.

Read the AODA Alliance’s March 6, 2022 letter to Ottawa City Council and AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s March 20, 2022 complaint to the Ottawa Integrity Commissioner

Disability Advocate Files Complaint with Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner Because Ottawa’s Transportation Committee Failed to Provide Proper Disability Accommodation When Considering Whether to Support a 3rd Pilot Project With E-Scooters that Endanger People with Disabilities

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

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/

 

Disability Advocate Files Complaint with Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner Because Ottawa’s Transportation Committee Failed to Provide Proper Disability Accommodation When Considering Whether to Support a 3rd Pilot Project With E-Scooters that Endanger People with Disabilities

 

March 21, 2022 Toronto: In a disturbing rush to support a third year of electric scooters in Ottawa, even though they endanger safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors, and others, members of Ottawa’s Transportation Committee contravened their duty to accommodate blind disability rights advocate David Lepofsky at its March 2, 2022 meeting, according to a complaint Lepofsky filed with Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner. Lepofsky made a deputation to the Transportation Committee, urging Ottawa not to use vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, and others as unwilling guinea pigs in a third pilot project with e-scooters in public places that endanger their safety and accessibility. In his affidavit submitted to the Integrity Commissioner, set out below, Lepofsky summarized:

 

“13. When it came time for me to speak, I faced disability discrimination in two ways.

  1. a) Unlike sighted members of the Committee and deputants, I and other blind deputants only received electronic copies of the City’s staff report and supporting documents in an accessible format late in the day before this Transportation Committee meeting. That was far too late to be able to read them, much less to prepare a full response to them. For this reason, I asked the Committee to defer the e-scooter agenda item to a future meeting, so that we could read the documents to which we had to respond. The Chair and the Committee members did not grant this request, or even discuss or deliberate upon it. As such, I—unlike the e- scooter corporate lobbyists—was at a hopeless and unfair disadvantage in speaking to the issues before the Transportation Committee.
  2. b) The Committee used the “Zoom webinars” platform for its meeting. I was able to log on to hear the proceedings, but was unable to perceive a link or button to click to enable me to speak to the Committee. I only learned of this right before I was to make my deputation. The Committee Clerk instead had me make my deputation over my phone, speaking to his phone. He held his phone up to his computer microphone in an effort to let the Committee members hear what I was saying to them. This is a far less effective way to present a deputation. Unknown to me until my deputation finished, my audio was cutting in and out. Committee members could not hear parts of my deputation. When I finished, a member of the Committee stated that he had not been able to hear much of my deputation. I asked the Committee and its Chair to let me make my deputation through an accessible medium, so that they could hear it all. I identified this as an issue of disability accessibility. This request was not granted or even brought to a vote of the Committee.”
  3. As a result, I and the AODA Alliance which I serve were denied a fair chance to be effectively heard on an important issue of public policy that relates to health, safety and accessibility of people with disabilities and others. Contrary to requests of deputants with disabilities, the Committee voted that afternoon in favour of a third e-scooter pilot, with variations that do not reduce our disability concerns.”

 

“It would have been so easy for the Transportation Committee to accommodate my disability-related needs, had it taken a moment to take this seriously, rather than barrelling ahead to vote against people with disabilities, and in favour of e-scooters,” said Lepofsky, who chairs the non-partisan AODA Alliance which campaigns for accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario, and which opposes dangerous e-scooters. “We need Ottawa City Council to stand up for people with disabilities, and to stand up to the e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists, when this issue is on the City Council agenda on March 23.”

 

Lepofsky asks the Integrity Commissioner to find that the Chair and members of the Ottawa Transportation Committee at the meeting during his deputation contravened section 7 of Ottawa’s Code of Conduct. It forbids discrimination, which includes this disability discrimination.

 

Last month, Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee recommended that Ottawa not again allow e-scooters, because they endanger people with disabilities. E-scooters, improperly racing at 20 KPH on sidewalks by uninsured, unlicensed, and untrained joy-riders are a silent menace to people with disabilities and others. E-scooters left strewn on sidewalks are a dangerous tripping hazard for blind people, and an accessibility barrier for people using a wheelchair. An Ottawa’s City Staff Report shows that e-scooters posed these dangers in 2020-21, but proposes inadequate measures that won’t eliminate them.

 

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

For background, visit the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page and its March 2, 2022 brief to the Ottawa Transportation Committee.

 

Text of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s March 20, 2022 Affidavit, Submitted to the Ottawa Integrity Commissioner

 

DECLARATION/AFFIDAVIT

I, David Lepofsky, CM, O.Ont., LLB (Osgoode Hall), LLM (Harvard University), LLD (Hon. Queen’s University, University of Western Ontario, Law Society of Ontario), of the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario, AFFIRM AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

  1. I am the Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (the “AODA Alliance”) and am blind. I am a lawyer, qualified to practice law in Ontario. I retired in December 2015 after working for 33 years as Crown counsel with the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario. I now hold the part-time position of Visiting Professor of Disability Rights and Legal Education at the Osgoode Hall Law School.
  2. I have personal knowledge of the facts hereinafter deposed to except where stated to be based on information and belief. I have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the members of Ottawa’s Transportation Committee, who were present during the Committee’s virtual March 2, 2022 meeting while I was making my deputation to that Committee about the issue of electric scooters (e-scooters), have contravened section 7 of the Code of Conduct. I understand that the Chair of the Committee is Tim Tierney and that the Vice Chair is Jeff Leiper. The other members of the committee were Mathieu Fleury, Catherine Kitts, Eli El-Chantiry, George Darouze, Diane Deans, Laura Dudas, Shawn Menard, Matthew Luloff, and Allan Hubley. I do not know whether any of them were absent when I was making my deputation. If any were absent, then I make no complaint against them and allege nothing against them.
  3. In this affidavit, I:
  4. provide a summary of my complaint.
  5. explain what the AODA Alliance is.
  6. explain my involvement with the AODA Alliance.
  7. describe the e-scooters issue that is the backdrop to this complaint.
  8. set out the details about this complaint.
  9. explain why this conduct amounts to disability discrimination against me, contrary to section 7 of Ottawa’s Code of Conduct, and
  10. summarize what I aim to achieve in this complaint.

 

A.     Summary of this Complaint Under Section 7 of the Code of Conduct

 

  1. This complaint of disability discrimination under section 7 of Ottawa’s Code of Conduct, applicable to certain members of Ottawa City Council, arises out of the treatment I received in connection with my deputation to the Ottawa Transportation Committee at its March 2, 2022 meeting. The key events at that meeting span about ten minutes and should be captured in the Youtube recording of the meeting during my deputation. On that meeting’s agenda was a report from Ottawa City staff, proposing that Ottawa City Council conduct a third pilot project in 2022 with e-scooters.
  2. I was treated in an unfair and discriminatory way during that meeting by the chair of the Transportation Committee, and by the members present at that Committee meeting, in connection with my deputation on e-scooters.
  3. On the morning of March 2, 2022, I powered up my computer and readied myself to make a deputation that I had requested to make to Ottawa City Council’s Transportation Committee. The Committee’s agenda included a report and recommendation from Ottawa City staff that in 2022, Ottawa should again allow e-scooters in public places. I, the AODA Alliance which I chair, and many others from the disability community have united to oppose e-scooters because they present a serious danger to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors and others, as I describe below.
  4. This Transportation Committee meeting was exceedingly important for the many of us who oppose e-scooters. It would be our only chance to speak directly to a group of Ottawa City Council members, to try to convince them not to follow the City staff recommendation that endangers us. Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee had recommended that e-scooters not again be allowed in Ottawa. However, Ottawa City staff pushed ahead with its recommendation in favour of e-scooters, contradicting that important Accessibility Advisory Committee recommendation.
  5. I was geared up to have to speak whenever our item was reached. As a deputant, I only get five minutes to cram in all our important points. We had filed a brief with the Transportation Committee the day before, which is available online at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-brief-urges-city-of-ottawas-transportation-committee-to-reject-wrong-headed-city-staff-proposal-to-hold-third-pilot-project-with-electric-scooters-dangers-proven-to-people-with-disab/. I had to prepare for the realistic chance that some or all members of the Transportation Committee had not read it before the meeting. I am an experienced lawyer who has argued cases at all levels of court. Squeezing an entire argument into five minutes is a stressful, daunting advocacy challenge at the best of times.
  6. I dutifully logged onto the meeting link before 9:30 a.m., the meeting’s start time, using the link that the City Clerk’s office had sent me. As the day dragged on, there was no way for me to know when the e-scooters issue would be reached. I stayed tuned into the Ottawa Transportation Committee meeting on and off until our agenda item was finally reached, after 4 p.m. that day, with the exception of a 90-minute period when I had to log off to give a virtual lecture to law students.
  7. We faced a very uphill advocacy challenge. Ottawa City staff made a presentation to the Transportation Committee that enthusiastically endorsed another e-scooter pilot in Ottawa, despite the fact that Ottawa survey data proved the dangers to people with disabilities, seniors and others, and despite the contrary recommendation from the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee. Moreover, Committee members heard from corporate lobbyists from the e-scooter rental companies who endorsed that City staff report and recommendation.
  8. When it came time for me to speak, I faced disability discrimination in two ways.
  9. a) Unlike sighted members of the Committee and deputants, I and other blind deputants only received electronic copies of the City’s staff report and supporting documents in an accessible format late in the day before this Transportation Committee meeting. That was far too late to be able to read them, much less to prepare a full response to them. For this reason, I asked the Committee to defer the e-scooter agenda item to a future meeting, so that we could read the documents to which we had to respond. The Chair and the Committee members did not grant this request, or even discuss or deliberate upon it. As such, I—unlike the e- scooter corporate lobbyists—was at a hopeless and unfair disadvantage in speaking to the issues before the Transportation Committee.
  10. b) The Committee used the “Zoom webinars” platform for its meeting. I was able to log on to hear the proceedings, but was unable to perceive a link or button to click to enable me to speak to the Committee. I only learned of this right before I was to make my deputation. The Committee Clerk instead had me make my deputation over my phone, speaking to his phone. He held his phone up to his computer microphone in an effort to let the Committee members hear what I was saying to them. This is a far less effective way to present a deputation. Unknown to me until my deputation finished, my audio was cutting in and out. Committee members could not hear parts of my deputation. When I finished, a member of the Committee stated that he had not been able to hear much of my deputation. I asked the Committee and its Chair to let me make my deputation through an accessible medium, so that they could hear it all. I identified this as an issue of disability accessibility. This request was not granted or even brought to a vote of the Committee.
  11. As a result, I and the AODA Alliance which I serve were denied a fair chance to be effectively heard on an important issue of public policy that relates to health, safety and accessibility of people with disabilities and others. Contrary to requests of deputants with disabilities, the Committee voted that afternoon in favour of a third e-scooter pilot, with variations that do not reduce our disability concerns.
  12. This complaint does not ask the Ottawa Integrity Commissioner to evaluate the Transportation Committee’s decision to approve Ottawa allowing e-scooters for a third year. My complaint is about the failure of the Committee chair and members of the Committee to fulfil their duty to accommodate my disability, up to the point of undue hardship, in order to ensure that I could fully and fairly take part in the Committee proceedings regarding the e-scooters issue. This constitutes discrimination based on disability contrary to section 7 of the Code of Conduct.
  13. This complaint does not ask the Integrity Commissioner to assess the practices of Ottawa City staff or of the Ottawa Clerk’s office in choosing what formats to use when publicly posting documents in connection with an upcoming meeting of a committee of Ottawa City Council. Similarly, this complaint does not ask the Integrity Commissioner to assess the choice of Ottawa City staff or the Ottawa Clerk’s office of which virtual meeting platform to use, or their accessibility for people with disabilities. Instead, this complaint directly addresses how the Chair and members of the Transportation Committee responded to my two requests for disability-related accommodations at their March 2, 2022 meeting.

 B. Who is the AODA Alliance?

 

  1. The AODA Alliance is an unincorporated, volunteer-run, non-partisan community coalition, established in the fall of 2005. Its mission is to contribute to the achievement of a barrier-free society for all persons with disabilities, by promoting the timely, effective, and comprehensive implementation of the AODA. Its activities are documented on its website at https://www.aodaalliance.org.
  2. The AODA Alliance is the successor to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee (the “ODA Committee”). From 1994 to mid-2005, the ODA Committee led a non-partisan province-wide campaign, advocating for the enactment of strong, effective disability accessibility legislation in Ontario. This culminated in the AODA’s enactment in 2005. The work of the ODA Committee is documented at: http://www.odacommittee.net.
  3. The AODA Alliance is widely recognized as a credible non-partisan voice on disability accessibility issues.
  4. The Ontario Government and members of the provincial legislature repeatedly and publicly recognized and commended the efforts of the AODA Alliance, and before it, the ODA Committee, for its volunteer advocacy on the cause of accessibility for people with disabilities.
  5. In every provincial election starting in 1995, at least two of the major Ontario political parties have made election commitments concerning accessibility for people with disabilities. In every case where such commitments were made, they were set out in letters from the party leader to the ODA Committee up to 2005, and after that, to the AODA Alliance.
  6. The AODA Alliance has provided input on accessibility issues to Ontario municipalities, including Ottawa, Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton London and Brampton. Our input on accessibility issues has also been provided to community groups and government officials in several Canadian provinces, to the Government of Canada, and in other countries, such as Israel and New Zealand.

 C. What is My Involvement with the AODA Alliance?

 

  1. I am intimately familiar with the work of the AODA Alliance, and of its predecessor, the ODA Committee. All my work for these coalitions has been as a volunteer.
  2. a) I served as Co-Chair, and later as Chair, of the ODA Committee from early 1995 up to its dissolution in August 2005.

b)I was present during the establishment of the AODA Alliance and was a driving force behind its establishment as the successor to the ODA Committee. I initially took no leadership role with the AODA Alliance although I remained available to assist.

  1. c) In early 2006, the AODA Alliance appointed me as its Human Rights Reform Representative. I served as lead spokesperson for the AODA Alliance during controversial legislative debates over a reform to the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  2. d) From February 2009 to the present, I have served as Chair of the AODA Alliance.
  3. Over more than two decades, I have had very extensive dealings with the Government of Ontario at all levels, both in my capacity with the AODA Alliance, and prior to that, as co-chair and then chair of the ODA Committee. In these capacities, I have met with Ontario Premiers, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Secretaries of Cabinet, Assistant Deputy Ministers, and a myriad of other public officials in the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Public Service. I have similarly had extensive dealings with opposition parties.
  4. I have also been extensively involved with advocacy on disability accessibility at the local and municipal area. I have met with a number of mayors, city council members and municipal public servants.
  5. I have made presentations to the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada, to the Legislatures of Ontario and Manitoba, and to several municipal committees, further detailed below. I am no stranger to the process of making such presentations or deputations.
  6. I have received several awards for my volunteer activities on disability accessibility issues, including my volunteer work for the ODA Committee and later for the AODA Alliance. Among these, I was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 1995, as a member of the Order of Ontario in 2008 and in the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 2003. I have received honorary doctorates from Queen’s University, the University of Western Ontario and the Law Society of Ontario arising from this activity. I also received an Access and Equity Award from the City of Toronto in 2002.

 D. This Complaint’s Policy Background– What is the Electric Scooters Disability Issue in Ottawa?

 

  1. The debate over whether Ottawa should allow e-scooters is an important backdrop to this complaint.
  2. In 2019, the Ontario Government passed a regulation that gives Ontario municipalities the authority to permit the use of e-scooters for up to five years as a pilot project. It did so at the behest of the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies, and over the strong objections from Ontario’s disability community. It appeared to us that the e-scooter corporate lobbyists had the inside track with the Ontario Premier and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. I led the AODA Alliance’s efforts in opposition to the enactment of that provincial regulation.
  3. E-scooters present twin dangers to people with disabilities, seniors, and others:
  4. a) In cities where e-scooters are allowed including Ottawa, e-scooters are regularly ridden on sidewalks even where sidewalk riding is prohibited. The silent menace of an uninsured, unlicensed, untrained, e-scooter joy-rider, racing at 20 KPH, endangers pedestrians with disabilities, seniors, and others.
  5. b) In Ottawa and other cities allowing e-scooters, riders regularly leave them abandoned on public sidewalks. This is a tripping hazard for blind people like me and people with low vision. It creates mobility barriers for people using wheelchairs.
  6. On January 22, 2020, the AODA Alliance made public an open letter (that I wrote) to all Ontario municipalities and to the Ontario Government. It opposes e-scooters. Eleven disability organizations co-signed that letter. It is at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/major-disability-organizations-open-letter-to-the-ford-government-and-ontario-municipalities-dont-allow-electric-scooters-on-our-roads-sidewalks-and-public-places-because-they-endanger-our-safe/
  7. Since the start of 2020, I have led the AODA Alliance’s effort at the municipal level, opposing e-scooters. This included, for example, making deputations remotely or virtually to the Accessibility Advisory Committees of Toronto (twice), Ottawa, Mississauga, Hamilton, London and Brampton. I made deputations to the City of Toronto Infrastructure Committee and the City of London Civic Works Committee.
  8. In each community where we have advocated on this issue, it has been clear to me that we face an uphill battle against well-funded, well-connected and well-organized lobbying by corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies. They seek to get municipalities to opt into conducting pilot projects with e-scooters. They then try to secure contracts with municipalities to rent their e-scooters to the public.
  9. The AODA Alliance documented the scope of corporate lobbyists’ efforts in Toronto. In 2020, the AODA Alliance made public a report that documented a feeding frenzy by the e-scooter corporate lobbyists at Toronto City Hall. It was based on Toronto’s official lobbyists’ register. The AODA Alliance’s report is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/new-report-reveals-corporate-lobbyists-feeding-frenzy-at-city-hall-to-pressure-toronto-city-council-to-lift-ban-on-electric-scooters-that-endanger-people-with-disabilities/
  10. On June 9, 2020, on the eve of Ottawa City Council’s first vote that approved a pilot project with e-scooters, I spoke by phone with senior officials in the office of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. I alerted them of our opposition to e-scooters and to the twin dangers that e-scooters create. This is documented in a June 10, 2020 AODA Alliance news release which I wrote, and which is available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/will-ottawa-city-council-today-vote-to-conduct-a-deeply-troubling-experiment-on-ottawa-residents-and-visitors-by-allowing-electric-scooters-that-endanger-people-with-disabilities-and-others/
  11. Ottawa City Council nevertheless approved that e-scooter pilot for 2020, and a second one for 2021. Ample information presented to the Ottawa Transportation Committee and the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee in 2022 documents that the twin dangers about which we warned have materialized in abundance in Ottawa.

 

E. The Details of the Complaint

i) Failure to Accommodate After Late Provision of Accessible Documents

 

  1. At the March 2, 2022 Transportation Committee meeting, I and other similarly situated blind people were not effectively accommodated in our need for access to the Ottawa City Staff Report, and the several supporting documents that City staff placed before the Transportation Committee on the e-scooters issue. It is a fundamental requirement under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and s. 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that we, as people with disabilities, be given equal timely access to such documents in an accessible format. This did not occur here.
  2. At some point during the week before the March 2,2022 Transportation Committee meeting, The City of Ottawa publicly posted a collection of documents online regarding e-scooters. This included the new report of Ottawa City staff (including their recommendation that Ottawa conduct a third pilot with e-scooters), and a series of supporting documents. I understand that these are provided to all members of the Transportation Committee in advance for them to consider when they decide how to vote on the Ottawa City staff’s e-scooter recommendations. For members of the public, they are provided sufficiently in advance so that they can decide if they want to make a deputation to the Committee, and so that they can prepare deputations that effectively address the specifics that have been placed by public officials before the Committee. This is important to make democracy work.
  3. These documents were made available to the public at some time during the week before this Committee meeting in pdf format. It is not news that pdf format presents accessibility problems for blind people like me, who use screen-reading programs to be able to read electronic documents. I and the AODA Alliance have been among the many who have advocated for years that where documents are provided to the public in pdf format, they should also be provided in an alternative format that is accessible such as MS Word.
  4. On learning of the public posting of these documents, I promptly emailed the official from the City Clerk’s office, asking for all those documents in MS Word format so that they would be accessible. That official had emailed me that the Ottawa City staff report (which was in pdf) was accessible, but the supporting documents were not. I explained to him by email that pdf raises accessibility concerns, and that I needed all the documents, including the Ottawa City staff report, in MS Word format, in order to be accessible.
  5. The City Clerk’s office did not send me the City’s posted documents—either the City staff report on e-scooters or the supporting documentation—in an accessible format, until late in the day on March 1, 2022, the day before this Transportation Committee meeting. In the meantime, I had undertaken my own efforts to convert the actual City staff report on e-scooters into a readable MS Word document. I cannot tell to what extent any information in the City staff report was lost during that conversion process.
  6. I did not have time to read any of the City’s supporting documentation before I wrote the AODA Alliance’s March 1, 2022 brief to the Transportation Committee, or before the March 2, 2022 Transportation Committee meeting itself, which began at 9:30 a.m. the next morning. I therefore could not address any of those supporting documents in my deputation that day.
  7. As noted earlier, the issue that I raise in this complaint is not the original decision to post these documents in pdf format. I anticipate that this was the responsibility of City staff. I have no knowledge that any members of the Ottawa Transportation Committee took part in the earlier decision over the choice of format of posted documents.
  8. In the March 1, 2022 AODA Alliance brief to the Ottawa Transportation Committee, we alerted all Committee members in advance to this document accessibility problem. It states:

” We conclude this brief by noting that it is a painful irony that Ottawa has not made the Ottawa City Staff Report available in an accessible format. That violates the AODA’s Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Moreover, City Staff provided its Report in pdf format, claiming it was accessible. Yet it is widely known that pdf presents accessibility problems, and that where used, an alternative accessible format such as html or MS Word should also be provided at the same time.

Moreover, as of Friday, February 25, 2022, less than a week before Ottawa’s Transportation Committee is to consider e-scooters, the City of Ottawa acknowledged that it could not then provide the City Staff report’s supporting documents in an accessible format. Those were only provided less than a day before the March 2, 2022 Transportation Committee meeting, and only in pdf format (which, as just noted, presents accessibility problems). Here again, people with disabilities deserve better.”

  1. At the outset of my March 2, 2022 deputation, I asked the Committee to defer the e-scooter agenda item to a future meeting, because the City had not provided the Ottawa City Staff Report and related background documents in an accessible format until late on the day before this Committee meeting. I identified that I am blind and need these documents in an accessible format to read them.
  2. The Chair of the Committee and the Committee as a whole did not appear to even consider this request. The Chair did not seek any discussion of it with the Committee. No member of the Committee spoke up on this issue, in an effort to get my needs accommodated. Instead, the Committee simply forged ahead, had me continue my deputation, and later that afternoon voted in favour of a third pilot with e-scooters, with minor modifications that don’t allay the dangers to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities.
  3. Some time that afternoon after my deputation, another blind presenter whom I know raised this same documents accessibility problem during his deputation.
  4. That failure to accommodate alone violates s. 7 of the Code of Conduct. Of course, we could read those documents some time after that Transportation Committee meeting, but by then, it would obviously be too late. By then, the Committee had already debated and voted to support the third e-scooter pilot that we opposed.
  5. This discriminatory lack of integrity goes to the very fairness of the Committee. Our opponents at this meeting, the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies, would have been able to read all those documents in advance of the Committee meeting. In fact, some of those documents were written by them.
 ii) Failure to Accommodate My Need to Effectively Communicate My Deputation to the Transportation Committee During the March 2, 2022 Transportation Committee Meeting

 

  1. When asked twice by me during this meeting for accommodation, the Committee Chair and the Committee as a whole did not effectively address my disability-related accommodation needs that arose from the City’s choice of virtual meeting platforms. The Committee used a virtual platform called Zoom Webinar. It is different from the commonly used Zoom meeting platform. I make daily use of the Zoom meeting platform and am very familiar with its excellent accessibility features.
  2. My experience on this date with the Zoom webinar platform was very problematic. In this instance I was able to log into the meeting and listen, which I had been doing on and off from 9:30 a.m. when the meeting began, until after 4 p.m. when the e-scooters issues was reached. I, like other upcoming deputants, can receive the audio and video of the meeting. However, we cannot unmute ourselves to speak when our turn comes. Instead we evidently must await a prompt being sent to us by the meeting host, and must accept it.
  3. That afternoon, I never received a prompt to be able to join as a speaker and to unmute myself. I received an email from a City Clerk’s official during that afternoon telling me that I needed to accept a Zoom prompt so I could be added as a panelist (i.e. speaker) From this, I gather that a request was sent to me via the Zoom Webinar platform. However, my screen reader never read aloud any incoming request. My computer’s screen reading software did not detect and alert me to any request or any button to click to accept the invitation.
  4. I immediately emailed the City Clerk’s official to ask what keyboard command can be used to accept their invitation to become a panelist. He replied that he will check. No effective solution was found. Keyboard commands are used, where available, by those of us who cannot use a mouse to click a button or other command.
  5. I am a skilled blind computer user. I have had a great deal of success using the different Zoom Meeting platform, including being alerted to incoming notifications that are transmitted to me. I don’t know why the Zoom Webinars platform seemed to be different in this regard.
  6. Because of this problem, I had no way to speak to the Committee via the Zoom Webinar platform. I was unable to discover this until shortly before I was to make my deputation.
  7. I then tried to phone in using the Zoom phone numbers, which are provided in the City’s invitation to join the meeting as an alternative to joining via a computer. However, the Committee Clerk told me over the phone that one cannot use the Zoom Webinar phone numbers to speak to the Committee. Those phone numbers only let me listen to the Committee.
  8. What ended up happening as a last resort is that the Committee Clerk offered to have me speak by phone to his phone. He held his phone up to his computer for the Committee to hear.
  9. I was very upset and stressed by this, at the very time when I needed to remain calm and composed to make my deputation.
  10. A review of the recording of this meeting confirms that my voice was only audible during part of my deputation. I was not aware as I spoke that my voice was cutting in and out at points. This precluded the Committee from hearing some key points I was making.
  11. I only learned about this problem after I finished deliberating my deputation. After I finished speaking, one Committee member whom, I believe, was Eli El-Chantiry, stated that they could not hear much of my presentation and that they felt bad about this.
  12. Upset, I immediately asked the Committee for another chance to make my deputation under circumstances where I can be assured that they heard it all. This in fact was the second time at this meeting I had raised a concern about the accessibility of the platform they were using for the meeting. At the start of my deputation, I alerted them that I could not speak to them via the Zoom webinars meeting. I asked the Committee at that earlier point to defer this e-scooter agenda item to a future meeting, both because of the problem regarding the accessibility of the City’s e-scooter documents (described above) and because of the fact that I had been unable to use Zoom Webinar to speak to their meeting.
  13. On learning that the Committee had been unable to hear parts of my deputation, I explained that unlike Zoom Webinar, I am experienced with Zoom Meetings and know how very accessible it is. I indicated in substance that this is unfair to me, especially on an issue which itself bears on safety and accessibility for people with disabilities.
  14. I was not allowed to make my deputation again, via a means that ensured that the Committee could hear my entire deputation. All that was done in response to my expressed concerns on this issue was for the Committee Chair to confirm with City staff that they had used this Zoom platform for earlier meetings with another committee. While short forms were used to describe that other committee, I believe it was an accessibility committee. The Committee chair concluded his response to my request by saying:

“David, just to be very clear, I’ve confirmed with the Clerks, it’s the exact same platform we use for ACC. So, we will bring this up to staff during staff questioning the end to ensure that there is compliance and standardization across the board….”

  1. The Chair also confirmed with City staff that our brief was available to Committee members.
  2. The fact that the Committee or others at the City have previously used the Zoom platform, whether this one or any other, was no answer to my accommodation request. I had reported a disability barrier to the Committee. It had adversely affected my ability to communicate effectively with the Committee. The Committee knew these facts and did not dispute them. I requested an accommodation. It was not provided.
  3. After this, while the Committee was still proceeding on this agenda item, I phoned the Committee Clerk Mr. Zwierzchowski again to offer a solution. I told him my wife (who is sighted) was then available. If I could be sent another invitation via Zoom Webinar to take part, she could see and click the button even if it is inaccessible to me.
  4. The Committee Clerk Mr. Zwierzchowski told me that the Committee Chair had already decided that I had had a chance to speak to the Committee and that I would not be given another chance to do so. I asked him to pass along my request. My recollection is that he was agreeable to do so, but from his words and tone of voice, I was not optimistic that this would produce any better response from the Committee Chair. I quickly sent Mr. Zwierzchowski an email stating:

” As discussed, I encountered accessibility problems that precluded me speaking to the Committee via Zoom webinar. My wife, who is sighted, could help me click on your inaccessible prompt if I could speak now or later today. I am available from now on. You said you would raise it with the Chair but the Chair had earlier said I would not be given another chance to speak. Please let me know if the Chair is agreeable now, now that I have a sighted person who can assist.”

  1. I was given no further chance to speak to the Committee. The Committee heard the rest of the deputations and then discussed and voted. As noted earlier, it voted to approve a third pilot with e-scooters, subject to some variations which are utterly insufficient to address our disability concerns. I understand that the e-scooters issue now proceeds to Ottawa City Council on March 23, 2022. From our perspective on the merits of the e-scooters issue, it would have been far better had it proceeded with a “no” vote from the Transportation Committee, rather than a “yes” vote.
  2. On March 7, 2022, I received an email from CHRISTOPHER ZWIERZCHOWSKI, which corroborates almost all key facts that underpin my complaint. It states:

” Good afternoon Mr. Lepofsky –

Re:  Transportation Committee meeting of Wednesday, 2 March 2022 – Difficulty connecting to meeting via Zoom Webinar

I am following up on your e-mails from Wednesday evening following your delegation at Transportation Committee.

On behalf of the Office of the City Clerk, please accept our sincerest apologies for the technical challenges with the above meeting, especially as it relates to the difficulties you experienced in connecting to the meeting via Zoom Webinar.

You raised an issue of which we had previously been unaware, and we thank you for bringing it to our attention.

We have been using Zoom webinar for Standing and Advisory Committee (including the Accessibility Advisory Committee) meetings since May of 2020 and were not aware of the potential issues for some users. We have used the Zoom webinar (as opposed to Zoom meeting), and implemented the requirement for a passcode to join for Standing Committee meetings, on the advice of our IT security staff, given how widely the attendee link may be distributed for these meetings and the potential for the risk of being overtaken by anyone with malicious intent.

A preliminary review has led us to believe that the passcode requirement is potentially what led to your difficulties later; however, should you wish to share any more detail about what you experienced we would welcome that additional feedback.

We are liaising with the City’s Accessibility Office to improve our practices with a view to removing this requirement for delegations for whom it is a barrier for participation, allowing them to bypass the attendee waiting room, and to ensure our communications to delegations are clear in this regard.

With regard to the Transportation Committee meeting yesterday, at the time, the best solution we could manage, was to have you speak, via the Coordinator’s cell phone, into his laptop microphone, as we were not sure what other options were feasible to accommodate your participation. While not an ideal solution, as there were intermittent connection issues (e.g. choppiness), the Committee was able to hear most of your presentation. Furthermore, the written submission you provided, which was received by our office on Tuesday, 1 March 2022 was provided to all Members of the Committee and Council and staff to access, along with the other written submissions received for this meeting.

Your comments will be on the public record noted in the Minutes. Finally, should you wish to provide additional written comments before this matter is considered by full City Council on March 23, 2022, you are most welcome to do so – any comments received on this matter after the meeting of the Transportation Committee will still be shared with Members of Council prior to Council’s consideration of this matter at its next meeting (Wednesday, 23 March 2022, at 10:00 a.m.)

Please do not hesitate to contact our office should you wish to discuss the foregoing or should you have any other questions.

Kind regards,

CHRISTOPHER ZWIERZCHOWSKI

STANDING COMMITTEE COORDINATOR

OFFICE OF THE CITY CLERK, COUNCIL & COMMITTEE SERVICES

CITY OF OTTAWA, 110 LAURIER AVE. W., OTTAWA, ON K1P 1J1

COORDONNATEUR DES COMITÉS PERMANENTS

BUREAU DU GREFFIER MUNICIPAL, SERVICES AU CONSEIL ET AUX COMITÉS

VILLE D’OTTAWA, 110, AVE. LAURIER O., OTTAWA (ONTARIO) K1P 1J1

TEL/TÉL:  (613) 580-2424, EXT./POSTE 21359

FAX/TÉLÉC: (613) 580-9609

EMAIL*/COURRIEL*: CHRISTOPHER.ZWIERZCHOWSKI@OTTAWA.CA

 

  1. I respectfully disagree with the thrust of two points in Mr. Zwierzchowski’s email:
  2. a) He stated that “… the Committee was able to hear most of your presentation.” However, as noted earlier, one Committee member said it was for him worse than that. Moreover, when I only have five minutes to speak, every sentence counts.
  3. b) The fact that Committee members had the AODA Alliances brief is no consolation. I have no confidence that they all read it between March 1, 2022, when we were able to submit it, and March 2, 2022 at 9:30 a.m., when the Transportation Committees very busy agenda began. Indeed, the same Committee member who said he could not hear much of my deputation did not know we had filed a brief. He would not realistically have had time to read it before the Committee was called on to vote that day on the e-scooters issue.
  4. As noted above, I do not ask the Integrity Commissioner to investigate the relative accessibility of the Zoom Webinars platform that Ottawa was then using, in comparison to any other platform. I only focus in this complaint on the erroneous way that the Transportation Committee Chair and Committee members acted when I twice alerted them to this problem on March 2, 2022, and when I twice asked for an accommodation as a result of the digital barrier that I had encountered.

 F. The Duty to Accommodate People with Disabilities – The Core Basis of This Complaint

 

  1. Alone or in combination, these failures to accommodate constitute a very disrespectful and discriminatory way for elected officials to treat people with disabilities. It violates the duty to accommodate, which lies at the core of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the guarantee of equality to people with disabilities in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7 of the Code of Conduct incorporates this duty.
  2. The Committee members, including its Chair, cannot discharge their burden to show that it was impossible for them to do more to accommodate my disability in these circumstances. There is nothing so urgent with the proposal of a third e-scooter pilot that it necessitated the Committee in barreling ahead on March 2, 2022 despite these demonstrated disability barriers.
  3. This complaint is brought under the requirement in section 7 of Ottawa’s Code of Conduct. It requires members of Ottawa City Council not to engage in discrimination, including discrimination based on disability. My total blindness is unquestionably a disability within the meaning of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  4. At the core of the ban on disability discrimination in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and correspondingly, section 7 of Ottawa’s Code of Conduct is the duty to accommodate a person’s disability-related needs up to the point of undue hardship. I am very familiar with this law. I have taught judges, lawyers and law students about it. The Supreme Court of Canada has cited with approval a law journal article that I wrote on the topic. I have argued duty to accommodate cases in court and before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario on the topic of the duty to accommodate people with disabilities.
  5. As detailed above, I made two requests of the Transportation Committee Chair and Committee members during my March 2, 2022 deputation. These were disability-related requests to be accommodated, by adjourning the e-scooters topic to a later date (or by giving me another chance to speak to the Committee through an accessible means where the Committee could hear my entire deputation. Neither accommodation was provided.
  6. Making this worse, there was no effective effort to investigate alternative solutions before refusing this request, contrary to the “procedural duty to accommodate.” The Supreme Court of Canada incorporated the procedural duty to accommodate into Canadian law. It held in British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union (1999) 3 SCR 3 (quoting an article I had written:

“Notwithstanding the overlap between the two inquiries, it may often be useful as a practical matter to consider separately, first, the procedure, if any, which was adopted to assess the issue of accommodation and, second, the substantive content of either a more accommodating standard which was offered or alternatively the employer’s reasons for not offering any such standard: see generally Lepofsky, supra.”

  1. The Transportation Committee Chair and Committee members have the burden to prove that it was impossible for them to do anything more to accommodate my requests, after I made those requests, without undue hardship to the City of Ottawa. They are expected to take serious and substantial efforts to accommodate. They did not. For example:

a)The Committee Chair could have formally or informally raised with the Committee the request to defer the e-scooters topic to a future meeting. There was nothing urgent about deciding that issue on March 2, 2022. Had time been somehow of the essence, the Transportation Committee could have explored setting up an additional meeting a few days hence, to consider the e-scooters issue.

  1. b) When the Transportation Committee Chair did not raise this, any member of the Transportation Committee present could have formally raised a Point of Order (if permitted), or informally asked the Committee to consider my request for the e-scooters matter to be deferred to another date. No one did so. From the entire meeting as a whole, it was clear that these Committee members interact in a relaxed, informal and collegial way.
  2. c) The Transportation Committee could have considered hearing deputations from those deputants who did not need to receive the relevant documents in an accessible format. That would have made use of Committee time while only deferring, to a future day, deputations from those of us who needed them in an accessible format. Here again, neither the Committee Chair nor any member of the Committee then present raised or discuss this option.
  3. d) As for my second accommodation request, once I alerted the Committee of the need for me to be able to make my deputation through an accessible platform (which I twice requested, once at the start of my deputation and once at the end), so that the Committee would hear my entire presentation, there would be no undue hardship in the Committee Chair in asking City staff, such as the Clerk’s officials who helped manage the meeting logistics, to explore setting this up. When the Chair did not do so, it was open to any other members of the Committee then present to raise this for discussion. No one did so.
  4. e) Even if the Committee was determined to finish the e-scooters topic that day, it would not have caused the Committee or the City of Ottawa any hardship, much less an undue hardship, to allow me another five minutes to speak to the Committee.
  5. These accommodation requests were not rendered irrelevant due to the Committee’s ultimate vote. To the contrary, the Committee ended up voting for the position supported by the e-scooter corporate lobbyists, who got a full and fair hearing, and against the disability position that I and others were raising, after we did not get a full and fair hearing due to this failure to accommodate.
 G. What I Aim to Achieve By This Complaint

 

  1. My objective in this complaint is to achieve real public accountability for elected members of a City Council for their conduct which does not ensure that people with disabilities such as myself can fully, equally and fairly take part in the public deputation process of meetings of that City Council and their committees. A Committee Chair and other members of a City Council’s Committee should not give such short shrift to such simple requests for reasonable accommodation, and then simply barrel ahead to make a policy decision which they have been warned will endanger safety and accessibility of vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. If the Integrity Commissioner finds merit in this complaint, and makes a public finding that the Code of Conduct was contravened, this can provide an important signal to these members of Ottawa City Council, and to all others, that such conduct was wrong and should never be repeated. Only through the formal accountability that an Integrity Commissioner’s finding can provide is there a hope that something positive can emerge from the way I was treated on March 2, 2022. No one else should have to go through what I had to experience on March 2, 2022.
  2. I and the AODA Alliance are strictly non-partisan. We don’t support or oppose any party or candidate in any federal, provincial or municipal election.
  3. It is not sufficient for a member of City Council to simply say they are sorry, that they meant no harm, and that any disability barrier was unintentional. The disability barriers that we people with disabilities are typically created without any hostile motive or intention to discriminate. The Supreme Court of Canada made it clear that it is the impact of such conduct, and not the underlying intent, by which such conduct is judged.
  4. In this complaint, I ask that the Transportation Committee Chair and the Committee members who were present at this meeting be evaluated, taking account what they could have done in the face of my requests for disability accommodation. For example:
  5. a) The Committee Chair was in charge of steering the meeting, and had ample discretion to act. He could have responded to each of my requests for accommodation by engaging a discussion by the Committee at that time. He could have directed Committee staff to try to get me set up to speak to the Committee again later that afternoon through a means that would enable the Committee to hear my entire deputation, rather than refusing to allow this.
  6. b) When the other Committee members heard my requests to be accommodated, and saw that the Chair was not providing any such accommodation, any of them could have formally or informally asked the Committee to consider my requests. None did so.
  7. Discrimination is everyone’s business, according to our courts. I don’t want those who are the subject of this complaint to slough off responsibility, either on City staff or on other Committee members. Each could have done more than nothing.
  8. This Affidavit is made for the purpose of requesting that this matter be investigated and for no improper purpose.

Guest Column in Ottawa Area Newspaper Presses Ottawa City Council Not to Use Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors, and Others as Unwilling Guinea Pigs in a Third Pilot Project with Electric Scooters that Are Proven to Be Dangerous

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Guest Column in Ottawa Area Newspaper Presses Ottawa City Council Not to Use Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors, and Others as Unwilling Guinea Pigs in a Third Pilot Project with Electric Scooters that Are Proven to Be Dangerous

 

March 16, 2022

 

SUMMARY

 

On March 23, 2022, Ottawa City Council will decide whether it will use vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, and others as unwilling guinea pigs in a third pilot project with the silent menace of electric scooters. Both Ottawa City staff and the Ottawa Transportation Committee support the dangerous idea of uninsured, unlicensed, untrained joy-riders, silently racing at 20 KPH on e-scooters for which there are no national safety standards.

 

We are calling on Ottawa City Council to put an end to this. Below is a guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on March 11, 2022 in the Inside Ottawa Valley publication, operated by the Toronto Star. It explains why e-scooters endanger safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors, and others. Send it to as many people as you can.

 

If you live in Ottawa or might ever wish to visit Ottawa, we urge you to contact Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and the members of Ottawa City Council. Tell them to say no to e-scooters. Below we set out their names, email addresses and Twitter handles.

 

For more background, check out

The AODA Alliance’s March 1, 2022 brief to the Ottawa Transportation Committee.

The AODA Alliance’s March 7, 2022 letter to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and the members of Ottawa City Council, and

The AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page.

 

 

MORE DETAILS

 

 

Inside Ottawa Valley March 11, 2022

 

Originally posted at https://www.insideottawavalley.com/opinion-story/10587031-third-pilot-with-electric-scooters-should-not-go-ahead-in-ottawa/

OPINION

Third pilot with electric scooters should not go ahead in Ottawa

Vehicles endanger people with disabilities, seniors and children, writes David Lepofsky

David Lepofsky

 

Ottawa city council must not unleash a third pilot project with dangerous electric scooters.

 

The 2020 and 2021 Ottawa pilots produced overwhelming proof that e-scooters endangered people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. Other communities around Ottawa, watch out. The e-scooter corporate lobbyists may be coming to you next!

 

A silent menace, e-scooters, appearing out of nowhere, were ridden on sidewalks in Ottawa and other cities that ban them from sidewalks.

 

Uninsured, unlicensed, untrained, unhelmeted joyriders, racing at 20 kilometres per hour, endanger the safety of innocent pedestrians, especially those of us who can’t see them coming or quickly dodge them. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for us blind people, and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

 

Ottawa city staff, cheerleading for e-scooters and showing insufficient concern for disability barriers, parrot corporate lobbyists’ inflated sales pitch.

 

Ottawa’s city-appointed accessibility advisory committee strongly recommended that Ottawa not again allow e-scooters. Disability organizations and every speaker with disabilities presenting at council’s committees opposed e-scooters, fearing injuries. Montreal rejected e-scooters after a pilot. Despite a corporate lobbyists’ feeding frenzy, Toronto city council unanimously said no to e-scooters.

 

With Ottawa’s race to unleash them again, e-scooter corporate lobbyists will laugh all the way to the bank, while people with disabilities and others sob all the way to hospital. Despite these dangers, Ottawa’s transportation committee endorsed a third e-scooter pilot. E-scooter corporate lobbyists promise spiffy new technology on their e-scooters, to magically prevent these safety dangers. Don’t trust their bloated sales pitch!

 

It’s wrong to give city staff a blank check to green light a pilot if they like these unproven new gadgets. It’s wrong for Ottawa’s city staff and transportation committee to approve using Ottawa residents, including people with disabilities, seniors and others, as unwilling guinea pigs to test out corporate lobbyists’ sales pitch.

 

City council should just say no to e-scooters. It should tell city staff not to come back with a proposal until this promised technology has been independently proven to eliminate dangers to people with disabilities and others.

 

Want an example of city staff’s absurd solutions that marginalize our safety? They recommend that e-scooters have Braille contact information for reporting complaints. We blind people can’t read Braille on an e-scooter racing by on a sidewalk. If I trip over an e-scooter, abandoned on the sidewalk, I’m not about to grope around to see if there’s Braille on it. Ottawa staff advanced this recommendation even after we described its obvious absurdity.

 

Ottawa has too many barriers impeding people with disabilities. It shouldn’t knowingly create more, giving e-scooter corporate lobbyists an undeserved third kick at the can. Ottawa should stand up to these corporate lobbyists, and stand up for people with disabilities.

 

David Lepofsky is chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and visiting professor, Osgoode Hall Law School.

 

Contact Information for Ottawa’s Mayor and Members of Ottawa City Council

 

Jim Watson

Jim.Watson@ottawa.ca

@JimWatsonOttawa

 

Matthew Luloff

Matt.Luloff@ottawa.ca

@MatthewLuloff

 

Laura Dudas

Laura.Dudas@ottawa.ca

@Laura_Dudas

 

Jan Harder

Jan.Harder@ottawa.ca

@TeamJanHARDER

 

Cathy Curry

K.N@ottawa.ca

@cathycurry_88

 

Eli El-Chantiry

Eli.El-Chantiry@ottawa.ca

@Eli_ElChantiry

 

Glen Gower

Glen.Gower@ottawa.ca

@glengower

 

Theresa Kavanagh

BayWard@ottawa.ca

@tm_kavanagh

 

Rick Chiarelli

Rick.Chiarelli@ottawa.ca

@RickChiarelli

 

Keith Egli

Keith.Egli@ottawa.ca

@KeithEgli

 

Diane Deans

Diane.Deans@ottawa.ca

@dianedeans

 

Tim Tierney

Tim.Tierney@ottawa.ca

@TimTierney

 

Mathieu Fleury

Mathieu.Fleury@ottawa.ca

@MathieuFleury

 

Rawlson King

rideaurockcliffeward@ottawa.ca

@rawlsonking

 

Catherine McKenney

Catherine.Mckenney@ottawa.ca

@cmckenney

 

Jeff Leiper

Jeff.Leiper@ottawa.ca

@JLeiper

 

Riley Brockington

Riley.Brockington@ottawa.ca

@RiverWardRiley

 

Shawn Menard

capitalward@ottawa.ca

@ShawnMenard1

 

Jean Cloutier

Jean.Cloutier@ottawa.ca

@AltaVistaWard18

 

Catherine Kitts

Catherine.Kitts@ottawa.ca

@catherinekitts

 

George Darouze

George.Darouze@ottawa.ca

 

Scott Moffatt

Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca

@ScottMoffatt21

 

Carol Anne Meehan

Carolanne.Meehan@ottawa.ca

@MeehanCarolAnne

 

Allan Hubley

Allan.Hubley@ottawa.ca

@AllanHubley_23

 

 

Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee Gets Seriously Troubling Presentation on Electric Scooters by Brampton City Staff

          Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee Gets Seriously Troubling Presentation on Electric Scooters by Brampton City St૿

 

March 9, 2022

 

SUMMARY

 

On the evening of March 8, 2022, the Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee discussed the seriously problematic Brampton City staff’s proposal to allow e-scooters in that city. The AODA Alliance was one of the presenters who spoke at this virtual meeting in opposition to e-scooters.

 

We called on the Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee to recommend in the strongest terms that Brampton should not allow e-scooters. They endanger safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors, and others.

 

Below, we set out the Brampton City Staff report to the March 8, 2022 meeting of the Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee. We also set out the June 23, 2021 City Staff Report that Brampton City Council approved last year, and which recommended that Brampton conduct a pilot project with e-scooters.

 

What is especially stunning about the two reports that we include below, is that neither say a word about the proven twin dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities, seniors, and others.

 

  1. A silent menace, e-scooters, appearing out of nowhere, are ridden on sidewalks in cities that ban them from sidewalks. Uninsured, unlicensed, untrained, unhelmeted joy-riders, racing at 20 KPH, endanger the safety of innocent pedestrians, especially those who can’t see them coming or who can’t quickly dodge them.

 

  1. Often left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for us blind people, and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

 

The June 23, 2021 City Staff Report goes as far as to conclude that this has no financial or other implications for Brampton. This treats people with disabilities, and the injuries and losses they would suffer, as if they don’t exist.

 

How can Brampton’s City Staff Reports and Brampton City Council have ignored this? These concerns were the very reason why Toronto City Council unanimously voted not to allow e-scooters in Toronto. Last week, Ottawa’s Transportation Committee received ample proof that these twin dangers were created in Ottawa during two successive years of e-scooter pilots.

 

We have been very visible as raising disability issues with e-scooters around Ontario, including in the media. Yet Brampton and its City staff never reached out to us to find out anything about our concerns.

 

What Brampton City staff presented at the March 8, 2022 meeting of the Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee was extremely disturbing. It showed an ongoing marginalization of safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, and a one-sided acceptance of the sales pitch from the e-scooter corporate lobbyists. It was clear that Brampton City staff have spent a lot of time talking to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists. In contrast, they have not talked to us at all. Below we give more details.

 

On February 25, 2022, we wrote Brampton’s Mayor Patrick Brown and the Brampton City Council, calling on them to say no to e-scooters. We invite one and all to do the same. People in Brampton with disabilities deserve better than to have their needs, their safety, and their accessibility so blatantly ignored.

 

In the June 2 provincial election, we have called on political parties to agree to ban e-scooters from all municipalities in Ontario. We should not have to fight these battles in one municipality after the next. It is especially unfair that on the evening of March 8, 2022, both Brampton’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and the City of Mississauga were holding meetings on the topic of e-scooters at the same time. People with disabilities cannot be in two places at the same time to present, even virtually.

 

Brampton City Council members, like all other municipal politicians, have to be ready for this fall’s Ontario-wide municipal election. What politician wants a record of endangering people with disabilities, seniors, children, and others?

 

To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s efforts to protect people with disabilities from e-scooters, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

MORE DETAILS

 

A Seriously Wrong-Headed Disregard of Safety and Accessibility for People with Disabilities — What Brampton City Staff Had to Say at the March 8, 2022 Meeting of the Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee

 

Very troubling information was revealed at this meeting. It was clear that this was the first time that the City of Brampton had discussed the issue of e-scooters with the Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee. Since serious disability issues with e-scooters have been raised in so many other Ontario cities, it was incumbent on the City of Brampton to seek input from its own Accessibility Advisory Committee well before taking this issue to Brampton City Council for its approval. It is highly likely that last year, when Brampton City Council approved an e-scooter pilot, its members only knew about the e-scooter corporate lobbyists’ sale pitch, and not about serious disability concerns.

 

It gets worse. City staff told the Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee during this meeting that City Council has already approved an e-scooter pilot in Brampton, and staff’s job is to go about implementing it. The City staff’s message to the Accessibility Advisory Committee was as clear as it was troubling: Brampton is going ahead with a pilot, and the only issue that was really open for the Accessibility Advisory Committee’s discussion was how the pilot will be conducted.

 

This flies in the face of the entire mission of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Where a significant issue that affects safety and accessibility for people with disabilities arises, it is wrong for City staff to go to City Council and get directions to proceed, without alerting City Council to the disability safety and accessibility concerns. It compounds this serious error to then months later to tell the Accessibility Advisory Committee in effect that it is a done deal, since City Council has already approved that initiative.

 

It got even worse. City staff made a detailed oral presentation to the Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee about e-scooters. It was extremely one-sided, emphasizing their alleged benefits. The presentation virtually ignored the major disability issues that have been demonstrated in other cities. Had the presentation been made by the e-scooter corporate lobbyists, it would not have sounded any different.

 

The public expects a professional public service at any level of government to provide an objective and balanced assessment of any policy proposal being considered, including possible benefits and possible harms. On that score, Brampton City staff abjectly and miserably failed. All people in Brampton deserve better, including people with disabilities.

 

Could it get worse than that? In that presentation, City staff emphasized that its goals included such things as transportation equity, and making Brampton safer and more livable. In that regard, City staff presented e-scooters as having only benefits on those measures. They did not even consider much less address the demonstrated fact that e-scooters would undermine equity for people with disabilities, who already face too many barriers in any community in Ontario. They did not recognize that e-scooters have been proven to make a community less livable and more dangerous for many, including people with disabilities.

 

In response to deputations that evening such as that of the AODA Alliance that presented these dangers, Brampton City staff did not dispute these concerns, or present any proof that they had not materialized. Instead, they argued that Brampton should do a pilot with e-scooters because it is a different community than other cities like Toronto or Montreal.

 

Regrettably, the Accessibility Advisory Committee members were not in a position to point out that this argument is transparently absurd. In any community where e-scooters have been allowed, people ride them on sidewalks even though this is banned. There is no reason to think that the people living in or visiting Brampton are magically immune to the temptation to ride an e-scooter on sidewalks, especially when there is no effective law enforcement to stop them. In other cities that allow e-scooters, they are left dangerously strewn on sidewalks. Here again, there is no credible argument that people living in or visiting Brampton are similarly incapable of that conduct.

 

People with disabilities living in or visiting Brampton are just as prone to suffer injuries if struck by an e-scooter racing at 20 KPH, or if they go flying after tripping over an e-scooter, left on a Brampton sidewalk. In any case, Brampton should not use people with disabilities and others as unwilling guinea pigs to test out Brampton City staff’s human experiment, when their safety and accessibility is endangered.

 

The upshot of that meeting was that City staff will endeavour to arrange for an e-scooter rental company to do a demonstration of e-scooters for members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee. If that is to be meaningful, it should demonstrate how easy it is to ride an e-scooter on a sidewalk, and the dangers that poses to pedestrians, especially those with disabilities. They should also demonstrate the tripping hazard posed by an e-scooter left lying on the ground, and the way this can block mobility of a person using a wheelchair. That should be open to the public to attend, including people with disabilities and disability organizations. It should be recorded on video, and posted online.

 

It is noteworthy that Brampton City staff had earlier arranged for a demonstration of e-scooters for others, such as Brampton’s Cycling Committee. Here again, the fact that Brampton gave priority to getting input from others, but not from the Accessibility Advisory Committee, shows a worrisome devaluation of the safety and accessibility needs of people with disabilities.

 

That unacceptable theme was woven throughout this experience. It was perhaps most obvious when a senior City staff official said that while our issues raise concerns about accessibility, the e-scooters pilot proposal is looking at a broader perspective on accessibility. What that says to people with disabilities is that while e-scooters may endanger your accessibility, they will provide more transportation options for people who have a car, but who would rather ride an e-scooter. Brampton’s City Council should resoundingly reject that inequitable way of looking at people with disabilities, especially when it is presented as advocating for equity.

 

March 8, 2022, City of Brampton Staff Report to the Brampton Accessibility Advisory Committee

 

Micromobility Electric Scooter Pilot Presentation Overview

Accessibility Advisory Committee

March 8, 2022

 

  • Micromobility refers to a range of small, light weight devices operating typically below 25 km/hour and is ideal for trips up to 10 km.
  • A safe micromobility network provides equitable access to more places for more people.
  • Most people in cities do not own cars. Micromobility unlocks more city for more people
  • Microbility increases access to public transporation
  • Replacing cars for short trips
  • Electric devices make micromobility more attractive to people who may not use traditional 2 or 3 wheelers. E-micromobility expands the area riders can travel easily without a car.

 

Ontario NEWS RELEASE Summary

Ontario Announces E-Scooter Pilot to Help Grow Ontario’s Economy

E-scooter pilot will make it easier for people to get around

  • 5 year pilot
  • Start: January 1, 2020
  • Municipalities must pass by-law to permit/regulate
  • Max speed 24 km/hr
  • Max weight 45 kg
  • Operating age 16 years old
  • No passengers
  • No cargo
  • No baskets
  • Riders must be standing
  • Helmet required for under 18 years old
  • Must have a horn/bell
  • Must have lights on back and front

 

 

Principles behind Streets for People:

  • Create Safe and Accessible Streets
  • Promote Healthy and Active Living
  • Improve Transportation Choice and Balance Priorities
  • Develop Connected Networks
  • Respect Existing and Planned Context
  • Create Vibrant and beautiful Places
  • Enhance Economic Vitality
  • Improve Sustainability and Resiliency

 

Summary Of Committee of Council Report – June 23, 2021

 

THAT all necessary by-laws be enacted to permit and regulate the use of personal e-scooters in the City of Brampton in accordance with the Provincial Pilot (ON Reg. 389/19); and,

 

THAT staff be directed to develop a pilot to assess the uptake and impact of an e-bike/e-scooter share system in the City and report back to Council at a future committee meeting with details of the pilot.

 

 

How it works:

  • electric powered
  • riders push off with their feet to get going and to assist the scooter during steep incline
  • throttle provides acceleration
  • use app-based GPS tracking technology
  • speed are regulated

 

  • Length of Agreement: two years – one-year optional renewals for an additional three term.

 

  • Number of Operators/Scooters: three operators with a fleet of no less than 250 scooters and no more than 500 scooters.

 

  • Operating Speed: maximum speed of 20 km/h and will be “geo-fenced” to reduce speed to 15 m/h

 

 

  • Operating Areas: roads with posted speeds less than 60 km/hour, bike lanes, multi-use paths, and major and minor recreational trails. Electric scooters will not be permitted to operate on sidewalks.

 

  • Lock-Up Electric scooters: required to have a “locking” mechanism and will be required to be fastened to a rack or pole to ensure that they cannot be left anywhere.

 

  • Parking Management and Enforcement: operators will be required identify and implement electric scooter parking/docking areas.

 

 

Terms of Reference

  • Fleet Operations and Maintenance Plan
  • Staffing Plan
  • Geographic Area
  • Data Management, Sharing and Reporting
  • Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions Plan
  • Website, Smartphone Application and Open Application Interface Plan
  • Fleet Size and Operating Area Plan
  • Communication and Education Strategy
  • Vehicle Parking Plan and Right-of- Way Safety Plan
  • Vehicle and Equipment Safety Requirements
  • Insurance and Liability
  • Compliance, Security and Enforcement Plan
  • Fleet Expansion
  • Additional Infrastructure and Education Support

 

 

Questions:

  • Would you have concerns with sharing trail/path/road with an electric scooter?
  • Do you have any accessibility related concerns with the pilot?
  • If a demo day was provided, would the Committee be interested in attending?

 

City of Brampton’s June 23, 2021 Staff Report to Brampton City Council on Electric Scooters

 

Staff Report

The Corporation of the City of Brampton

2021-06-23

 

Subject: City of Brampton Micromobility (E-bike/E-Scooter) Pilot (All Wards)

Contact: Nelson Cadete, Project Manager, Active Transportation, Planning, Building and Economic Development Department

 

Report Number: Planning, Bld & Ec Dev-2021-686

 

Recommendations:

 

THAT the report from Nelson Cadete, Project Manager, Active Transportation, Transportation Planning, dated June 9, 2021, to the Committee of Council meeting of June 23, 2021, re: City of Brampton Micromobility (E-bike/E-Scooter) Pilot (All Wards) HF.x be received; and,

 

THAT all necessary by-laws be enacted to permit and regulate the use of personal e- scooters in the City of Brampton in accordance with the Provincial Pilot (ON Reg. 389/19); and,

 

THAT staff be directed to develop a pilot to assess the uptake and impact of an e-bike/e- scooter share system in the City and report back to Council at a future committee meeting with details of the pilot.

 

 

Background:

 

Micromobility is a travel mode used for short distance trips provided by lightweight, usually single-person vehicles, such as bicycles and scooters. More recently, micromobility systems have evolved to provide users with access to power assist vehicles such as pedal assist bikes (e-bikes) and electric kick-style scooters (e-scoters) to complete short trips in an urban setting and provide a “first and last mile” solution, connecting destinations to higher order transit systems.

 

While conventional bike share programs have existed for several years, new vehicle innovations such as e-scoooters and e-bikes, together with different ownership/operation models (for sharing programs) are presenting municipalities with a number of decisions to make when considering micromobility solutions to add to their menu of transportation options:

 

  • public or private ownership of the system;

 

  • vehicle types: bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, etc.;

 

  • docked station systems require that all vehicles be returned to a station (Hamilton and Toronto examples) or dockless where the vehicle can be left free standing (typically in a designated area) or locked to any bike rack or street furniture.

 

The consideration of micromobility in the City of Brampton is supported by Council- endorsed guiding principles (PDC019-2021) that are informing the Transportation Master Plan Review and Update. Micromobility provides an example of how the City can rethink the more conventional, auto-centric approach and tools utilized for transportation network planning. Public access to a fleet of shared, small and environmental friendly vehicles supports the multi-modal needs for city building and a more sustainable, green, attractive, healthy and safe city.

 

  • Enhance Mobility and Travel Options for People and Goods
  • Advance Multi-Modal Transportation Equity
  • Integrate Transportation and Land Use Planning
  • Protect Public Health and Safety
  • Improve Environmental Sustainability
  • Leverage Technology
  • Emphasize Community Engagement and Collaboration

 

On November 27, 2019, the Government of Ontario announced a 5-year e-scooter pilot (O. Reg. 389/19) that began on January 1, 2020, as part of the Open for Business Action Plan. Under the pilot, municipalities are able to pass local by-laws to allow e-scooters within municipal rights-of-way, along with other regulations which can be imposed on providers of shared e-scooter systems.

 

The Regulation for the pilot program stipulates various e-scooter vehicle and operator safety criteria which must be met. Municipal considerations mentioned in the Province’s guideline document are geared towards management of private e-scooter sharing systems which can now operate in Ontario under this pilot program. The Province’s Regulation and its guideline document are attached as Appendix 1 and Appendix 2.

 

In 2020, Scooty, a GTA-based micromobility company that provides e-scooters, conducted a number of demonstrations at Chinguacousy Park to introduce e-scooters to the public and to collect data on public perceptions and user experiences of this new transportation mode. The following results from the Scooty demonstration were provided at the September 23, 2020 Committee of Council meeting:

 

  • 2,000 km ridden in 8 days;
  • Data gathered from over 600 surveys;
  • Of those that participated in the survey:
  • 83% felt very safe riding the e-scooter;
  • 97% would ride along a trail or in a park again; and,

 

  • Most participants suggest that allowing people to ride on bike lanes and path/trails as the number one thing the City can do to make it easier for them to ride an e-scooter.

 

  • These results validate that there is an interest in the use of e-scooters in the City and potential support for a micromobility system.

 

Last year, City Council referred the Scooty delegation (including a request for a pilot trial) (C286-2020), as well as a delegation from Kevin Montgomery (Brampton Resident) regarding “Micromobility and the Broader Transportation Paradigm” (CW170-2020)back to staff for consideration.

 

 

Current Situation:

 

E-bikes are currently permitted to operate in the City, however, e-scooters require that a by-law be enacted to permit their use in the City. Highway Traffic Act, Ontario Regulation 389/19 requires that a municipality pass a by-law to:

 

  • allow e-scooter use on municipal roads during the 5-year pilot;
  • set the maximum speed limit to 24 km/h;
  • restrict the maximum weight of the vehicle at 45kg;
  • restrict the maximum power output of the vehicle at 500W;
  • set the minimum operator age limit at 16 years of age;
  • restrict passengers and cargo;
  • restrict baskets;
  • require riders to stand at all times;
  • require the use of bicycle helmets for riders under 18 years old;
  • restrict pedals or seats;
  • require that the vehicle has 2 wheels, brakes, a horn or bell, and one white light on front, one red light on rear and reflective material on sides;
  • restrict the maximum wheel diameter at 17 inches;
  • that all HTA rules of the road will apply to the operation of e-scooters like bicycles; and,
  • not allow e-scooters on controlled access highways.

 

City staff are recommending that Council direct staff to enact all the necessary by-laws to permit and regulate the use of personal e-scooters in the City of Brampton. An Administrative Update to the Traffic By-law Report facilitating these amendments will be submitted to a subsequent meeting. From a consistency and ease of enforcement perspective, City staff are recommending that proposed changes are consistent with the changes enacted in Mississauga.

 

In addition to the provisions outlined above, per the Provincial Regulation, the City by-law will also include the following provisions to regulate where e-scooters can be operated:

 

  • permitted on multi-use paths and bicycle lanes;
  • permitted on roads that are posted at 50 km/hour or less;
  • prohibited on sidewalks or on any roadway that also prohibits pedestrians an/or bicycles; and,
  • permitted on recreational trails and park paths (Parks By-law).

 

In anticipation of the by-law changes and the introduction of this new vehicle type in the City, staff will prepare communication collateral to inform the public of the aforementioned requirements and regulations.

 

In order to assess the potential impacts and uptake of a shared e-bike/escooter system in the City of Brampton, staff are recommending that interested vendors be invited to participate in a pilot trial through a competitive procurement process. The proposed pilot could:

 

  • define geographical test areas in the City where the shared service would be permitted;
  • limit the number of vehicles permitted within a test area;
  • limit the time of day that the vehicles are permitted to operate;
  • collect data relating to vehicle usage/maintenance/incidents;
  • help to inform a future permit or license process;
  • identify operating/maintenance requirements (City and operator);
  • test the individual vehicle and system features in the City under a live “environment”; and,
  • assess parking/storage issues.

 

Staff will develop terms of reference for the pilot trial and present them to Council for approval in Q3 2021, prior to commencing a procurement process.

 

Corporate Implications:

 

Financial Implications:

 

There are no financial implications directly associated with this report. Any future financial implications will be discussed in a forthcoming recommendation report to Council, pending Council approval.

 

Other Implications:

 

There are no other implications directly associated with this report

 

Term of Council Priorities:

 

This report directly supports the ‘Active Transportation Action Plan’ Term of Council priority. One of the programing recommendation from the City’s Active Transportation Master Plan is to work with regional partners and other GTHA municipalities to roll out a regional bike share program.

 

Conclusion:

 

Micromobility is an example of how the City can rethink the more conventional, auto- centric approach and tools utilized for network planning.

 

City staff are recommending that Council direct staff to enact all the necessary by-laws to permit and regulate the use of personal e-scooters in the City of Brampton. An Administrative Update to the Traffic By-law Report facilitating these amendments will be submitted to a subsequent meeting. From a consistency and ease of enforcement perspective, City staff are recommending that proposed changes are consistent with the changes enacted in Mississauga.

 

An e-bike/e-scooter share pilot program will allow staff to assess the performance and operation of a micromobility system under a test environment and gather data to support recommendations for a permanent solution.

 

 

Authored by: Nelson Cadete

Project Manager, Active Transportation Planning, Building and Economic Development

Reviewed by Henrik Zbogar, MCIP, RPP, Sr. Manager Transportation Planning, Planning, Building and Economic Development

Approved by:  Richard Forward, MBA, M.Sc., P.Eng. Commissioner, Planning, Building and Economic Development

Submitted by: David Barrick Chief Administrative Officer

 

Tell Ottawa City Council Not to Use People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others as Unwilling Guinea Pigs in the Dangerous Third Pilot Project with E-Scooters that Ottawa City Staff Proposes

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Tell Ottawa City Council Not to Use People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others as Unwilling Guinea Pigs in the Dangerous Third Pilot Project with E-Scooters that Ottawa City Staff Proposes

 

March 7, 2022

 

SUMMARY

 

Please contact Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and the members of Ottawa City Council as soon as possible. Tell them not to approve a third pilot project this year with e-scooters. Two years of endangering people with disabilities, seniors, children, and others was more than enough.

 

We need you to do this if you live in Ottawa, or if you ever plan to visit Ottawa! Ottawa City staff have given short shrift to serious disability concerns with e-scooters in a report that recommends this third pilot project with e-scooters. That Ottawa City Staff Report reads as if it could as easily have been written by the corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies.

 

We have written Ottawa’s mayor and City Council to explain why they should reject this proposal. Our letter shows why it was wrong and unfair for Ottawa City Council’s Transportation Committee to support the proposed third pilot, with only minor changes that won’t ensure safety or accessibility for people with disabilities. You can read that letter below. Please circulate it widely, post it on social media, and send it to conventional media.

 

It is bad enough that Ottawa’s Transportation Committee did not reject the proposed third pilot with e-scooters. Even worse, it did so at a March 2, 2022, meeting which had unfair disability barriers that impeded the AODA Alliance from full and equal participation. Our letter, set out below, explains this inexcusable conduct.

 

The names and email addresses for Ottawa’s mayor and all members of Ottawa City Council are included at the start of the AODA Alliance’s letter to them, set out below.

 

To learn more about the battle across Ontario to protect people with disabilities, seniors, and others from the dangers posed by e-scooters, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page.

 

MORE DETAILS

 

Text of the AODA Alliance’s March 6, 2022, Letter to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa 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/

 

March 6, 2022

 

Via Email

To: The Mayor and City Council of Ottawa

 

Jim Watson

Jim.Watson@ottawa.ca

 

Matthew Luloff

Matt.Luloff@ottawa.ca

 

Laura Dudas

Laura.Dudas@ottawa.ca

 

Jan Harder

Jan.Harder@ottawa.ca

 

Cathy Curry

K.N@ottawa.ca

 

Eli El-Chantiry

Eli.El-Chantiry@ottawa.ca

 

Glen Gower

Glen.Gower@ottawa.ca

 

Theresa Kavanagh

BayWard@ottawa.ca

 

Rick Chiarelli

Rick.Chiarelli@ottawa.ca

 

Keith Egli

Keith.Egli@ottawa.ca

 

Diane Deans

Diane.Deans@ottawa.ca

 

Tim Tierney

Tim.Tierney@ottawa.ca

 

Mathieu Fleury

Mathieu.Fleury@ottawa.ca

 

Rawlson King

rideaurockcliffeward@ottawa.ca

 

Catherine McKenney

Catherine.Mckenney@ottawa.ca

 

Jeff Leiper

Jeff.Leiper@ottawa.ca

 

Riley Brockington

Riley.Brockington@ottawa.ca

 

Shawn Menard

capitalward@ottawa.ca

 

Jean Cloutier

Jean.Cloutier@ottawa.ca

 

Catherine Kitts

Catherine.Kitts@ottawa.ca

 

George Darouze

George.Darouze@ottawa.ca

 

Scott Moffatt

Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca

 

Carol Anne Meehan

Carolanne.Meehan@ottawa.ca

 

Allan Hubley

Allan.Hubley@ottawa.ca

 

 

Dear Mayor Watson and Members of Ottawa City Council,

 

Re: Protecting People with Disabilities in Ottawa from Dangers of Electric Scooters

 

Please reject the proposal by an Ottawa City Staff Report, and by Ottawa’s Transportation Committee, that Ottawa conduct a third pilot this year with electric scooters. Stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists. Stand up for people with disabilities in Ottawa.
Don’t use people with disabilities, seniors, and others as unwilling guinea pigs.

 

Ottawa should not again endanger safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors, children, and others by allowing e-scooters. Ottawa has overwhelming proof that during the first two pilots with e-scooters in 2020 and 2021, e-scooters created serious twin dangers to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors, children, and others.

 

First, e-scooters were ridden on sidewalks even though it was prohibited. The silent menace of an uninsured, unlicensed, untrained, e-scooter joy-rider racing at 20 KPH endangered pedestrians with disabilities, seniors, and others. Second, e-scooters were abandoned on public sidewalks. This created a tripping hazard for blind people and a barrier to mobility for people using wheelchairs.

 

Before Ottawa embarked on its first pilot in 2020, we warned the Mayor’s office about these very dangers which had occurred when e-scooters were allowed in other cities. Our advice was ignored. Therefore, for two years, innocent pedestrians in Ottawa suffered from these twin dangers. They should not have to face them again this year.

 

Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee strongly recommended that no third e-scooter pilot be conducted. This parallels advice by Toronto’s, Hamilton’s, Mississauga’s, and London’s Accessibility Advisory Committees. Ottawa City staff and the Ottawa Transportation Committee wrongly rejected that advice. Given the many disability barriers people with disabilities continue to face in Ottawa and the proven twin dangers of e-scooters, this wise advice from the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee deserves far more respect.

 

The Ottawa City Staff Report on e-scooters documents that a stunning 83% of people responding to a City survey reported problems with mis-parked e-scooters. 79% of respondents reported problems with e-scooters being ridden on sidewalks. The vast majority of survey respondents who observed these dangerous situations did not report them. This left the City unaware of them, and unable to fix them.

 

Does Ottawa need more proof? Deputants with disabilities to the Ottawa Transportation Committee and the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee consistently reported these twin dangers. Feedback to a CNIB Ottawa virtual town hall last fall corroborated these twin dangers. Members of Ottawa’s Transportation Committee remarked at its March 2, 2022, meeting that they got calls daily from the public with e-scooter complaints.

 

In the face of these facts, how can Ottawa allow a third pilot? The proposed third pilot will not ensure elimination of those proven dangers.

 

Ottawa City staff’s deeply flawed solution is to buy into the e-scooter corporate lobbyists’ claims, that after two years of creating these twin dangers, they are suddenly now ready to deploy spiffy new e-scooters with zippy better technology. The AODA Alliance’s detailed March 1, 2022 brief to the Ottawa Transportation Committee showed in detail that the new safeguards that the Ottawa City Staff Report proposes are palpably inadequate and unproven.

 

This is not the first time we have heard dubious over-inflated sales pitches from these e-scooter corporate lobbyists. They have had two ample chances to get it right in Ottawa and in other cities where they operate, having known full well for years about their product’s twin dangers for people with disabilities.

 

Ottawa City Council should not rely on that sales pitch for a third kick at the can, given the safety and accessibility dangers that those corporate lobbyists have already created. People with disabilities and others in Ottawa should not be used as unwilling guinea pigs to test out their new e-scooters.

 

Please reject the City Staff proposal that City Council give City staff wide discretion to approve a third pilot on vague terms that don’t ensure public safety and disability accessibility. Instead, if City Council wants to proceed any further with e-scooters despite their proven dangers, Council should direct City staff to study this issue further, and to bring it back to Council if they have actual solid proof that the twin e-scooter dangers have been eliminated. They should do so without subjecting people with disabilities to being involuntary guinea pigs in the process.

 

We cannot simply leave this to Ottawa City staff, and trust them to get it right, when our safety and accessibility is at stake. This is the same Ottawa Public Service that recommended the two past pilot projects that created this danger, that used the public, including people with disabilities, as unwilling guinea pigs, and that recommend a third pilot contrary to the evidence and the strong recommendation from the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee. At the Ottawa Transportation Committee meeting on March 2, 2022, Ottawa staff wrongly downplayed the danger to people with disabilities of e-scooters being ridden on sidewalks, by saying that the prime concern is mis-parked scooters. Sidewalk riding is as much an issue and should not be minimized.

 

Making this worse, we suffered from unfair accessibility barriers at the March 2, 2022, Ottawa Transportation Committee meeting where e-scooters were voted on. People with disabilities were not effectively accommodated at that meeting. The City knew in advance of the strong interest in this topic by people with disabilities. Despite this, during the week before that meeting, the Ottawa City Staff Report and its supporting documents were publicly posted in an inaccessible format.

 

We only belatedly got all this documentation in an accessible format late on March 1, on the eve of the Transportation Committee meeting. We asked the Committee to defer e-scooters to a future meeting, so we would have time to read all those documents before making deputations. The Committee did not do so. Unlike us, e-scooter corporate lobbyists at the Transportation Committee meeting could read all those documents in advance, some of which they wrote.

 

We also encountered accessibility problems with the Transportation Committee’s online meeting platform. These impeded the Committee from being able to hear my full deputation. At the last minute, I had to make my deputation over the phone to the Committee Clerk, who held his phone up to his computer microphone. The sound cut in and out.

 

One Council member stated they could not hear parts of my deputation. I asked to be able to present again by means that enabled the Committee to hear my entire deputation. I was not given that opportunity. The Committee simply forged ahead, and ultimately voted against our position regarding e-scooters.

 

This fundamentally unfair treatment flies in the face of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This is especially unfair when safety and accessibility for people with disabilities was at stake in the e-scooter issue before the Committee.

 

Please reject the Ottawa City Staff Report. Direct City staff to come back only if or when they can present solutions that have been proven to work, and only after substantial additional consultations with people with disabilities, including the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee.

 

Sincerely,

 

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont

Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Twitter: @davidlepofsky

 

 

 

 

Disability Advocates to Tell Ottawa’s Transportation Committee Today Not to Allow E- Scooters – A Wrong-headed City Staff Report Endangers Safety and Accessibility for People with Disabilities, Seniors, and Others

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Disability Advocates to Tell Ottawa’s Transportation Committee Today Not to Allow E- Scooters – A Wrong-headed City Staff Report Endangers Safety and Accessibility for People with Disabilities, Seniors, and Others

 

March 2, 2022 Toronto: Today starting at 9:30 am, disability advocates will urge the City of Ottawa Transportation Committee to reject a wrong-headed City Staff Report that would endanger safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors, children, and others. City staff recommend that Ottawa conduct a third pilot project with electric scooters this year, even though the pilots in 2020 and 2021 created safety and accessibility dangers for these vulnerable populations.

The AODA Alliance will make a deputation to the Committee. The Committee meeting is live-streamed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUR3i_hvk3-3i8vtrPg6v1Q

The AODA’s detailed brief to the City shows that e-scooters, improperly racing at 20 KPH on sidewalks by uninsured, unlicensed, and untrained joy-riders are a silent menace to people with disabilities and others. E-scooters left strewn on sidewalks are a dangerous tripping hazard for blind people, and an accessibility barrier for people using a wheelchair.

“Ottawa’s City Staff Report shows that e-scooters posed these dangers to people with disabilities over the past two years, and then proposes inadequate measures that won’t eliminate those dangers,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance, which has campaigned against e-scooters around Ontario. “As an absurd example, City Staff propose that Braille contact information be installed on e-scooters. As a blind person, I am not going to chase after an e-scooter, racing along the sidewalk, hoping I’ll find braille on it. When I trip over one on the sidewalk, I’m not going to grope around to feel if it has braille information on it.”

The City Staff Report wrongly rejected, without explanation, the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee’s strong recommendation that e-scooters be banned. The Report reads as if it were written by corporate lobbyists for e-scooter companies, who will rake it in if Ottawa approves a third pilot.

“Ottawa gave well-funded e-scooter companies full years to prove that their product won’t endanger people with disabilities and others,” said Lepofsky. “Enough is enough. It’s time for Ottawa City Council to stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists and stand up for people with disabilities.”

 

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

For more background, visit the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page.

AODA Alliance Brief Urges City of Ottawa’s Transportation Committee to Reject Wrong-Headed City Staff Proposal to Hold Third Pilot Project with Electric Scooters – Dangers Proven to People with Disabilities During First Two Pilots Are Enough to Say No to a Third Pilot

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

AODA Alliance Brief Urges City of Ottawa’s Transportation Committee to Reject Wrong-Headed City Staff Proposal to Hold Third Pilot Project with Electric Scooters – Dangers Proven to People with Disabilities During First Two Pilots Are Enough to Say No to a Third Pilot

 

March 1, 2022

 

SUMMARY

 

It is hard to believe, but Ottawa City Staff have recommended that Ottawa unleash e-scooters on the public for a third year, even though they presented a proven danger to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors, and others during each of the past two years. We’re not taking this lying down!

 

Below is a detailed brief that we have just submitted to Ottawa’s Transportation Committee. We urge Ottawa City Council to say no to e-scooters. Enough is enough.

 

Ottawa’s Transportation Committee will be holding a virtual meeting to discuss this tomorrow, March 2, 2022, starting at 9:30 a.m. The AODA Alliance will make a deputation to the Committee. You can watch it live on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUR3i_hvk3-3i8vtrPg6v1Q

 

Our brief, set out below, shows that e-scooters have been proven to cause the very dangers that we forewarned Ottawa’s mayor about two and a half years ago. Ottawa City staff admit that this has been a problem. Despite this, Ottawa City staff wrongly recommend that Ottawa approve a third pilot project.

 

They propose measures to supposedly increase protections for the public. Our brief shows that these new measures are far too little and far too late.

 

Our brief shows that the Ottawa City Staff gives lip service to disability concerns, but ultimately marginalizes them. You have to read far, far into this lengthy City Staff Report to discover, buried deep into the Report’s second half, that Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee recommends against the very position that Ottawa City staff presents to Ottawa City Council. It is obvious that many readers won’t read that far into the Ottawa City Staff Report.

 

In the end, the Ottawa City Staff Report reads like it was written by the e-scooter corporate lobbyists. We call on Ottawa City Council to stand up to those corporate lobbyists and to stand up for people with disabilities.

 

We urge you to contact Ottawa City Council. Tell them if you endorse the AODA Alliance’s March 1, 2022, brief to Ottawa on e-scooters, set out below. Press them to say no to e-scooters. Two pilots were enough. Even if you don’t live in Ottawa, but might want to visit Ottawa, your views matter.

 

We would not have to be fighting this unfair battle against e-scooter lobbyists in one city after the next had it not been for the Ford Government itself ignoring disability concerns, and siding with the e-scooter corporate lobbyists. Two years ago, at the e-scooter corporate lobbyists’ behest, the Ford Government gave every Ontario municipality the power to allow e-scooters. In the June 2022 Ontario election, we are asking all political parties to repeal that Ford Government measure, so that e-scooters are banned across Ontario. In the fall Ontario municipal elections, we will urge voters to press municipal candidates to pledge not to support e-scooters in their communities. People with disabilities deserve nothing less.

 

If you want to learn more about the danger that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities, seniors, and others, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

We welcome your feedback to us, too! Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

MORE DETAILS

AODA Alliance’s March 1, 2022 Brief to the City of Ottawa Transportation Committee

 

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Say No to Electric Scooters – The City of Ottawa Should Stand Up for People with Disabilities in Ottawa, and Stand Up to the E-Scooter Corporate Lobbyists

 

AODA Alliance’s Brief to the Ottawa City Council Transportation Committee

 

Submitted to the City of Ottawa Transportation Committee

Via email: Christopher.Zwierzchowski@ottawa.ca

 

March 1, 2022

 

 1. Overview and Summary

 

We urge Ottawa City Council to reject the Ottawa City Staff proposal to conduct a third pilot with e-scooters. Innocent pedestrians with disabilities, seniors, children and others who visit or live in Ottawa should not have to fear the silent menace of an uninsured, unlicensed, untrained, unhelmeted joy rider undetectably racing towards them at 20 kph or abandoning their e-scooter on a sidewalk.

 

These dangers, again proven during two Ottawa pilots with e-scooters, were more than enough to show that e-scooters are a menace. What City staff wrongly proposes is a third human experiment with e-scooters this year, using Ottawa’s residents and visitors as non-consenting human guinea pigs.

 

The Ottawa City Staff e-Scooters Report argues the very same position advocated by e-scooter corporate lobbyists. It fails to properly protect people with disabilities, seniors and others who are endangered by e-scooters.

 

Ottawa City Council should stand up for people with disabilities. It should stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists. It should send this issue back to City staff for much more extensive study and for a new report that effectively protects the safety and accessibility needs of people with disabilities, seniors and others.

 

The Ottawa City Staff e-Scooters Report is written in a way that clearly downplays the danger to people with disabilities, seniors and others that e-scooters pose. It is clear from the Report as a whole that Ottawa City staff are taken with e-scooters. Their Report devotes much attention to the supposed benefits of e-scooters and the statistics on e-scooter rides. The danger they pose for people with disabilities, seniors and others is mentioned, but largely left to far later in the long report. Many readers may never reach that point in the narrative.

 

What this lengthy report never does is to explain why Ottawa should continue to allow e-scooters, with all their dangers for people with disabilities, seniors and others, when after two years of effort, no effective strategy or technology has been found, deployed and proven successful to eliminate the known dangers to people with disabilities, seniors and others. This is the most obvious and most important issue. Implicit in the Report’s failure to do so is a marginalization and de-prioritizing of the safety and accessibility needs of people with disabilities, seniors and others.

 

Ottawa already has too many barriers impeding people with disabilities, apart from e-scooters. It cannot afford to make things even worse by again allowing e-scooters. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires Ottawa to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, less than three years from now. Ottawa is well behind in meeting that goal. Allowing a third e-scooter pilot would make that even worse.

 

2. The Debate is Over – e-Scooters Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others

 

The February 2022 Ottawa City Staff e-Scooters Report amply documents that e-scooters create a real danger to the safety of people with disabilities, seniors and others. It also documents that e-scooters create new accessibility barriers for people with disabilities, such as people with vision loss and people with mobility disabilities.

 

The Report shows how these dangers to pedestrians are especially created by people who ride an e-scooter on a sidewalk, even though sidewalk riding is forbidden. Danger to them is also created when a rider leaves an e-scooter on the sidewalk, in the path of travel. An abandoned e-scooter becomes a tripping hazard and a barrier to mobility for people with mobility disabilities.

 

It is beyond dispute that e-scooters created these twin dangers during Ottawa’s two pilots with e-scooters, in 2020 and 2021. The Report documents these dangers in:

  • A strong February 1, 2022, recommendation to Ottawa City Council by Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, which insists that a third pilot with e-scooters not be held. The Accessibility Advisory Committee based its recommendations on input from the public.

 

  • The results of a survey that Ottawa City staff conducted.

 

  • Complaints received during the 2020 and 2021 Ottawa e-scooter pilots.

 

  • Feedback from Ottawa City staff’s accessibility consultation group.

 

  • Written submissions from the CNIB, based on a virtual town hall it held on e-scooters.

 

  • Input from members of Ottawa City Council.

 

  • Feedback that Ottawa City staff received from the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. The AODA Alliance is a widely recognized non-partisan volunteer coalition that advocates for accessibility for people with disabilities. Our efforts across Ontario on this issue are documented on the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

The Ottawa City Staff Report did not cite any source or study that purported to dispute that these dangers to people with disabilities, seniors and others were in fact created during the two Ottawa e-scooter pilots. The Ottawa City Staff Report confirms that the concerns with public safety and disability accessibility arising out of riding e-scooters on sidewalks and out of improperly parked (i.e., abandoned) e-scooters are the top unresolved problems that need to be addressed.

 

The levels of complaints about e-scooters reported in the Ottawa City Staff Report unquestionably understate the problem. It reports on levels of complaints received. That unfairly burdens people with disabilities, seniors and others with an expectation to report the dangers they faced. Unquestionably, many members of the public would not even know of this need, or how to do this. In the midst of a distressing pandemic, people have much to contend with beyond reporting e-scooter violations.

 

Moreover, the Report depends in part on complaints that the e-scooter companies themselves disclosed as having received. Here, as in many other contexts, the e-scooter companies are in a serious conflict of interest.

 

During the past two Ottawa pilots, the City left it to e-scooter companies to handle a proportion of the actual incoming complaints. Thus, the City is dependent on the e-scooter companies for key data on which its report relies. There is no indication that any of those data were independently verified, given the e-scooter companies’ conflict of interest.

 

Beyond the Ottawa City Staff Report, further reinforcing the existence of these dangers is the experience in other cities where e-scooters have been allowed. Toronto City staff submitted two excellent objective and detailed reports to Toronto City Council that document those problems, the 2020 Toronto City Staff Report and the 2021 Toronto City Staff Report.

 

The Ottawa City Staff Report does not address those thorough Toronto reports in Its lengthy discussion. It is deeply troubling that Ottawa City staff responsible for the e-scooter pilot had not obtained those reports last fall. They are by far the most thorough review of e-scooter information that we have seen by any Ontario municipality. The AODA Alliance had to alert Ottawa City staff to those reports and provide them. Those Toronto reports have been available to the public online since they were submitted to Toronto City Council.

 

As well, in addition to Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, the Accessibility Advisory Committees of Toronto, Hamilton, Mississauga and London have strongly recommended against allowing any e-scooters. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires every city with at least 10,000 residents to establish an Accessibility Advisory Committee, specifically in order to alert a municipality to disability accessibility issues. E-scooters are a prime example of this. For Ottawa to proceed to create disability barriers contrary to the strong advice of its own Accessibility Advisory Committee implicates serious concerns under the AODA, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights.

 

Over two years ago, on January 22, 2020, fully eleven major disability organizations released an open letter to all city councils and to the Ontario Government. It urged that e-scooters not be permitted due to the dangers they present for people with disabilities, seniors and others.

It is of great significance that on the eve of Ottawa City Council’s 2020 vote that allowed the first e-scooter pilot to be conducted, the AODA Alliance warned the office of Ottawa’s mayor of these very dangers. Ottawa’s mayor proceeded to support e-scooters despite this warning. What has been experienced in Ottawa since then proves that our warning was correct.

 

 3. The Only Solution – Don’t Allow E-Scooters in Public Places in Ottawa

 

The overwhelmingly obvious solution, and indeed the only solution for Ottawa, is not to allow e-scooters in a third pilot project. This is so because:

  • Well before the start of Ottawa’s 2020 and 2021 e-scooter pilots, the e-scooter companies knew full well from their experience in other cities that disability safety and accessibility issues are top concerns. They were the reason why Toronto City Council unanimously voted last spring to not allow e-scooters. Yet, despite knowing of this danger, those savvy, well-funded e-scooter companies did not deploy effective measures in Ottawa that eliminate these serious dangers to people with disabilities, seniors and others.

 

  • The report does not claim that Ottawa City staff has found solutions that are proven to work in Ottawa or anywhere else in the world. The Ottawa City Staff Report states that throughout both the 2020 and 2021 Ottawa pilots, Ottawa City staff has been working with the e-scooter companies and others (including a disability stakeholder group) to try to find ways to eliminate safety and accessibility dangers. For example, working with its disability advisory group, no safe level of sound emission was found for e-scooters that that advisory group considered to be sufficient.

 

  • The e-scooter companies have had their chance! They have always had a strong financial incentive to find solutions to the known dangers. They have ample resources to investigate them They have had many chances to deploy them in other cities. Yet during both Ottawa pilots, the documented dangers to people with disabilities, seniors and others persisted.

 

 4. The Ottawa City Staff Report’s Proposed Changes to the E-Scooter Program Are Much Too Little, Too Late

 

The Ottawa City Staff Report’s proposal for this year does not appear to be substantially better than it was last year. The Report in substance concedes that Ottawa must do more to eliminate these proven dangers to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors and others. However, the additional measures it proposes are far too weak, and in one case, absurd. For example:

  • The Report recommends that each e-scooter have braille and raised letter wording to provide contact information for reporting a complaint. A blind person obviously cannot read that braille on an e-scooter as it illegally races by them on the sidewalk.

 

If a blind person trips over an e-scooter left on the sidewalk, they are very unlikely to grope around to see if there is braille information on the object over which they just went flying. Ottawa City staff advance this proposal even after we pointed out its obvious absurdity. That typifies how this Report marginalizes and disrespects the safety and accessibility needs of people with disabilities.

 

  • The Report recommends that each e-scooter be required to emit an ongoing sound, because they are otherwise silent. Yet after City staff held meetings with its disability advisory group, no level of sound emission was found that meets the safety needs of people with disabilities. The Report also recognizes that there is no international standard already established for this. Contrary to the Report’s suggestion, Ottawa would not show global leadership by holding a third pilot, again endangering public safety and disability accessibility, while bureaucrats and corporate lobbyists continue pondering options.

 

  • The Report’s recommendations improperly leave in place the serious problem that the profit-seeking e-scooter companies are given a major role in enforcement. Even though the Report proposes some increase in public enforcement, the e-scooter companies are here again in an obvious, irremediable conflict of interest. During Ottawa’s recent trucker occupation, City Council would not have approved a plan of having the police simply refer complaints about the truckers’ behaviour to the truckers themselves.

 

  • The Report would require e-scooter companies to have the “newest” technology to prevent sidewalk riding. This begs the vital question whether reliable technology exists. The Report does not stipulate what that newest technology is.

 

  • Just because technology is the “newest” does not mean it is effective and reliable. Up to now, it has not been. We propose that Ottawa City Staff should not come to Ottawa City Council with any proposal to allow e-scooters, given their known dangers, until and unless that technology has been demonstrated to be safe and reliable. Given that the main players are deploying e-scooters in other cities around the world, they should already have been able to prove this newest technology, if it is not a mirage.

 

  • The report would require use of “geofencing.” This sounds very cool and cutting edge. However, it does not explicitly purport to use geofencing to keep e-scooters off sidewalks, for which this technology is not suitable. GPS is not accurate enough to detect whether an e-scooter is on the road or is just inches away, on the sidewalk.

 

  • The Report proposes developing some sort of unified form for reporting complaints. That is an ineffectual bureaucrat’s solution to a human safety problem. Even worse, the Report proposes discouraging email for reporting complaints. That will create yet another barrier for some people with disabilities.

 

  • The Report recommends that the e-scooter companies be given 15 minutes instead of one hour to remove a wrongly parked e-scooter (e.g., one left on the sidewalk). This is an ineffective cosmetic solution. It will not prevent new barriers. An e-scooter is a tripping hazard if it is left on the sidewalk for any time at all. Moreover, the 15 minutes presumably only runs after a complaint is received. If there is no complaint, this toothless time limit is ineffective. It is wrong to burden innocent pedestrians to have to provide free enforcement services, by taking the time to report wrongly parked e-scooter.

 

  • The Report proposes that Ottawa engage only two e-scooter companies, not three. This does nothing to protect people with disabilities, seniors and others. If anything, this measure helps bigger e-scooter companies out-compete their smaller competitors.

 

  • The Report does not recommend requiring that individual e-scooter riders be insured.

5. Other Incorrect Conclusions in the Ottawa City Staff Report

 

The Ottawa City Staff Report’s recommendation to conduct a third e-scooter pilot is also erroneous because it rests on these incorrect conclusions:

  • The Report seems to operate on a premise that there are no legal implications or risks for Ottawa. Yet if Ottawa continues to allow e-scooters and takes active part in their deployment, it is exposed to potential liability for deaths or injuries that result.

 

  • The report shows that the City of Ottawa will have to bear substantial new costs, while the e-scooter companies make the profits. The surcharges proposed are not assured to cover all these costs.

 

  • The Report does not fully quantify the added costs to the taxpayer that another e-scooter pilot would entail, especially if effective public enforcement is for the first time to take place. This is especially so in light of the fact that Ottawa’s police force is not now resourced to handle any significant new law enforcement burden. The Report states:

“The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) does not have the resources to allocate officers to perform e-scooter enforcement daily.”

Recent events surrounding the trucker occupation in Ottawa demonstrates that Ottawa’s policing capacity cannot now handle added burdens. If e-scooter riders know the Ottawa Police is not involved, that gives e-scooter joyriders all the more license to ride on sidewalks with impunity.

  • The Report’s budget proposals purport to charge the e-scooter companies only for so-called direct operating costs of the City. They do not, for example, include the added ambulance and hospital costs inflicted on those injured by e-scooters, which the same taxpayer must bear.

 

6. Conclusion

 

Despite all these proven dangers, and the demonstrable insufficiency of new measures that Ottawa City staff propose, the Report ultimately asks City Council to green light a third e-scooter pilot and to let the Ottawa City staff worry about the details. That failed in the last two pilots to prevent known dangers to people with disabilities, seniors and others. It should not happen again.

 

It is very commendable that Toronto City Council did not proceed with any e-scooter pilot, before asking City staff to study the impact of e-scooters on people with disabilities. Toronto City Staff thereupon undertook a thorough study and concluded that no workable options exist to protect people with disabilities, including those technology options proposed by the e-scooter corporate lobbyists. Toronto City Council therefore wisely and unanimously said no to e-scooters. People with disabilities in Ottawa deserve no less.

 

We conclude this brief by noting that it is a painful irony that Ottawa has not made the Ottawa City Staff Report available in an accessible format. That violates the AODA’s Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Moreover, City Staff provided its Report in pdf format, claiming it was accessible. Yet it is widely known that pdf presents accessibility problems, and that where used, an alternative accessible format such as html or MS Word should also be provided at the same time.

 

Moreover, as of Friday, February 25, 2022, less than a week before Ottawa’s Transportation Committee is to consider e-scooters, the City of Ottawa acknowledged that it could not then provide the City Staff report’s supporting documents in an accessible format. Those were only provided less than a day before the March 2, 2022 Transportation Committee meeting, and only in pdf format (which, as just noted, presents accessibility problems). Here again, people with disabilities deserve better.

 

 

 

AODA Alliance Writes Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Brampton City Council, Urging Them Not to Allow Electric Scooters

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

AODA Alliance Writes Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Brampton City Council, Urging Them Not to Allow Electric Scooters

 

February 25, 2022

 

SUMMARY

 

The AODA Alliance has written to Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and all members of Brampton City Council, urging them not to allow electric scooters. This letter, set out below, explains why e-scooters endanger people with disabilities, seniors, children, and others.

 

In this June’s provincial election, we are calling on all political parties to ban e-scooters from all municipalities in Ontario, so that people with disabilities don’t have to fight these battles in one municipality after the next. In the meantime, Brampton City Council members, like all other municipal politicians, have to be ready for this fall’s Ontario-wide municipal election. What politician wants a record of endangering people with disabilities, seniors, children, and others?

 

To learn more about the disability campaign to protect us all from the dangers posed by e-scooters, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page.

 

MORE DETAILS

 

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/

 

February 25, 2022

 

Via Email:

To: Mayor Patrick Brown

Patrick.Brown@brampton.ca

 

City Councillor (Ward 1 and 5) Rowena Santos

rowena.santos@brampton.ca

 

Regional Councillor (Ward 1 and 5) Paul Vicente

paul.vicente@brampton.ca

 

City Councillor (Ward 2 and 6) Doug Whillans

doug.whillans@brampton.ca

 

Regional Councillor (Ward 2 and 6) Michael Palleschi

michael.palleschi@brampton.ca

 

City Councillor (Ward 3 and 4) Jeff Bowman

jeff.bowman@brampton.ca

 

Regional Councillor (Ward 3 and 4) Martin Medeiros

martin.medeiros@brampton.ca

 

City Councillor (Ward 7 and 8) Charmaine Williams

charmaine.williams@brampton.ca

 

Regional Councillor (Ward 7 and 8) Pat Fortini

pat.fortini@brampton.ca

 

City Councillor (Ward 9 and 10) Harkirat Singh

harkirat.singh@brampton.ca

 

Regional Councillor (Ward 9 and 10) Gurpreet Dhillon

gurpreet.dhillon@brampton.ca

 

Dear Mayor Brown and Members of Brampton City Council,

Re: Protecting Brampton from the Dangers of Electric Scooters

 

We seek your leadership to protect all people in Brampton, especially people with disabilities and seniors, whose safety is endangered if Brampton permits electric scooters (e-scooters).

 

Please stand up to e-scooter corporate lobbyists and stand up for the many people who don’t want to be injured by e-scooters. We ask that you and Brampton City Council:

 

  1. Please stop the City’s consideration of e-scooters before it goes any further.

 

  1. If not, then at the very least, put any consideration of e-scooters on hold until the COVID-19 pandemic is well behind us. No doubt, Brampton City Council and staff now have much higher priorities.

 

  1. If not, then if any steps at all are to happen on this issue over the next months, you, as mayor, should personally lead an open, accessible, and extensive City consultation with people with disabilities and seniors on the dangers that e-scooters pose. As Brampton’s mayor, we ask that you hold public virtual face-to-face town hall meetings with people with disabilities and seniors, so you hear directly from them.

 

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 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.

 

The Dangers to People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others

In cities where e-scooters are allowed, rental e-scooters, left strewn around public places, create 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.

 

Toronto City staff 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 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 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, Mississauga, London, and Ottawa have all advised their respective city councils against allowing e-scooters.

 

Back 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 at Toronto City Hall by E-scooter Rental Companies’ Corporate Lobbyists

It is evident that the well-funded e-scooter corporate lobbyists have been trying to get the ear of Brampton City Council. 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.

 

It is a long-standing, time-tested requirement that motor vehicles are only permitted when the motor vehicle and the driver are properly licensed, when the driver has undergone mandatory training, where the vehicle is subjected to safety technical standards, and where both the driver and vehicle are insured. These important safeguards are needed to protect public safety.

 

The e-scooter corporate lobbyists are trying to get you to let them duck all these safeguards. 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 falsely claim that the City can approve e-scooters at no cost to the City or the public.

 

Brampton should not run a pilot project with allowing e-scooters. To run a pilot would be to expose people in Brampton to serious injuries if not deaths, just to see if e-scooters are a good idea. Experimenting on the public, when the risks are so serious, would be demonstrably immoral. The corporate lobbyists seek a “pilot” as a pretext to establish a market for their product, and to get a foot in the door.

 

That the e-scooter corporate lobbyists argue that the COVID-19 pandemic would be a great time to start allowing e-scooters in Brampton, would only pile hardship upon hardship for society’s most vulnerable. People with disabilities are now suffering disproportionate hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let’s Talk

Can we speak by phone or Zoom about these issues? Please make your legacy one which made Brampton safer and more accessible for people with disabilities. Do not leave a legacy of a Brampton where it becomes harder and more dangerous for us to get around. Your community has too many disability barriers. Do not create new ones by allowing e-scooters.

 

Sincerely,

 

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont

Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media Coverage, Health Cards, Electric Scooters, Disability Barriers in schools, and Another Ford Government Accessibility Blunder

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Media Coverage, Health Cards, Electric Scooters, Disability Barriers in schools, and Another Ford Government Accessibility Blunder

 

February 17, 2022

 

SUMMARY

 

In short order, here are five new developments in our ongoing accessibility campaign:

 

  1. On February 15, 2022, the influential QP Briefing publication (owned by the Toronto Star) ran an excellent article, which we include below. It reports on the Ford Government finally agreeing to extend the deadline to renew expired Ontario Health Cards to September 30, 2022. It also reports on the Government being forced to agree to allow people to use their Ontario Photo ID Card (if they have one) in place of a driver’s license when renewing their Health Card online.

 

QP Briefing is widely read within Queen’s Park. We invite the Toronto Star to also share this important news with their broad readership outside Queen’s Park, who deserve to know that they don’t have to rush to service Ontario before February 28, 2022 to renew their Health Card.

 

Learn more about this issue by reading the AODA Alliance’s February 9, 2022 news release.

 

 

  1. Last spring, Toronto City Council voted unanimously to ban electric scooters from the city. There are nevertheless many e-scooters bombing around in the nice weather. Stores keep selling them. There is no visible enforcement of the ban on e-scooters.

 

It is very good that the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee will address this topic at its February 22, 2022 virtual meeting, starting at 9:30 a.m. You can ask to make a 5-minute deputation to that Committee. We encourage you to sign up to do so. You can explain why you think Toronto should do a better job of enforcing the ban on e-scooters, which endanger people with disabilities, seniors, children, and others.

 

To sign up to speak to the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, send an email requesting to talk about e-scooters at the meeting to taac@toronto.ca. The AODA Alliance has already signed up to speak at that meeting. The meeting will be live streamed on YouTube.

 

Learn more about the e-scooter issue by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

  1. This week, the Ford Government told the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee that it is aiming to make public that Committee’s final report by the end of February or early March. Below, we set out the email from Ontario’s acting Assistant Deputy Minister for Accessibility to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee (of which AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is a member).

 

Section 11(2) of the AODA requires The Government to publicly post that report “upon receiving it”, not a month or more later. Last year, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky had to bring a court application against the Ford Government, because it had delayed making public the initial reports of three AODA Standards Development Committees. For more on that court case, read the AODA Alliance’s May 7, 2021 news release.

 

The Ford Government’s explanation of this new delay, set out in its February 15, 2022 email below, does not hold water. All the steps that the Government lists as being necessary before it posts this report were in fact completed last spring for the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial report. The final report is the same as the initial report, with just a few short additions and revisions. They do not have to start all over again, as most of the work was already done.

 

Moreover, Ministry staff had direct access to this final report as it was being developed, and indeed put it in its final form during the week before it was finally voted on and approved by the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. This is not a document that suddenly arrived at the Ministry for the first time.

 

We call on the Ford Government to hurry up and release the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s final report. We also call on it to quickly release the final reports of the Health Care Standards Development Committee and the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee when the Government receives them.

 

  1. The Ford Government’s Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho has done it again. He sent out another inaccessible letter, this time a letter to members of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky immediately wrote the minister to object to this. The Minister’s office replied later that day, admitting to this letter’s inaccessibility, and apologizing. This email exchange is set out below.

 

This is not the first time this has happened. Two years ago, Minister Cho sent out a broadcast email invitation to publicize his October 29, 2020, virtual media event, where he was to talk about what a great job the Ford Government is doing on advancing the goal of accessibility for people with disabilities. Then, as here, he sent it out in an inaccessible document. The Government admitted this blunder, as was reported in the October 27, 2020 AODA Alliance Update.

 

It is more than ironic that the final report of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, which Minister Cho was corresponding about this time, itself points out this very kind of disability barrier and made strong recommendations to prevent it.

 

 

  1. How many days has it been since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, calling for far more action to make Ontario Accessible to people with disabilities by 2025? A total of 1,113 days!

 

How many days are left before January 1, 2025, the deadline for the Ontario Government to lead the province to becoming accessible to people with disabilities? Just 1,050 days. Do you think it’s time for the Ford Government to finally announce a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report, and to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025?

 

 

MORE DETAILS

 

QP Briefing February 15, 2022

 

Originally posted at https://www.qpbriefing.com/2022/02/15/deadline-extended-for-health-card-renewal-after-looming-court-battle/

 

Deadline extended for health card renewal after looming court battle

Thanks to an extension, expired health cards have until Sept. 30 to be renewed.

In addition to extending the renewal deadline for health cards, Ontario’s government recently announced it’s also working to allow online renewals using Ontario Photo Cards — something disability advocates have been asking for since Jan. 2020.

 

The province shared on Feb. 9 that Ontarians now have until Sept. 30 to renew their health cards, an extension of seven months from the previous Feb. 28 deadline. The announcement came just as the government was getting ready to head to court, brought there by David Lepofsky, chair of the advocacy group Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act Alliance.

 

Lepofsky, who is blind, filed an application with the Ontario Superior Court on Jan. 26, arguing the Ford government had discriminated during the pandemic against people with disabilities who didn’t have a driver’s licence and were forced to renew their health card in-person. Currently, only people with a valid driver’s licence can renew their health card online.

 

While Lepofsky lauded the extension as a “big victory for people with disabilities, after a battle we should never have had to fight,” he says the court case will remain an option until the online renewal process opens to those with a photo ID card instead of a licence.

 

A day after the extension for health card renewals was announced by the government, Lepofsky published the affidavit he filed with the Superior Court, which shows the government was first notified that driver’s licences were a barrier to health card renewals in February 2020, when the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s executive director wrote to both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Government and Consumer Services notifying them of the accessibility barrier. On December 20, 2021, the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Patricia De Guire, also wrote to the government to ask that photo ID cards be permitted for online renewals.

 

Lepofsky said he had his first meeting with representatives from the Ministries of Health, Government and Consumer Services, and Seniors and Accessibility in November 2021. By Jan. 25, in a meeting attended by OHIP General Manager Patrick Dicerni, government officials told Lepofsky that an online renewal process utilizing an Ontario photo ID card instead of a driver’s licence would be ready by May 2022, according to Lepofsky’s affidavit. He said that in that same meeting, government officials told him a mail-in process allowing the same photo ID for health card renewal would be implemented for early February 2022, however this process hasn’t been created yet.

 

Lepofsky also says in his affidavit that the government declined to comment on why it had not extended the renewal deadline, which was still Feb. 28 at the time, and why it had not been advertised that individuals with expired health cards could still seek out treatment.

 

The ministries involved in the meetings with Lepofsky declined to answer questions regarding the court case, the decision to extend the renewal deadline and progress on the online health card renewal process, instead deferring to statements made in the press release announcing the extended health card deadline.

 

February 15, 2022 Email from the Ford Government’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Accessibility to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee

 

Dear K-12 SDC members,

 

I understand the Chair has received some questions about when your Final Recommendations Report will be posted, and we have also been fielding some questions here at the ministry. Accordingly, I’d like to give you an update on our work.

 

Since your Committee submitted its final recommendations to the Minister on January 28, 2022, the ministry has been working to prepare your report for public posting. We are currently making it a very high priority to work through the operational steps that must be completed before the final report (in both English and French) can be posted on Ontario.ca. website, which we anticipate completing by end of February/early March.

 

This preparation work entails:

  • Reviewing the report for grammar, style (e.g. correct use of acronyms, capitalization, hyphenation, etc.) and format (e.g. numbering, paragraph style, etc.) to comply with Ontario Public Service Communication Standards for posting of documents on the Ontario.ca website;
  • Translating it into French as required by the French Language Services Act, 1990;
  • Converting the report into HTML format for posting on the Ontario.ca website, in order to remove all accessibility barriers in the report (including the cost of specific software such as Microsoft Word) and to meet the website accessibility requirement specified in the Information and Communications standards set out in Ontario Regulation 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005; and
  • Performing a final quality assurance check on the material prior to posting.

Doing this work takes time, and the longer the document, the more time it takes to complete the above tasks/steps.

Thank you for your patience, my apologies for sending this so late in the day, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to Mary or myself if you have any questions about this.

 

Alison Drummond

A/Assistant Deputy Minister | Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Division

Ministry for Seniors & Accessibility

E: alison.drummond@ontario.ca

 

February 15, 2022 Email from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky to Ontario’s Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho

 

February 15, 2022

 

To: The Hon Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility

Via email: raymond.cho@ontario.ca

College Park 5th Floor

777 Bay St

Toronto, ON M7A 1S5

 

Dear Minister,

 

Re: Accessibility of Your Letter Today to Members of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee

 

I have just received an email from you, attaching a letter to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. As you know, I am a member of that Committee, and am blind. You attached your letter in pdf format, without also including it in an alternative format that is accessible, such as MS Word.

 

Minister, this may seem to some like a small point, but it is most assuredly not. You have claimed that your Government would lead by example on accessibility. This is a terrible example by which to lead.

 

This is made all the more troubling, since I have asked your Ministry time and again to ensure that I am provided an alternative format document whenever you send a pdf document. Moreover, the final report of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, about which you were writing, itself makes recommendations to ensure that alternative accessible formats are also provided when a pdf is provided.

 

As well, may I note that you received the final report of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee on Friday, February 4, 2022, eleven days ago. Section 1 1(2) of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires you to publicly posted it “upon receiving it”. You have not yet done so. When will you publicly post it? School boards cannot start using it, to the benefit of students with disabilities, until you fulfil your legal duty and publicly post it.

 

In closing, as the Minister for Accessibility, could you please set a good example by ensuring that the documents you send to blind people like me are accessible?

 

Sincerely,

 

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont

Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Twitter: @davidlepofsky

 

 

CC: The Hon. Premier Doug Ford premier@ontario.ca

Carlene Alexander, Deputy Minister of Accessibility, carlene.alexander@ontario.ca

Alison Drummond, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, alison.drummond@ontario.ca

 

 

Text of February 15, 2022 Email from the Office of of Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho to K-12 Education Standards Development Committee

 

Dear K – 12 Education SDC members,

 

My sincere apologies to SDC members, for our oversight when sharing the recent communication from Minister Cho that lacked the usual plain text content in the body of the email, and therefore was clearly not in an accessible format.

 

I’m resending the communication on behalf of Minister Cho in the usual plain text format with attached PDF.

 

Kind regards,

 

Shilpa Kotecha (she/her)

Manager, Issues, Media Relations and Correspondence

Ministry for Seniors & Accessibility (MSAA)

Shilpa.kotecha2@ontario.ca

 

February 14, 2022

 

Ms. Lynn Ziraldo

Chair, K-12 Education Standards Development Committee

Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario

1181 Yonge Street, Unit 221

Richmond Hill ON

L4S 1L2

lynnziraldo@rogers.com

 

Dear Ms. Ziraldo:

 

Congratulations on the completion of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s Final Recommendations Report.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my appreciation for all the hard work and dedication you and your committee members have shown in developing your recommendations. Your perseverance in facing the additional challenge of completing this work via on-line sessions is admirable and much appreciated.

 

As you are aware, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) requires communication from me to you as the Chair of the committee, to advise you of the decision on how to proceed with the proposed accessibility standard and whether to recommend that all, part, or modifications become a regulation. This letter is to inform you of next steps regarding your committee’s final recommendations for the development of a proposed K-12 Education Standard, which you submitted to my office on January 28, 2022.

 

I have instructed ministry staff to commence the work and analysis necessary for me to determine whether the proposed accessibility standards require any changes or modifications in order to bring them forward for broader government consideration. This includes taking the time necessary to research the full impact of any proposed change and to coordinate with other ministries and experts where necessary.

 

Removing barriers for students in Ontario’s K-12 education system is an important area of focus for our government. Once again, I thank you and all committee members for your commitment to ensuring accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

 

Sincerely,

Raymond Cho

Minister

 

c: The Hon. Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education

Jay Jung, Chief of Staff, MSAA Minister’s Office

Carlene Alexander, Deputy Minister, Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility

Matthew Shaw, Chair, Accessibility Standards Advisory Council

Members of K-12 Standards Development Committee

Brampton City Council and Mayor Patrick Brown Should Not Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Allowing the Silent Menace of Electric Scooters

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Brampton City Council and Mayor Patrick Brown Should Not Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Allowing the Silent Menace of Electric Scooters

 

February 11, 2022

 

SUMMARY

 

1. News Report Shows Brampton About to Allow Electric Scooters Without Considering Their Dangers to People with Disabilities, Seniors, Children and Others

 

A worrisome February 5, 2022 article in The Pointer, an online newspaper, reports that Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Brampton City Council are on the verge of agreeing to unleash electric scooters on Brampton, without properly considering the widely-publicized and demonstrated dangers they create for people with disabilities, seniors and others (Article set out below). People with disabilities, seniors, children and others should not be endangered by the silent menace of uninsured, unlicensed, untrained joy-riders racing at upwards of 20 kilometers per hour on electric-scooters on sidewalks, roads, park paths, and other public places. They should not suffer the accessibility barrier of rented e-scooters being left strewn about on sidewalks, as has happened in so many other cities around the world that have allowed them.

 

Last year, the e-scooter corporate lobbyists failed in their well-funded feeding frenzy of lobbying at Toronto City Hall. Toronto City Council wisely voted unanimously not to allow e-scooters after Toronto City staff studied and documented the dangers they have been proven to create for people with disabilities, seniors, and others. Those corporate lobbyists have now set their sights on Brampton.

 

Neither Brampton’s mayor nor its City staff have ever reached out to the AODA Alliance to learn about our concerns with e-scooters. Our concerns have been covered time and again in the media. Our leadership role on this issue, working with other disability organizations, is well-known.

 

A recent meeting of the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee received ample feedback from people with disabilities about the actual harms and dangers that e-scooters have posed for them in Ottawa over the pilot projects that Ottawa allowed over the past two years. Mayor Patrick Brown and Brampton City Council should learn about this before they expose their own residents to the same dangers.

 

We call on the City of Brampton to hold off its consideration of e-scooters. Its staff should investigate their dangers for people with disabilities, seniors and others. We would be pleased to help.

 

As a good start, Brampton should first study the AODA Alliance’s detailed March 30, 2020 report to the City of Toronto on e-scooters, as well as the two excellent reports prepared by Toronto City staff, one in 2020 and the other in 2021. They should also take a serious look at the very disturbing collection of news reports on the injuries that e-scooters have caused where they are allowed that are set out in the November 29, 2021 AODA Alliance Update.

 

The news report below makes it appear that Brampton has not gotten its Accessibility Advisory Committee to review and give advice on this issue. In contrast, concerns about e-scooters have been voiced in strong terms by the Accessibility Advisory Committee s in Toronto, Hamilton, Mississauga, London and Ottawa.

 

Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, a municipality like Brampton is required to have an Accessibility Advisory Committee to get advice on issues like this that can impact on people with disabilities. A failure to do so here flies in the face of the spirit of that legislation.

 

Mayor Brown and Brampton City Council should not allow new disability barriers to be created in their city. Yet that is exactly what they are speeding towards doing by allowing e-scooters. Like Toronto, they should take a serious look at the liability risks they will create for their municipality in addition to the dangers they create for their residents.

 

Claims by the e-scooter corporate lobbyists, set out in the news article below, are exaggerated, misleading or of questionable accuracy. Brampton City Council should approach them with more than a grain of salt.

 

We call on Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Brampton City Council to stand up for people with disabilities. Please stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists who clearly have their ear.

 

 

2. Correction to the February 9, 2022 AODA Alliance News Release on Health Card renewals

 

The AODA Alliance’s February 9, 2022 news release incorrectly stated that the Ford Government had extended the grace period to September 1, 2022 for people to renew their expired Ontario Health Card. In fact, this extension is to September 30, 2022, and not just to September 1, 2022. Oops! Sorry about that!

 

 

MORE DETAILS

 

The Pointer February 5, 2022

 

Originally posted at https://thepointer.com/article/2022-02-05/brampton-s-plan-to-unleash-e-scooters-prompts-accessibility-safety-concerns-questions-about-viability

 

Brampton’s plan to unleash e-scooters prompts accessibility & safety concerns, questions about viability

 

The City of Brampton could soon see electric scooters zipping along its vast suburban roads and parked on its sidewalks. The move was confirmed by council members Wednesday, after presentations from companies pushing the idea.

 

However, accessibility campaigners are vehemently opposed to the plan and what it could mean for people living with disabilities. Early data from the United States, Sweden and Calgary show the scooters could pose safety risks.

 

By Isaac Callan – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

 

Brampton, with its gaping boulevards and suburban-style planning built around the car, does not seem like an ideal setting for the use of commuter e-scooters. But it’s set to be the first GTA municipality to authorize rentals of the increasingly popular electrified two-wheelers, under a pilot program.

 

The move raises a range of questions about safety and regulation and leaves council open to significant backlash from accessibility advocates.

 

The viability of the idea, in a bedroom community that lacks cycling infrastructure, required density, local employment options and a culture that supports active transportation, is another concern.

 

Nonetheless, at Wednesday’s Committee of Council meeting, Brampton council members unanimously directed staff to begin the process of introducing e-scooters through a pilot program, after pitches from companies pushing the idea to generate revenues for themselves. Brampton will now offer e-scooter rental providers the chance to become one of three companies that will operate in the city.

 

The two-year pilot program will involve 250 to 500 scooters per company, for a maximum of 1,500 between the three companies, which will agree to the areas of the city in which each will operate.

 

The decision will not be official until it is ratified at next week’s full council meeting.

 

The provisional approval was celebrated Wednesday by representatives of e-scooter companies and council. In theory, the micro mobility devices offer an alternative to driving for short trips and a route toward reducing emissions in the city.

 

“Every city has GHG emission targets and a larger goal to reduce vehicle traffic,” Stewart Lyons, CEO of Bird Canada, told councillors. “In my opinion, there’s nothing that is quite as quick and as substantial in terms of decreasing vehicle traffic than a scooter programme. Particularly given the amount of investment a city has to invest in it, which is fairly minimal.”

 

A range of companies across the world have spent years extolling the benefits of these devices. Asian cities, such as Bangkok and Singapore (a city-state) offer examples of the popularity of e-scooters, but also provide a cautionary warning.

 

Tokyo police began cracking down on their use last year, after 39 accidents that caused injury in a six-month period.

 

Brampton Councillors Harkirat Singh (left) and Gurpreet Dhillon try out e-scooters. (Image from Scooty/Twitter)

 

The potential introduction of e-scooters to Brampton is now raising concerns.

 

Drivers in the city, where auto insurance rates are among the highest in Canada, already contend with rush hour congestion and high speeds, which could worsen by residents zipping around on scooters.

 

“This is all a fog of unenforceability,” David Lepofsky, a leading lawyer and advocate for people with disabilities, told The Pointer. Lepofsky fought relentlessly and successfully against the introduction of e-scooters in Toronto due to concerns that those with particular disabilities would face another obstacle when trying to use city streets and sidewalks safely. He said he was frustrated that Brampton staff had not canvassed him or his organization, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, to hear concerns.

 

“We are publicly visible, audibly public on this issue,” he said. “So they have no excuse for reaching this, other than simply giving in to the corporate lobbyists and so on and failing to consider our concerns.”

 

Brampton’s lobbyist registry shows six active lobbyists approaching council members and staff to push e-scooters. Bird, Scooty, Superpedestrian, Spin and Roll Technologies have all registered to convince elected officials of the benefits.

 

Safety concerns from advocates have been wide ranging. The disability advisory committees for Toronto, Mississauga and London all recommended against introducing scooters to their cities’ streets. Some councils, like Toronto, listened to disability advocates, others, including Ottawa, have not.

 

The plan for e-scooters in Brampton was presented to the City’s age-friendly advisory committee in January. It does not appear on the accessibility advisory committee’s most recent agenda. It’s unclear why.

 

A study of e-scooters in Sweden highlights Lepofsky’s concerns. Research funded by the Swedish Transport Administration found that 13 percent of e-scooter-related accidents resulted in another road user being injured after interacting with a moving or parked e-scooter. It means that more than one in ten e-scooter injuries are to people who have made no active decision to ride one of the devices.

 

There is limited data on investigations into the safety risks associated with e-scooters. Many cities in North America are still operating pilots and have only recently introduced the devices to their streets. Ontario itself is in a five-year pilot period for municipalities to test and regulate e-scooters that began in 2019.

 

Figures from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, assembled and analyzed by academics at the University of California, registered a 354 percent rise of e-scooter-related injuries in United States adults between 2014 and 2018 (the figure should be placed into context, as take-up of the products increased significantly over this period). The research noted almost one third of injuries involved riders with a head injury.

 

“Despite being unable to account for ridership exposure, the nearly doubling of incident e-scooter trauma calls for improved rider safety measures and regulation,” the study advised.

 

Brampton’s draft plan goes in the opposite direction, leaving the vast majority of decisions in the hands of private companies.

 

This could leave the City vulnerable to potential legal action.

 

Staff have recommended the City allow three private companies to operate and manage the day-to-day regulation of e-scooters on its streets. The process will invite companies to operate under two-year agreements, with each company choosing their own service area within the city. It’s unclear how this would be decided, as some corridors would be much more lucrative than others. E-scooters will operate on roads with speeds below 60 kilometres per hour, bike lanes, multi-use paths and recreation trails.

 

Currently, Brampton has hardly any on-street bike lanes, raising questions of how viable the scooter plan is. With about 11 kilometres of on-street bike lanes, mostly in and around residential subdivisions (two temporary bike-lane routes were also created during the pandemic to give residents more options to get outside) it raises questions about how elected officials could support the use of e-scooters while continuing to ignore the need for active transportation infrastructure.

 

Mississauga has initiated a plan to add 56 kilometres of bike lanes to the 51 kilometres it has previously maintained. That would be about ten times the length that Brampton has.

Toronto had 587 kilometres of on-street bike lanes before it launched its plan prior to the pandemic to add more than 500 additional kilometres of bike lanes. Brampton has one percent of this total, and Toronto is often criticized by active transportation advocates for its lack of on-street cycling infrastructure.

 

It is unclear what e-scooters would mean for Brampton’s busy roads.

 

How the Brampton program would be regulated, and the possible cost to taxpayers for enforcement, not to mention potential healthcare costs that would be borne by taxpayers, are issues that received little attention before council members provisionally approved the idea on the advice of private companies.

 

E-scooter companies have relied extensively on technology to enforce rules with their scooters.

 

During presentations to Brampton Committee of Council on Wednesday, Lyons of Bird Canada and Shoaib Ahmed, CEO of SCOOTY, highlighted smart GPS capabilities as a key control. They said their companies could enforce helmet wearing by requiring a selfie from users and use geofencing to slow riders down or stop them from riding or parking in areas where e-scooters are forbidden.

 

“We have all kinds of technology surrounding other safety features related to this,” Lyons said.

 

Brampton is putting all its eggs in that basket. The system staff have proposed will leave e-scooter companies almost entirely in charge of their own enforcement of their own rules. The City, under Mayor Patrick Brown’s massive budget cuts, has been unable to keep up with enforcement of other issues, recently deciding to hire a private company to handle the registration of illegal secondary suites because internal staff were overwhelmed by applications.

Other enforcement needs in the city have also suffered due to underfunding.

 

“Commercial operators will be required [to] identify and implement e-scooter parking/docking areas,” the staff report says. “They will also be required to educate users on proper parking procedures, such as not blocking the sidewalk clearway path of travel, obstructing features such as utility accesses, garbage bins, or doorways, or curbside zones reserved for uses such as buses, taxis or loading.”

 

The City and the Peel Regional Police will have a role in enforcement. “Enforcement requirements for personal e-scooters are expected to be fairly modest but depend on uptake,” the report says. It’s unclear how staff came to this conclusion.

 

“Participating municipalities are required to monitor all collisions from motor vehicle collision reports (MVCR) involving e-scooters on road segments within the Municipality and to provide information to MTO upon request,” a spokesperson for the Region of Peel told The Pointer. The Peel Regional Police did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication.

 

Brampton will be in a position to generate revenue from the program. It will charge an annual administrative fee of $5,000 to companies operating in the city, with an additional $50 per scooter per year. The City will collect five cents for every trip.

 

The approval process is central to why Lepofsky says e-scooters are nothing but a menace. The rollout is being led by private companies with the blessing of municipal governments that have done little research and have limited oversight of the operation.

 

“What the e-scooter companies have come up with is a way to put a motor vehicle on the road where the vehicle is not subject to any safety standards, there is no license for the driver or the owner, there is no insurance for the driver, questionable for the owner,” he said.

 

The City of Calgary was repeatedly used as an example by the e-scooter representatives to convince council members the pilot is a good idea. The Alberta city ran a pilot between 2019 and 2020, before confirming the continued use of e-scooters last year. A 2020 study by the City of Toronto suggested Calgary’s e-scooter program would be 350 times more likely to result in serious injury per kilometre than the Toronto bike share program.

 

Stephanie VandenBerg, a University of Calgary clinical assistant professor and emergency physician who spoke to The Pointer, studied the impacts of e-scooter use around the city’s pilot in detail. Between 2019 and 2020, she recorded 1.87 million e-scooter trips by around 200,000 riders in Calgary. A total of 1,272 ended up in emergency or urgent care (around 3.5 percent of the traumas seen over that period), with a rate of one hospital injury for every 1,400 rides.

 

This happened despite the fact Calgary, with a vast cycling network and established enforcement experience, is in a better position to protect e-scooter riders than Brampton. “Calgary has the most extensive urban pathway and bikeway network in North America,” the City’s website says.

 

The majority of injuries in Calgary occurred at night, between 8 p.m. and midnight. “They were probably being used to travel between social events, with or without some level of intoxication,” VandenBerg told The Pointer.

 

Experience did not necessarily improve the situation.

 

A total of 33 e-scooter riders required ambulances in Calgary in 2019, rising to 69 in 2020. The total number of e-scooters in the city stayed constant during that time, although VandenBerg was unable to discern if the total number of trips also rose.

 

“[E-scooter companies] have an immense amount of data… that would help us understand crash and injury characteristics but companies have not been willing to share that information,” she said.

 

Lepofsky is concerned Brampton will open the floodgates to an unregulated industry that could further disadvantage residents with disabilities from going about their day. Unconvinced by the technological promises and talk of enforcement, he has pushed hard to keep the GTA e-scooter free.

 

“This is real human beings,” he said. “So the question is, does Patrick Brown and the City council care about people with disabilities or do they just care about the corporate lobbyists?”

 

Email: isaac.callan@thepointer.com

 

Twitter: @isaaccallan

 

Sign Up Fast to Tell Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee Tonight to Oppose the Ottawa City Staff Proposal to Again Allow E-Scooters that Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Sign Up Fast to Tell Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee Tonight to Oppose the Ottawa City Staff Proposal to Again Allow E-Scooters that Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others

 

February 1, 20222

 

SUMMARY

 

Please sign up before 4 pm today to speak at a virtual meeting of the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee tonight. That Committee will receive and comment on a very harmful proposal by Ottawa City staff. That staff report proposes that Ottawa again allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ottawa this year, even though they have been proven to endanger people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.

 

Below we set out our comments that the AODA Alliance will submit to the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee and City staff this evening. We also set out the text of the report that Ottawa City staff will present at the virtual meeting tonight.

 

It is unbelievable that in 2022, the Ottawa City staff are proposing that people with disabilities and others in Ottawa serve as guinea pigs for a big experiment to help the e-scooter corporate lobbyists market their products. Remember that this year is a municipal election year.

 

To sign up to speak for up to five minutes at tonight’s virtual meeting, email a request before 4 pm today to Carole Legault CaroleA.Legault@Ottawa.ca

 

To attend to watch or speak at the meeting, here is the Zoom link and meeting number:

 

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81100740377

 

Webinar ID: 811 0074 0377

 

Learn more about the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities and others by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page.

MORE DETAILS

 

AODA Alliance’s February 1, 2022 Presentation to Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee on Electric Scooters

 

We call on the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee to press Ottawa City Council to categorically reject the proposal by Ottawa City staff that Ottawa conduct a third “pilot project” in 2022 with e-scooters. The report that Ottawa City staff are presenting today, set out below, demonstrates that e-scooters endanger people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.

 

These are especially dangerous when ridden on sidewalks, despite the fact that they are not permitted there. They are also especially dangerous when they are left lying on the sidewalk, abandoned.

 

We warned Ottawa and its mayor in advance of these pilot projects that this would happen. The experience in other cities where e-scooters are allowed shows that these are real dangers. Nevertheless, Ottawa plowed ahead with its two pilot projects in 2020 and 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, knowingly creating these dangers.

 

The data in the Ottawa City staff report to be presented today demonstrates that the new disability barriers about which we forewarned Ottawa in fact materialized. This is hardly a surprise.

 

The Ottawa City staff report includes:

 

“79% of all survey respondents encountered sidewalk riding, of which:

67% did not report to City, providers or police

64% felt uncomfortable and unsafe”

 

  • “83% of all survey respondents encountered mis-parked e-scooters (up from 69% in 2020), of which

77% left them where they were

Approx. 16% reported them to the City or to the e-scooter providers”

 

It is inexcusable that the Ottawa City staff report did not include any substantive discussion of the impact on people with disabilities, seniors or other vulnerable people, nor does it address the data from other cities that allowed e-scooters and that show the dangers they present.

 

It is also a huge disservice to Ottawa that the Ottawa City staff report fails to address any of the detailed analysis of the 2020 and 2021 Toronto City staff reports that we provided to Ottawa City staff. Those are the most thorough reports on this topic we have seen from a Canadian municipality. They led Toronto City Council to vote unanimously against conducting an e-scooter pilot.

 

In this third pilot, Ottawa City staff are proposing that e-scooters be required to emit a constant sound. Yet from feedback we heard from people with disabilities who took part in Ottawa’s discussions on this, no audio level was discovered that was felt to be safe. Of course, this measure also does nothing for people with hearing loss.

 

The Ottawa City staff report makes it look like Ottawa City staff are closer to a marketing or advocacy outlet for the e-scooter rental companies, rather than public servants serving the public. This is crystallized where the report proposes that to hold the proposed third pilot with e-scooters, ” Ottawa will be demonstrating a global leadership role in this area.”

 

Ottawa would instead be exemplifying how a city government should never so callously disregard or marginalize the safety of vulnerable persons such as people with disabilities, seniors and children. Indeed, this distorted claim by Ottawa City staff seems remarkably similar to the claim last year by e-scooter corporate lobbyists to the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee that Ottawa is the “gold standard” for how to allow e-scooters. (See the AODA Alliances March 30, 2021 brief to The City of Toronto on e-scooters)

 

Ottawa City Council should not allow another e-scooter pilot. This is especially so as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage. The City of Ottawa should not use its residents, including vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, as unwilling guinea pigs in yet another dangerous and ill-conceived social experiment.

 

 

Text of January 2022 Ottawa City Staff Report to the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee Proposing a Third Pilot Project with Electric Scooters

 

Ottawa E-Scooter Pilot

Update to AAC

February 1, 2022

Ottawa

Agenda

Actions since December 14, 2021

Key 2021 data

Program recommendations

Next steps

Actions since December 14, 2021

Reviewed December meeting feedback from AAC

Completed data analysis of 2021 season

Drafting report to Transportation Committee

Key Data 2021 Season

Multiple data sources:

City data collection activities

Other City Departments

E-scooter providers

Direct feedback

End of season survey (1,732 respondents):

38% rode an e-scooter in 2021

23% rode an e-scooter during both 2020 and 2021 seasons

60% did not ride an e-scooter in either season

2021 Data Highlights (May 28 — Nov 30)

Total trips: 492,000 4 increase of approx. 260,000 trips compared to 2020 (+79 days )

127,000 unique riders 4 increase of approx. 54,000 riders compared to 2020

Average daily trips: 2,600

July and August, average daily trips: 3,200 (weekdays) 4,400 to 5,500 (weekends)

Average trip length, duration: 2.0 km, 14 mins 21 secs

Average daily utilization rates: 2.64 trips/scooter 4 decrease from 4.69 in 2020

Busiest period for usage: evening (6pm-10pm)

Highlights from Survey Data

From respondents who rode an e-scooter:

Increase in ‘utility’ type trips

Decrease in e-scooter usage for leisure or to test out

Almost half reported visiting a local business or restaurant

Of these approx. 45% reported spending over $50 on a typical visit

— Riders who completed more than 10 e-scooter trips grew from 23% (in 2020) to 43% (in 2021)

Highlights from Survey Data (confd)

74% of respondents indicated using e-scooters changed the way they travelled

Increased use of transit

Decreased use of personal vehicles (as driver or passenger)

33% of respondents connected to/from another form of transportation at least once

Of these, 92% connected to transit (up 3% from 2020 survey)

40% reported they walked more (up 11% from 2020 survey)

Key 2021 Data — Sidewalk Riding

Sidewalk riding monitoring: ‘trend line’ decreasing throughout season

Miovision traffic cameras at key locations

Data from providers

Complaints to City

79% of all survey respondents encountered sidewalk riding, of which:

67% did not report to City, providers or police

64% felt uncomfortable and unsafe

31°/0 of respondents believe riding behaviour has improved since the 2020

pilot and 30% believe it improved over the course of the 2021 pilot season

Key 2021 Data Scooter Parking

Mis-parking monitoring:

On-site surveys by City staff of key retail and commercial corridors

Data from providers

Complaints to City

Overall ‘trend line’ decreasing as season progressed

83% of all survey respondents encountered mis-parked e-scooters (up from 69% in 2020), of which

77% left them where they were

Approx. 16% reported them to the City or to the e-scooter providers

Where We are Headed

 

Competitive selection process

Newest proven technologies — that must be demonstrated first

No sidewalk riding

More precise parking

Sound emissions

More streamlined processes for reporting and enforcement

Recommendations Overall Program Management

Reduce number of e-scooter providers to a maximum of 2

Reduce combined max fleet size to 900

Increase fee structure to fund City operational resources

Update evaluation criteria aimed at adhering to better compliance

Streamline the mechanisms used to report and track issues

Recommendations Parking

Competitive procurement process that favours:

Newest proven technologies that must be demonstrated during evaluation process

Provider-led initiatives to comply with City standards

Improved verification of proper parking

Reducing provider response times to 15 minutes

More physically demarcated parking areas

Increased enforcement by City staff

Recommendation Sidewalk Riding

Competitive procurement process that favours:

Newest proven technologies that prevent sidewalk riding that must be demonstrated during evaluation process

Provider-led initiatives to comply with standards

Recommendation Sound Emissions

All shared e-scooters (in use) must have continuous sound emissions

City will provide specific criteria (frequencies, amplitudes, volumes, etc.) that providers must comply with on Day 1

Providers will be required to adjust sound parameters during season as more refinement of sound is undertaken (monitoring of effectiveness)

Education to riders about sound

Ottawa will be demonstrating a global leadership role in this area

Recommendation Enforcement

Temporary By-law Officers dedicated to e-scooter enforcement

Funded by e-scooter provider service agreement fees

Reporting and spot-checking provider response times

Empowered to impound any mis-parked e-scooter without warning

Ottawa Police Services to continue enforcement blitzes

With data and/or support from By-law Services

Updates to City By-law

Recommendation Reporting

Streamlined process(es) to collect complaints and track all data

In development with Innovative Client Services Department

All methods directed to one City platform (e-form) for comprehensive data collection

Automated redistribution to appropriate City departments for action as needed

Next Steps

AAC to provide comments

Finalize staff report

Present to Transportation Committee and Council (March 2022)

Issue Request for Proposal for 2022 season

Evaluate potential providers against selection criteria

Questions? Comments?

Ottawa

AODA Alliance’s Year-End Report on Our Advocacy Efforts in 2021

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

AODA Alliance’s Year-End Report on Our Advocacy Efforts This Year

 

December 24, 2021

 

An exhausting year is reaching its conclusion. With this, our 100th AODA Alliance Update of the year, we give you, our valued supporters, an update on what we have accomplished together in 2021. We also look forward to what to expect in 2022.

 

What a year! The battles too often feel that they are uphill. Yet we always retain our optimism. We never give up. We never surrender!

 

Here are some of the year’s major highlights in our non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities.

 

  1. This year, we continued to raise serious disability issues in the Ford Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to offer constructive suggestions to those in positions of power. As a primary focus, we battled against the disability discrimination that is deeply rooted in the critical care triage protocol that the Ford Government allowed to be embedded in Ontario hospitals. In this effort, we collaborated closely with the ARCH Disability Law Centre and a team of other disability advocates and experts. We highlighted disability barriers in Ontario’s vaccine distribution and in its vaccine passport system.

 

  1. Working closely with supporters and allies in the disability community, we together convinced Toronto City Council to retain the ban on electric scooters. E-scooters endanger people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.

 

  1. We also presented concerns on allowing e-scooters in public places to Hamilton’s and Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committees and to London City Council’s Civic Works Committee.

 

  1. Working with our allies, we convinced Toronto City Council to pass a ban on robots on sidewalks, which endanger us and others. This win secured media coverage as far away as the UK.

 

  1. We raised disability accessibility issues during the fall 2021 federal election and sought commitments on this topic from the major parties.

 

  1. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky waged a legal battle in court against the Ford Government for its unjustified delay in making public the initial reports it received from the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee, and the Health Care Standards Development Committee. The AODA requires the Government to publicly post those reports upon receiving them, not after long delays. Regrettably, Ontario’s Superior Court dismissed that case as moot, without ruling on the correctness of the claim. This is because the Government finally though belatedly posted those reports online before the case got to court for oral argument.

 

As a step forward for us, during oral argument of that case, the Ford Government’s lawyer conceded for the first time that the Government must post such Standards Development Committee reports online once the steps needed for their posting (coding and translation to French) are completed. In this case, the Ford Government delayed posting those three reports longer than the time needed to complete those steps.

 

  1. With next year’s June Ontario election approaching, we have written to the Ontario political party leaders well in advance to list the election commitments we seek on the issue of accessibility for people with disabilities. This includes a comprehensive Accessibility Plan for Ontario that we developed and to which we ask each party to commit. This Plan will serve as our major agenda for action over the next year and beyond. We are ready to brief any political party on our requests for commitments.

 

This is especially important since it was towards the end of 2021 that the AODA Alliance publicly recognized that at the present rate, it will not be possible for Ontario to reach the mandatory goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, just three years from now. This is due to many years of insufficient action by the Ontario Government to implement and enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

 

  1. We researched, wrote, and submitted a number of detailed briefs on important disability issues, including:

 

  1. a) A brief to the Health Care Standards Development Committee on the barriers facing people with disabilities in Ontario’s health care system.

 

  1. b) A brief to the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee on the barriers facing students with disabilities in Ontario’s colleges and universities.

 

  1. c) A brief to the Ford Government on the disability barriers in the Ontario critical care triage protocol

 

  1. d) A brief to the Ford Government on why it should not allow a public pilot of robots on sidewalks in Ontario.

 

  1. e) A brief to Toronto City Council on why it should not allow e-scooters.

 

  1. f) A brief to London Ontario City Council on why it should not allow e-scooters.

 

You can look through all the briefs that the AODA Alliance has prepared and submitted over the years on various accessibility issues by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s briefs page.

 

  1. We continued to raise major objections to any Government reliance on the seriously flawed Rick Hansen Foundation private accessibility “certification” program. It does not provide an accurate and reliable assessment of a building’s accessibility. For details on these documented concerns, see the AODA Alliance’s July 3, 2019 report on the RHF program and the AODA Alliance’s August 15, 2019 supplemental report on the RHF program.

 

  1. We again brought our message and a wide range of issues to the public through conventional media and through social media. For example, we issued thousands of tweets again this year on Twitter. In a wide spectrum of our advocacy activity, we secured media attention in print, on TV, and on the radio. In a good many cases, it was the media that came to us for comment, rather than the other way around.

 

  1. This year, we released new online captioned videos that help people with disabilities, the Government and the public learn more about our issues. These videos got an impressive number of views and very positive feedback. Prominent among these are the new video that introduces you to the duty to accommodate people with disabilities and the video that gives an in-depth explanation of the disability discrimination in Ontario’s critical care triage protocol.

 

  1. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky continued to serve on behalf of the AODA Alliance as a member of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee. Its initial report on barriers facing students with disabilities was made public for public consultation on June 1, 2021. It received very positive feedback from the disability community and from educators. That Standards Development Committee is now in the last stages of finalizing revisions to the report based on all the public feedback. The Standards Development Committee aims to conduct its final vote on its final report in the first week of January 2022.

 

  1. Where positive steps are taken on accessibility, we remain ready to acknowledge and applaud them. We also have continued to hold the Ontario Government publicly accountable for its insufficient action on accessibility. For example, this year we continued to publicize our daily count of the number of days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act conducted by David Onley. As of today, that count has reached 1,058 days. We are still waiting for the Ford Government to announce a comprehensive plan to effectively implement that report’s recommendations.

 

Thus, it has been a busy year for our volunteer efforts. Next year will be at least as busy as 2021 was for advocacy by Ontarians with disabilities. Our foreseeable challenges in the next year include raising disability issues in the June 2022 Ontario provincial election and in the October 2022 Ontario municipal and school board elections.

 

We will have to continue battling disability barriers created during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 pandemic racing out of control, we face the terrible need to again battle against the disability-discriminatory Ontario critical care triage protocol. We also need to get the Ford Government to remove disability discrimination from its process for renewing the Ontario Health Card online. Those are just two prominent examples of health care barriers facing people with disabilities.

 

Final reports are expected in the new year from the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee and the Health Care Standards Development Committee. We will press for the swift enactment of accessibility standards that implement those reports’ recommendations.

 

We will need to continue to battle new barriers, traceable to the Ford Government, created by allowing electric scooters and potentially by allowing robots on sidewalks.

 

No doubt, there will also be new disability issues that we have not been able to predict. We’ll be ready!

 

Once again, we thank all our supporters for their help and their encouragement as we together press forward with our non-partisan accessibility campaign. We also thank all those, including the silent heroes who cannot speak out, within the Ontario Government, school boards, city governments and private organizations and businesses who have tried in their own way to make progress on accessibility for people with disabilities. We wish one and all a safe, happy and barrier-free holiday season.

 

The AODA Alliance is now going offline for a while to re-charge our advocacy batteries. We’ll be back in full flight in January 2022. Stay safe, and have a healthy and happy new year.

More Media Coverage on the Dangers to People with Disabilities that Robots on Sidewalks Would Pose

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

More Media Coverage on the Dangers to People with Disabilities that Robots on Sidewalks Would Pose

 

December 13, 2021

 

            SUMMARY

 

1. Disability Objections to Allowing Robots on Public Sidewalks Get More Media Attention

 

The Saturday, December 11, 2021 Toronto Star’s Business Section included an excellent, detailed article on disability objections to allowing robots on sidewalks. Read that article, below.

 

As well, City TV News recently ran two items on this issue, on November 16, 2021 and on December 8, 2021

 

Before Toronto City Council votes on a proposal to ban robots from Toronto sidewalks, we remind you that it would really help if you urge Toronto Mayor John Tory and Toronto City Council members to vote for that ban. Here are the email addresses for all members of Toronto City Council, which you can copy and paste right into an email:

 

mayor_tory@toronto.ca, councillor_ainslie@toronto.ca, councillor_bailao@toronto.ca, councillor_bradford@toronto.ca, councillor_carroll@toronto.ca, councillor_colle8@toronto.ca, councillor_crawford@toronto.ca, councillor_cressy@toronto.ca, councillor_filion@toronto.ca, councillor_fletcher@toronto.ca, councillor_mford@toronto.ca, councillor_grimes@toronto.ca, councillor_holyday@toronto.ca, councillor_lai@toronto.ca, councillor_layton@toronto.ca, councillor_mantas@toronto.ca, councillor_matlow@toronto.ca, councillor_mckelvie@toronto.ca, councillor_minnan-wong@toronto.ca, councillor_nunziata@toronto.ca, councillor_pasternak@toronto.ca, councillor_perks@toronto.ca, councillor_perruzza@toronto.ca, councillor_robinson@toronto.ca, councillor_thompson@toronto.ca, councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca

 

Read AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s December 9, 2021 guest column in the Toronto Star’s Metroland newspapers about the dangers that robots on sidewalks pose for people with disabilities.

 

2. Reminder to Sign Up to Tell Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee at its December 14, 2021 Virtual Meeting to Oppose Electric Scooters

 

It is not too late! Sign up to tell the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee at its December 14, 2021 virtual meeting that it should call on Ottawa City Council not to allow e-scooters, whether privately owned, or rented, in public spaces. Information on this meeting, and on how to sign up for it, is available in the December 10, 2021 AODA Alliance Update.

 

At this meeting, we will recommend that the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee pass a motion such as this:

 

“The Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee recommends as follows:

 

  1. a) The City of Ottawa not conduct any more pilots that allow electric scooters to be ridden in any public places in Ottawa, whether the e-scooter is owned by or rented by the rider.

 

  1. b) The City of Ottawa should not lift the legal ban now in effect on riding e-scooters in public places.

 

  1. c) The City of Ottawa should enforce the legal ban on riding e-scooters in public places.”

 

3. Electric Scooters and Sidewalk Robots Are Illustrations of the Ford Government Failing to Show Strong Leadership on Accessibility for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

 

The cruel fact that people with disabilities must battle at the local municipal level against new barriers like e-scooters and robots on sidewalks is due to the Ford Government failing to show leadership on disability accessibility. This is part of a bigger picture.

 

A jaw-dropping 1,047 days have now passed since the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that was conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. It found that Ontario is full of “soul-crushing barriers” facing people with disabilities, and that progress on accessibility has been “glacial.” It concluded that the AODA’s promise of an accessible province for Ontarians with disabilities is nowhere in sight.

 

Read the AODA Alliance’s November 22, 2021 letter to Ontario’s political party leaders. It sets out the election pledges on accessibility for people with disabilities that we seek in the June 2022 Ontario election.

 

            MORE DETAILS

 

 

 

Toronto’s pink delivery robots have been pulled off the streets and may be banned next week — but is that the right move?

By Sean Frankling

Toronto Star December 11, 2021

 

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/business/2021/12/11/torontos-pink-delivery-robots-have-been-pulled-off-the-streets-and-may-be-banned-next-week-but-is-that-the-right-move.jaws2021html

 

Tiny Mile has pulled its pink robots off Toronto’s sidewalks, and they may be banned for good next week. But is that the right move for the city?

 

David Lepofsky uses a white cane as he walks to sweep the path in front of him for tripping hazards.

 

The retired lawyer, who teaches law part time at the University of Toronto’s Osgoode Hall, has been blind much of his life.

 

Lepofsky, who is also chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, learned to navigate Toronto’s streets when they were relatively clear of today’s modern distractions.

 

An explosion in construction sites and, more recently, sidewalk patios – a pandemic city initiative that permitted restaurants to expand outdoor dining areas onto sidewalks – have meant an increase in obstacles for Lepofsky as of late.

 

It’s a frustrating step back for the accessibility advocate. “These are new barriers that humans are creating in a society that’s meant to be getting more accessible,” he says.

 

At least one of those new barriers – remotely piloted delivery robots – will face a vote on its fate at Toronto City Hall next week.

 

In response to the concerns of advocates like Lepofsky, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee is calling fora ban on delivery robots and their ilk, with city council to vote on the recommendation Dec. 15.

 

“It’s great that this is moving up to city council on a recommendation that these be banned,” says Lepofsky. “It says to the province, ‘You should put the breaks on this. This is not such a good idea.'”

 

While disability advocates such as Lepofsky are rooting for the vote to succeed, robotics industry experts are looking for solutions beyond an outright ban.

 

Meanwhile, the owners of Toronto’s only existing robot-delivery service – Tiny Mile – fear the ban would close their doors for good.

 

Tiny Mile’s CEO, Ignacio Tartavull, hears Lepofsky’s concerns. On Thursday, the company announced it has temporarily taken its robots off Toronto’s streets while it awaits the outcome of the vote.

 

Lepofsky has already spent the last couple of years campaigning against an Ontario government pilot project that allows municipalities to decide for themselves whether to allow e-scooters on public roads and sidewalks, which he calls a nightmare for people with disabilities.

 

He wants them banned province-wide, not just in some cities.

 

“At any time there could be a silent menace racing at me at 20 km/h. A sidewalk that was safe becomes one where I could go flying over.”

 

He wasn’t expecting to have to arm himself against another pilot project – at least, not so soon.

 

But then came the robots.

 

In November, the Ministry of Transportation concluded public consultation on a proposed 10-year pilot project that would allow companies across Ontario to operate so-called micro-utility devices – autonomous or remotely piloted robots – on public sidewalks for purposes like delivery service and snow shovelling.

 

The pilot, which doesn’t yet have a date set to proceed, is meant to assess the safety of integrating this new technology into the urban environment.

 

It would require human oversight of the robots, but not a person on-site. Instead, a remote operator or supervisor could watch via camera feed.

 

The robots would be subject to a speed limit of 10 km/h on sidewalks and 20 km/h in bike lanes, and must weigh less than 125 kg and be no more than 74 cm wide, though automated snowplows would have no size restrictions.

 

The pilot would also require operators to clearly label the company’s name on their robots, provide constant human oversight via camera with a safe-stop feature, mandatory collision reporting, and a minimum $25-million worth of general liability insurance for participating firms.

 

Municipalities would have the option to opt in – or out – the logic being that each local government knows their infrastructure best. Next week’s vote will determine whether to ban these robots before the pilot ever takes effect here.

 

Lepofsky says this approach just fragments a discussion that should be consistent across the province.

 

“That means that people with disabilities go from having a provincial rule to having to fight in one municipality after another.”

 

While he’s skeptical that the technology behind remotely piloted robots is up to the task of safely sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians, it’s the challenge of regulating them that has Lepofsky most concerned.

 

When a cyclist or an e-scooter rider gets in an accident or breaks a rule, the person liable is right there on the vehicle, says Lepofsky.

 

With an unmanned robot, the person responsible may not even be present, making it difficult to track them down, or even to proceed with a lawsuit, he says, stressing it’s too difficult to hold operators responsible in the event their robot causes an accident.

 

“The law isn’t just what’s on the books, it’s what you can enforce,” says Lepofsky.

 

Many experts in the robotics industry agree with his concerns, even if they don’t share his enthusiasm for an outright ban.

 

“(Robots) are a new source of friction, and there’s bound to be conflict,” says Shauna Brail, who just completed a report for Transport Canada looking into Canada’s policy preparedness for the rise of robot-based delivery services.

 

Brail, a professor of urban planning and economic development at the University of Toronto, says while it’s important to investigate what new technologies can do to improve urban life, those uses have to be done in balance with the normal use of public property.

 

“They’re an incompatible use if they make the sidewalk unstable for a person,” she says.

 

Brail’s report examined regulations governing robot delivery in Toronto, Calgary, San Francisco and a dozen other state and city jurisdictions in the U.S.

 

The key take-aways?

 

First, robots are already out there making deliveries in many of the jurisdictions they scanned.

 

Second; the laws around their use across Canada and the U.S. are well behind the technology, particularly in Toronto.

 

Before the ministry’s proposed pilot, the city had no regulations for sidewalk robots at all. They’ve been operating in a grey area – not illegal, but not allowed, either, says Brail.

 

And in the absence of government guidance, it’s been the companies building the robots that have led the drive to regulate them, she says.

 

Toronto startup Tiny Mile’s pink robots have been rolling along downtown streets daily for about a year, delivering takeout food, among other items.

 

A suite of cameras feed data to a remote driver who steers the robots with the aid of an on-board collision-avoidance system that detects when a robot is approaching an obstacle and automatically stops before it can hit it.

 

So far, the company says, in the “tens of thousands of kilometres” travelled, it’s had no reports of accidents. Tiny Mile has up to 20 robots on the streets at any given time.

 

“Tiny Mile is keenly interested in working with the accessibility community, hence we are calling out people who will be interested in shaping our technology with their immediate expertise and experience to help us not only make our robots safer for our community, but also greatly benefit people with disabilities,” the company said on its Instagram page in making the announcement Thursday.

 

Tartavull told the Star his robots put safety first, using their sensors and safety software to ensure the human operators can identify people moving slowly or using mobility devices and steer clear to give them plenty of space.

 

His robots’ low weight (4.5 kg), and easy speed (6 km/h), says Tartavull, pose no threat to pedestrians, a claim he says he tested personally by crashing them repeatedly into himself to make sure they couldn’t injure him.

 

“I went to the point of making myself the crash dummy. We don’t put anything on the street we don’t trust.”

 

Lepofsky isn’t buying it. No amount of testing and avoidance can guarantee a robot won’t become a tripping hazard, he says, especially if one breaks down in a public walkway.

 

While Tartavull says it’s inevitable that the robots will sometimes break down – he estimates it happens once every two or three months – the small service area allows for a team to pick up the out-of-commission robot within minutes, he says.

 

Tartavull says any conversation about regulating robots on city streets must take into account what they can offer to business and society.

 

Far from just being an obstacle, he says, “(robots) can be amazing for the disabled. It’s 2 a.m., it’s freezing cold. Wouldn’t you rather pay 50 cents for a robot to bring you those drugs you need from the pharmacy (than go out there yourself)?”

 

He argues that robotic delivery offers solutions to help with everything from traffic congestion to greenhouse gas emissions to the high cost of services like Uber Eats.

 

“It’s actually firms that are driving the initiative to regulate,” Brail says. But it’s not in Canadians’ best interest to let them lead the whole conversation, she adds.

 

“It can give a very one-sided perspective on what regulation should look like,” Brail says. “It needs to be a conversation about what does society need. And you need government to lead that.”

 

Queen’s University professor Joshua Marshall, who has spent his career developing robots for deployment alongside human workers in mining and industrial settings, agrees that testing should happen before a new technology goes into the real world, not after.

 

Marshall says engineers have a responsibility to consult everyone who might be affected before any machine goes into a workplace or into the public. “These people need to be at the table. We need all stakeholders involved. If there’s a problem, we need to identify it early, before something happens that we don’t want.”

 

Marshall also stresses the importance of rigorous testing and development for robots being used around pedestrians, starting with computer simulations and then working up to controlled environments mimicking real-world conditions.

 

But while the Ministry of Transportation say it is incorporating the feedback from the public consultation phase and considering adding more rules, the pilot project doesn’t lay out any requirements for how much testing and consultation companies must do before they put their robots on the streets.

 

“I think the problem is that you have this app development attitude of ‘moving fast and breaking things’ that’s been elevated almost to a religion among some technologists,” says Jason Millar, a University of Ottawa professor and holder of the Canada research chair in robotics.

 

But we can’t afford to be so loose when talking about technology that has a physical presence, he says.

 

“An app isn’t going to break down and leave a couple-hundred-pound impediment in the sidewalk.”

 

This is one reason Marshall and Millar agree on the need for Canada to develop a national strategy on robotics to match the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy announced in 2017 to be led and developed by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

 

The AI strategy lays out ways to attract researchers, foster collaboration and educate the public, aimed at making Canada a leader in the emerging field of artificial intelligence development. But it also creates a framework to educate policy-makers to lead discussions on the ethical and social issues that come with the technology.

 

As Marshall describes it, a national robotics strategy would need to follow the AI strategy’s lead: planning for the re-skilling necessary as automation gets integrated into life and workplaces, while also leading the conversation toward industry-wide standards for safety, testing and stakeholder consultation.

 

“We need to be thinking about how can (disability advocates) elevate a concern to get meaningful, transparent answers from the companies that are developing these technologies,” says Millar.

 

A proper approach should create standards at the national level so when concerned citizens like Lepofsky speak out, their voices join a unified conversation, not just a local disagreement, he says.

 

For Tiny Mile, says CEO Tartavull, the future hinges on the outcome of Toronto city council’s vote.

 

“If we get banned, we won’t have money to move to any other city. So that would be the end of Tiny Mile, unfortunately.”

 

New Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in Metroland Papers Explains that Toronto Should Ban Robots on Sidewalks because of the Danger They Pose for People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

New Guest Column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in Metroland Papers Explains that Toronto Should Ban Robots on Sidewalks because of the Danger They Pose for People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others

 

December 10, 2021

            SUMMARY

Here’s a new way you can help people with disabilities get Toronto City Council to ban robots on sidewalks when it meets on December 15 and 16, 2021. Please widely circulate a new guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, set out below. It appears in the Toronto Star’s local Metroland papers. It explains why robots on sidewalks endanger people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.

Also, send this guest column to your member of the Ontario Legislature. The Ford Government is planning to allow an exceptionally long 10-year pilot with robots on sidewalks whenever a municipality opts into the pilot. We need the Ford Government to call off those plans which are still under consideration. The Ford Government should instead impose a provincewide ban on robots on sidewalks.

The December 10, 2021 edition of the Globe and Mail reports that one company that already unleashed its robots on Toronto sidewalks has now decided to temporarily pull those robots off the sidewalks up until Toronto City Council votes on the proposed ban next week. In that article, set out below, the company in question expressed a passionate desire to work with “the accessibility community” to ensure the safety of its delivery robots. This sounds remarkably like what the corporate lobbyists for the electric scooter rental companies said on the eve of Toronto City Council voting last spring against allowing e-scooters in Toronto.

For more on this, read the AODA Alliance’s December 7, 2021 letter to Toronto City Council, urging them to vote to ban robots on sidewalks. You can also visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page to learn about our battle to protect people with disabilities, seniors, kids and others from the dangers that e-scooters pose when ridden in public places.

            MORE DETAILS

toronto.com December 2019

Metroland News

Originally posted at https://www.toronto.com/opinion-story/10536197-toronto-must-ban-service-robots-from-its-sidewalks/

Opinion

Toronto must ban service robots from its sidewalks

‘Robots can be a tripping hazard or a collision danger,’ writes David Lepofsky

BY DAVID LEPOFSKY

David Lepofsky is a lawyer and advocate for people with disabilities in Toronto. – David Lepofsky photo

Toronto must ban robots from sidewalks, like robots delivering packages. They endanger safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. People can remain free to use robots on their property.

Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and Infrastructure Committee wisely recommended banning sidewalk robots. On Dec. 15 to 16, city council votes on this.

Ford’s Government said robots on sidewalks are unregulated, causing a free-for-all. Ford’s proposed solution, a ten-year sidewalk robots pilot at municipal option, shirks much-needed provincial leadership.

Blind people like me risk not knowing that a robot is heading right at us or in our path. Those robots can be a tripping hazard, or a collision danger.

For people who use wheelchairs, those robots risk becoming an access barrier in their path. If you have balance issues, robots brushing by could send you toppling.

Sidewalks are publicly funded, created for pedestrians. Roads are for vehicles. Sidewalks already have too many accessibility barriers, increasingly cluttered by street furniture, art, signs, plants and restaurant seating.

To allow these robots would be to knowingly create a serious new disability barrier. The Disabilities Act requires Ontario to become accessible by 2025. Far behind that schedule, Toronto can’t afford to create new barriers.

If police or the public encounter a robot on a public sidewalk, they should be free to dispose of it. That would end the problem.

If robots are allowed on sidewalks, enforcing the law will be exceedingly difficult. The victim won’t know who to sue or prosecute for their injuries.

A robot might have a bogus company name on it. You cannot prosecute or sue a robot, or make it produce an insurance policy.

It’s no solution to require the robot’s company name to also be in braille. Imagine a blind person chasing a robot, with one hand on their white cane, and their other hand searching for the robot’s braille label.

It’s also no solution to require robots to have a remote driver. That cannot be policed. You can’t know from looking at a robot whether it has a remote driver somewhere at all, much less a sober one who is properly trained and attentive to steering. A remote driver could undetectably steer several robots simultaneously, dangerously dividing their attention. The public can’t know if a remote driver is in Ontario, or halfway around the world, unreachable by Ontario police.

We don’t oppose innovation. We daily innovate in our lives and regularly use innovative technology. We just oppose innovations that endanger us.

Before any government allows robots on sidewalks, they must consult police on how robots, disguised as a store’s delivery vehicle, could in the wrong hands be perverted into a dreadful weapon. Pedestrian safety is our top priority.

David Lepofsky is chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and visiting professor, Osgoode Hall Law School.

 The Globe and Mail December 10, 2021

(2021-12-10)

Report on Business

Toronto company temporarily pulls pink delivery robots off sidewalks

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO – A technology company says it will temporarily take its food delivery robots off Toronto’s streets as the city considers whether to ban such devices from sidewalks.

Tiny Mile, the company behind a series of pink, heart-eyed robots named Geoffrey, says it is making the temporary move because it wants to collaborate with authorities and the accessibility community.

Toronto’s city council will vote next week on whether to ban devices that run on anything but muscle power from bike lanes, sidewalks and pedestrian ways.

The ban was put forward by the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, which felt the robots are a hazards for people with low mobility or vision, as well as seniors and other children.

The ban cleared its first hurdle last week, when it was approved by the city’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee, but Tiny Mile vowed to fight the move and circulated a petition on its social-media pages.

The company now says on Instagram that it will seek feedback from the public and people with disabilities while it pauses public use of its robots.

“Tiny Mile is keenly interested in working with the accessibility community, hence we are calling out people who will be interested in shaping our technology with their immediate expertise and experience to help us not only make our robots safer for our community, but also greatly benefit people with disabilities,” the company said.

Sign Up to Tell Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee to Publicly and Strongly Oppose Electric Scooters that Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Sign Up to Tell Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee to Publicly and Strongly Oppose Electric Scooters that Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others

 

December 10, 2021

 

            SUMMARY

 

Please contact the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee as soon as you can! Sign up to speak at its virtual online meeting at 6 pm on Tuesday December 14, 2021 and advocate that it should recommend that Ottawa stop allowing electric scooters (e-scooters). E-scooters endanger safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.

 

The public announcement of the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting is set out below. To sign up to speak at that meeting, email or phone Carole Legault:

 

CaroleA.Legault@Ottawa.ca or 613-580-2424 ext. 28934.

 

If you don’t want to speak at that meeting, you can email your comments, and ask that your feedback be shared with the Accessibility Advisory Committee.

 

Two years ago, the Ford Government ignored serious disability concerns when it gave every municipality the power to lift the ban on e-scooters. It allows them for a so-called “pilot” for up to five years.

 

Right in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Ottawa jumped on the e-scooters bandwagon. It did so despite strong warnings, conveyed right to the office of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, that e-scooters endanger safety and accessibility for people with disabilities. It was obvious that the e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists had the inside track to Ottawa’s mayor and City Council, just as they earlier had the inside track to Premier Doug Ford.

 

Ottawa has now held two successive “pilot projects” with e-scooters. Feedback from people with disabilities demonstrates that e-scooters create serious dangers for people with disabilities, seniors and others. What occurred was exactly what we warned the office of Ottawa’s mayor about before Ottawa plowed forward, regardless of those dangers.

 

An e- scooter corporate lobbyist told a City of Toronto public meeting last spring that Ottawa is “the gold standard” for e-scooters. Instead, Ottawa is in fact the model of what should never be allowed to happen. E-scooters ridden on sidewalks, without effective law enforcement have been combined with e-scooters lying on city sidewalks, as tripping hazards and accessibility barriers.

 

Here is a chance to speak up. We need you to be heard, whether you live in the Ottawa area, or would like to be able to visit Ottawa without having to endure the dangers that e-scooters present. We need Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee to issue a strong, public and categorical recommendation that Ottawa not allow e-scooters, now that those two successive pilot projects have finished. We don’t need or want limits or controls on e-scooters. They don’t work. We need e-scooters banned, pure and simple. People with disabilities need and deserve nothing less.

 

We need the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee to issue a very public recommendation to this effect. If it does not happen in public, it does not have the political punch that people with disabilities need. Given the obvious influence of the e-scooter corporate lobbyists, we need all the help we can get in this uphill battle. With a municipal election happening next fall, it is important for all municipal politicians and candidates to pledge to unequivocally support pedestrian safety.

 

The Accessibility Advisory Committee of Toronto, London and Mississauga each issued strong recommendations that e-scooters should not be allowed in public places including both roads and sidewalks, and including both rental e-scooters and privately-owned e-scooters. People with disabilities in Ottawa deserve and need the same from the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee, which is supposed to be a strong voice for their safety and accessibility.

 

What kinds of dangers can e-scooters pose to pedestrians? We invite you to thumb through a pile of 25 deeply disturbing news articles that we have amassed from communities around the world that have allowed e-scooters. They report on a litany of injuries and even deaths. Our concern is with e-scooters, whether they are rented or privately owned.

 

We anticipate that Ottawa City staff will make some sort of a presentation to the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee at this meeting. We are eager to hear what they say. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky recently spoke to the Ottawa City staff member assigned to this project. They had not even read the excellent reports on disability problems with e-scooters that the Toronto City staff had produced and made public months ago. David Lepofsky thereafter sent those reports to Ottawa City staff. We hope Toronto’s exhaustive research will be fully reflected in the Ottawa City staff report.

 

If you sign up for this Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting, you certainly don’t need to plan to speak for long. The Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee will likely only allow you five minutes to speak.

 

On Thursday, December 9, 2021, CBC Radio Ottawa’s afternoon program “All In A Day” included an interview on disability issues. It included AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, Wayne Antle who heads Ottawa’s chapter of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, and a volunteer from Stopgap Ottawa. Among other things, they discussed the serious dangers that e-scooters have created for people with disabilities in Ottawa.

 

To learn more about our battle to keep the public safe in Ontario from e-scooters, check out the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

 

               MORE DETAILS

 

NOTICE OF A SPECIAL ACCESSIBILITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING

 

Please be advised that in accordance with Subsection 10 (1) of the Advisory Committee Procedure By-law, the Chair of the Accessibility Advisory Committee has called a Special Meeting for Tuesday, December 14, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. for the purpose of considering the following item:

 

E-Scooters Pilot Project Update

 

This Meeting will be held through electronic participation in accordance with Section 238 of the Municipal Act, 2001 as amended by Bill 197, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020. The chosen technology for this particular meeting is Zoom.

 

This email constitutes notice of this special meeting to all Members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee in accordance with Subsection 10 (2) (b) of the Procedure By-law.

 

What election pledges has the AODA Alliance asked Ontario’s party leaders to make in the June 2022 provincial election on disability accessibility? Read the AODA Alliance’s November 22, 2021 letter to Ontario’s party leaders.

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/

 

 

November 22, 2021

 

To: Hon. Premier Doug Ford, Premier

Via Email: doug.ford@ontariopc.com

Room 281, Legislative Building

Queen’s Park

Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

 

Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition

Via email: ahorwath-qp@ndp.on.ca

Room 113, Legislative Building

Queen’s Park

Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A5

 

Mike Schreiner, Leader — Green Party of Ontario:

Via email: leader@gpo.ca

Room 451 Legislative Building

Queen’s Park

Toronto, ON M7A 1A2

 

Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party

Via email: steven@ontarioliberal.ca

344 Bloor St W,

Toronto On, M5S 1W9

 

 

Dear Party Leaders,

 

Re: Seeking your Parties’ 2022 Election Commitments to Make Ontario Accessible for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

 

We write in a spirit of non-partisanship to ask your Parties to pledge in advance of the June 2, 2022 Ontario election, to implement our proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario (set out below). Our non-partisan grass-roots community coalition seeks the achievement of an accessible Ontario for people with disabilities, through the prompt, effective implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

 

Below we set out specific commitments that we seek in order to make Ontario accessible to over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. Taken together, they constitute the much-needed Accessibility Plan for Ontario that we ask your parties to each endorse.

 

In each Ontario election since 1995, some or all parties made election commitments on this. They did so in letters to the AODA Alliance, or before 2005, to our predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.

 

We write over six months before the election, because these are big, important issues. We will make public responses we receive.

 

 These Commitments are Vital

 

For people with disabilities, Ontario is at a very troubling crossroads. We must seek a substantial list of commitments, because of the Government’s cumulative failures to effectively implement and enforce the AODA for years.

 

People with disabilities had tenaciously advocated for a decade from 1994 to 2005 to get the AODA enacted. It was an historic day in 2005 when the Legislature unanimously passed the landmark AODA.

 

The AODA requires the Government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, twenty years after it was enacted. The Government must enact and enforce all the accessibility standards needed to lead Ontario to that goal.

 

Accessibility standards are enforceable provincial regulations. They are to specify, on an economic sector-by-sector basis, the disability barriers that an organization must remove or prevent, and the time lines for action, to become accessible to people with disabilities. For example, the Transportation Accessibility Standard is meant to spell out the actions that transit providers must take to tear down barriers that impede passengers with disabilities from fully using and benefitting from their transit services.

 

Since 2005, we have vigourously advocated to get the AODA effectively implemented and enforced. There has been some progress since 2005. However, it has been too little and too slow.

 

With great pain and frustration, we have reached a wrenching turning point. Ontario must recognize that Ontario will not reach the goal of being accessible by 2025. Responsibility for this entirely avoidable failure spreads out over many years. We reach this hurtful crossroads despite the grassroots efforts of many to get the AODA fully and effectively implemented.

 

People with disabilities know from their daily life experience that we are now at this painful turning point. Reinforcing this, in January 2019, the third Government-appointed Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, found that progress on accessibility in Ontario has been “glacial.” Ontarians with disabilities still confront a myriad of “soul-crushing barriers.” For them, Ontario is not a place of opportunity. The 2025 accessibility goal was nowhere in sight.

 

No one disputed these Onley Report findings. On April 10, 2019, the Government told the Legislature that David Onley did a “marvelous job.”

 

There has been no significant progress since the Onley Report on actually removing and preventing disability barriers. The AODA’s implementation and enforcement have not been strengthened or sped up.

 

Undermining the AODA’s purpose, new disability barriers have been created since the release of the Onley Report. People with disabilities disproportionately bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and its worst impacts. Yet the Government’s emergency COVID-19 planning has not effectively addressed people with disabilities’ urgent needs.

 

For example, a new critical care triage protocol, systematically embedded in Ontario hospitals, enshrines discrimination against some patients with disabilities in access to life-saving care, if hospital overloads require rationing of critical care beds. Another example of new barriers traceable to the Ontario Government are electric scooters, which are ridden by uninsured and unlicensed joy-riders in public and which now endanger people with disabilities, seniors and others in some Cities on a daily basis.

 

The AODA does not vanish on January 1, 2025. It remains the law of Ontario. The Government will remain responsible for leading its implementation and enforcement.

 

The Government elected on June 2, 2022 will be in power when the AODA’s January 1, 2025 deadline for accessibility arrives. That Government needs to have a plan of action. We here offer a carefully-designed one, based on our years of experience on the front lines, and ask you to pledge to implement it.

 

 What Went Wrong?

 

Why do we ask your parties to endorse and commit to our proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario, set out below? What led to this predicament? First, despite strong unanimous support for the AODA when it was passed, and a good start on implementing it in the early years, it substantially dropped as a Government priority after that. Premier after premier failed to show the strong leadership on this issue that Ontarians with disabilities needed, which three successive Government-appointed Independent Reviews of the AODA called for. Second, the AODA accessibility standards passed to date, while helpful, are not strong enough. They do not cover all or even a majority of the recurring barriers that people with disabilities face. Third, the Government’s enforcement of the AODA has been weak and ineffective. Fourth, the Government has not used all the other levers of power conveniently available to it to promote accessibility for people with disabilities.

 

For over a decade, successive governments and ministers have been told about the need to strengthen and speed up the AODA’s implementation. They received strong, practical recommendations on how to do this. This all came from Ontario’s disability community, and from the reports of three successive mandatory Government-appointed Independent Reviews of the AODA. The report of the first AODA Independent Review, conducted by Charles Beer, was made public in May 2010. The report of the second AODA Independent Review, conducted by former University of Toronto Law Dean Mayo Moran, was made public in February 2015. The report of the third AODA Independent Review, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, was made public in March 2019.

 

Our Proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario In a Nutshell

 

The 2022 election is the most pivotal one for Ontarians with disabilities since the 2003 election. This is because Ontario is on the verge of failing to comply with the AODA’s mandatory deadline. We need Ontario’s Government, elected on June 2, 2022, to commit to a bold plan of strong new action on disability accessibility, targeted at two goals. First, Ontario must get as close to full accessibility for people with disabilities as is possible by 2025. Second, Ontario must thereafter get the rest of the way to full accessibility as soon as possible after 2025.

 

In summary, our proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario that we set out below, and to which we ask you to commit, includes requests that your party each agree to:

 

  1. Foster and strengthen our ongoing relationship with your party.
  2. Show strong leadership on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.
  3. Protect the gains on accessibility that people with disabilities have made so far.
  4. Enact a comprehensive Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA.
  5. Enact a comprehensive Health Care Accessibility Standard under the AODA.
  6. Strengthen the Employment, Transportation and Information and Communication Accessibility Standards.
  7. Enact a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA.
  8. Enact an Accessible Housing Accessibility Standard under the AODA and create an Accessible Housing Strategy.
  9. Strengthen the weak Customer Service Accessibility Standard, enacted under the AODA.
  10. Develop additional new Accessibility Standards under the AODA, needed to make Ontario accessible to people with disabilities.
  11. Speed up the excessively long process for developing and enacting AODA Accessibility Standards.
  12. Substantially strengthen AODA enforcement to ensure that all requirements under the AODA are effectively enforced.
  13. Substantially reform and improve how the Ministry of Education and Ontario school system address the needs of students with disabilities.
  14. Ensure that new generations of design professionals (like architects) are not trained to be new barrier-creators.
  15. Ensure that taxpayers’ money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.
  16. Establish free independent technical accessibility advice for obligated organizations.
  17. Make provincial and municipal elections accessible to voters with disabilities.
  18. Substantially improve the accessibility of the Ontario Public Service’s workplaces, services and facilities.
  19. Review all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers.
  20. Root out recently-created new disability barriers traceable to the Ontario Government.
  21. Give no more public money to the problematic and unreliable Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility “certification” program.

 

Following Up on This Letter

 

Please respond to this request by February 1, 2022. Email us at aodafeedback@gmail.com. Please send your response in MS Word format, and not as a pdf, because the pdf format presents serious accessibility problems. We would be pleased to provide background briefings or to answer any questions you may have.

 

Our coalition addresses disability accessibility. We urge you to also take very seriously the requests you will receive from community groups for election pledges on other important disability issues, such as the pressing need to strengthen income supports like ODSP to tackle the protracted, rampant poverty among far too many Ontarians with disabilities.

 

Our non-partisan coalition does not support or oppose any party or candidate. We aim to secure the strongest commitments from each party.

 

Sincerely,

 

David Lepofsky, CM, O. Ont.

Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

 

 

 

A Proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario – 2022 Ontario Election Commitments Requested by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

 

 I. Leadership Commitments

 

 a) Foster and Strengthen Our Ongoing Relationship with Your Party

 

Our coalition and its pre-2005 predecessor (the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee) have been recognized in the Legislature and elsewhere for our leadership and advocacy for and expertise in disability accessibility. We offer input and advice to the Government and to opposition parties.

 

#1. As Premier, will you periodically meet with us to discuss issues concerning persons with disabilities and accessibility, including once within the first four months of taking office?

 

#2. If your Party does not form the Government, will you meet with us periodically? Will your Party raise our concerns in the Legislature, including in Question Period?

 

 b) Show Strong Leadership on Accessibility

 

Three successive Independent Reviews of the AODA concluded that Ontario needs strong new leadership within the Ontario Government on accessibility for people with disabilities, starting with the premier.

 

#3. As premier, will you show strong leadership on the issue of accessibility for people with disabilities? Will you substantially strengthen and accelerate the AODA’s implementation?

 

#4. Will you commit to get Ontario as close as possible to the goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025? Will you also announce and implement a plan to get Ontario to reach full accessibility as soon as possible after 2025, if the 2025 deadline is missed?

 

Ontario has not had in place a comprehensive multi-year plan for implementing the AODA. We and others urged the Government for years to establish such a plan, and have offered proposals.

 

#5. Within four months of taking office, and after consulting the public including people with disabilities, will you announce a comprehensive action plan for ensuring that the Government leads Ontario to become as close as possible to full accessibility by 2025 for people with disabilities, and if the 2025 goal is not reached, to reach the goal of accessibility for people with disabilities as soon as possible after 2025?

 

#6. Will you assign a stand-alone minister responsible for disability issues, who will periodically meet with us? Will other ministers with responsibility bearing on our issues also meet with us?

 

The Government needs to lead by a good example. Yet it has not done so. Examples are given below where the Ontario Government itself is violating the AODA.

 

#7. Will you comply with the AODA?

 

 c) Protect the Gains on Accessibility that People with Disabilities Have Made So Far

 

It is vital that the AODA not be opened up in the Legislature or amended in any way.

 

#8. Will you ensure that no amendments to the AODA will be made?

 

#9. Do you agree not to eliminate or reduce any provisions or protections in the AODA or its regulations, or in policies or initiatives within the Ontario Government that promote its objectives, or any rights of persons with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code?

 

 II. Develop and Enact Needed New Accessibility Standards Under the AODA

 

The AODA requires the Government to enact all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. The Government must then enforce those accessibility standards. When done right, these accessibility standards help business and public sector organizations know what to do. They contribute to the profitability and success of these organizations.

 

Since 2005, the Ontario Government has enacted five accessibility standards. They address disability barriers in customer service, employment, information and communication, transportation, and a very limited range of built environment barriers in “public spaces,” mostly outside buildings.

 

The Moran and Onley AODA Independent Reviews concluded that Ontario needs to enact more accessibility standards to address all the many recurring disability barriers that Ontarians with disabilities face. Yet no new AODA accessibility standards have been enacted since 2012, in almost a decade.

 

The AODA requires that each AODA accessibility standard must be independently reviewed by a Government-appointed Standards Development Committee after five years, to see if it needs strengthening. Only one of Ontario’s five accessibility standards has ever been revised. That was in June 2016, over half a decade ago. That is so even though four separate Government-appointed Standards Development Committees found that the four accessibility standards they reviewed all need to be strengthened.

 

We need the Ontario Government to develop and enact new accessibility standards, and to strengthen all the existing accessibility standards. The weak and limited accessibility standards enacted to date will not ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025 or ever, even if all obligated organizations fully comply with them.

 

 a) Enact a Comprehensive Education Accessibility Standard Under the AODA

 

For example, students with disabilities face too many disability barriers in Ontario Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) schools, colleges and universities. All political parties have agreed that an Education Accessibility Standard should be enacted under the AODA. This is needed to remove and prevent the many disability barriers impeding students with disabilities in Ontario’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities.

 

In 2017, the Government appointed two Standards Development Committees to make recommendations for the promised Education Accessibility Standard, the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee. Last spring, both those Standards Development Committees sent the Government excellent, comprehensive Initial Reports. They give a strong roadmap for major reforms. A strong consensus supports their recommendations. They are expected to have submitted their final reports before the June 2022 election.

 

#10. Within one year of taking office, will you enact an AODA Education Accessibility Standard that accords with the recommendations in the Initial Report of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, which the Government made public on June 1, 2021, and the Initial Report of the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee, which the Government made public on June 25, 2021?

 

 b) Enact a Comprehensive Health Care Accessibility Standard Under the AODA

 

All political parties have agreed that Ontario needs to enact an AODA Health Care Accessibility Standard to tear down the many disability barriers that impede patients with disabilities in Ontario’s health care system. In 2016 or 2017, the Government appointed a Health Care Standards Development Committee to make recommendations on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include. It was only mandated to address disability barriers in hospitals, even though people with disabilities face many disability barriers throughout the health care system.

 

The Health Care Standards Development Committee gave the Government an Initial Report at the end of 2020. It shows why Ontario needs a strong Health Care Accessibility Standard, and what that regulation should include. The Health Care Standards Development Committee is expected to submit a final report before the June 2022 Ontario election.

 

#11. Within one year of taking office, will you enact a comprehensive Health Care Accessibility Standard under the AODA, to remove and prevent the disability barriers in Ontario’s health care system (not limited to hospitals), that accords with the Health Care Standards Development Committee’s Initial Report, made public on May 7, 2021?

 

 c) Strengthen the Employment, Transportation and Information and Communication Accessibility Standards

 

People with disabilities also still face many barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, or try to get access to information and communication that is shared with the public. The accessibility standards in these three areas that were passed in 2011 under the AODA, while helpful, have not been effective at overcoming these barriers.

 

The Government has received recommendations to strengthen Ontario’s 2011 accessibility standards that address barriers in transportation, in information and communication and in employment. In the 2018 spring, almost four years ago, the Government received recommendations for reforms in transportation from the Transportation Standards Development Committee. Well over two years ago, in 2019 the Government received recommendations for reform from the Employment Standards Development Committee. Almost two years ago, in early 2020, the Government received recommendations for reform from the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. The Government has announced no plans to implement any of those recommendations.

 

#12. Within nine months of taking office, will you revise the 2011 Employment Accessibility Standard in order to make it strong and effective, after consulting with us and the public on it?

 

#13. Within nine months of taking office, will you revise the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard in order to make it strong and effective, after consulting with us and the public on it?

 

#14. Within nine months of taking office, will you revise the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard in order to make it strong and effective, after consulting with us and the public on it?

 

 d) Enact a Comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA

 

There are still far too many disability barriers in the built environment. There has been far too little progress on this since the AODA was enacted.

 

Even if a new building fully complies with the weak Ontario Building Code and scant AODA accessibility standards that address tiny bits of accessibility in the built environment, that building routinely has significant accessibility barriers. This is illustrated in our widely-viewed online videos about the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, the new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre and recent new Toronto public transit stations.

 

The AODA requires buildings in Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities. Around 15 years ago, shortly after the AODA was enacted, the Government appointed a Built Environment Standards Development Committee to recommend what should be included in a Built Environment Accessibility Standard. Yet Ontario still has no comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard enacted under the AODA.

 

In December 2012, the Government only enacted the Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. It is an extremely narrow accessibility standard. It only deals with a few kinds of “Public Spaces” (e.g. recreational trails, sidewalks and parking spots). It mainly deals with some spaces outside buildings, but extremely little inside buildings.

 

For some four years, the Ontario Government has been in violation of the AODA’s requirement to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the sufficiency of the 2012 Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. The Government has announced no plans to comply with this legal requirement, despite our repeated requests.

 

In December 2013 and later, the Government enacted very limited new accessibility provisions in the Ontario Building Code. That Code only deals with the accessibility of new buildings and major renovations. Even after those amendments, the Ontario Building Code does not ensure that new buildings are accessible to people with disabilities. It is not a Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It is not enforceable under the AODA. It does not effectively address all the disability barriers in buildings.

 

The Ontario Government has enacted nothing under the AODA or in the Ontario Building Code to address the need for retrofits in existing buildings that are not undergoing a major renovation. If accessibility requirements for the built environment continue to only address new construction and major renovations, then Ontario’s built environment will never become accessible for people with disabilities. Two AODA Independent Reviews have specifically called for new Government action under the AODA to address the need to retrofit the built environment, the 2015 Moran Report and the 2019 Onley Report.

 

#15. Will you adopt a comprehensive strategy to make Ontario’s built environment accessible to people with disabilities, including enacting a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA? As part of this, within four months of taking office, will you appoint a Built Environment Standards Development Committee under the AODA to make recommendations on what a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard should include to make Ontario’s built environment accessible to people with disabilities? This should include accessibility retrofits in existing buildings, as well as accessibility in new construction and major renovations. It should include, but not be limited to, the overdue review of the 2012 Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. The Ontario Building Code accessibility provisions should also be strengthened to equal the requirements in the Built Environment Accessibility Standard.

 

We understand that the Ontario Building Code and AODA accessibility standards do not now set needed accessibility requirements in the location and operation of elevators. Ontario needs strong accessibility standards regarding elevators. For example, increasingly buildings are installing “destination elevator” facilities. These confuse the public as a whole, and create serious accessibility problems.

 

#16. Will you ensure that a new and comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard will include accessibility requirements for elevators?

 

 e) Enact an Accessible Housing Accessibility Standard and Create Accessible Housing Strategy

 

Ontario has a serious shortage of accessible housing where people with disabilities can live. This crisis will get worse as society ages.

 

The Ontario Building Code and current AODA accessibility standards now set no accessibility requirements for new residential homes, even if commercially built to go on the public market. Ontario has no comprehensive effective Government strategy for ensuring that Ontario will have a sufficient supply of accessible housing.

 

#17. Will you create a Residential Housing Accessibility Standard under the AODA? Within four months of taking office, will you appoint a Standards Development Committee to make recommendations on what it should include? We are open to this being part of the mandate of the Built Environment Standards Development Committee, referred to above, or being a separate stand-alone AODA Standards Development Committee.

 

#18. Will you announce a comprehensive accessible housing strategy, (apart from an AODA accessibility standard), within six months of taking office, after consulting the public, including people with disabilities? This strategy should aim to effectively increase the supply of accessible housing in Ontario, including supportive housing.

 

 f) Strengthen the Weak Customer Service Accessibility Standard

 

Shocking many, people with disabilities continue to face disability barriers to accessible customer service in Ontario. In 2007, Ontario passed the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, the first accessibility standard enacted under the AODA.

 

In 2016, the Ontario Government made revisions to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard after a mandatory five-year review of it. These did not significantly strengthen it, and in some ways, weakened it.

 

The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the sufficiency of the Customer Service Accessibility Standard by June 2021, five years after it was last revised. Violating the AODA, the Ontario Government has not done so. It has not announced any plans to do so.

 

#19. Within three months of taking office, will you appoint a Standards Development Committee under the AODA to review the 2007 AODA Customer Service Accessibility Standard? After that Committee reports, will you strengthen that accessibility standard to require accessible customer service in Ontario for people with disabilities?

 

 g) Develop Additional New Accessibility Standards under the AODA Needed to Achieve Accessibility

 

Even if the accessibility standards addressed above are enacted or strengthened, other new accessibility standards will also be needed. For example, it would be helpful to develop an accessibility standard to address procurement of goods and services, further addressed below.

 

#20. Over the six months after the June 2022 election, will you consult with the public, including the disability community, on all the additional economic sectors that other accessibility standards need to address to achieve the AODA’s purposes? Will you announce decisions on the economic sectors to be addressed in those additional standards within three months after that consultation, and appoint Standards Development Committees to address those areas within nine months after that announcement?

 

 h) Speed Up the Excessively Long Process for Developing AODA Accessibility Standards

 

Over the 16 years since the AODA was passed, each Government has taken far too long to develop each accessibility standard. The process has been bogged down in years of delays and bureaucracy.

 

Here are a few examples: It took over six years just to decide to create an Education Accessibility Standard. Once the Government decided to create a Health Care Accessibility Standard, it took some two years merely to appoint the Health Care Standards Development Committee to start to develop recommendations on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include. After the Employment Standards Development Committee rendered its final report on the revisions needed to the Employment Accessibility Standard, it took the Government some two years just to make that final report public.

 

#21. Will you streamline, speed up and de-bureaucratize the development of accessibility standards under the AODA, in consultation with us and the public?

 

 III. Substantially Strengthen AODA Enforcement to Ensure that All Requirements under the AODA are Effectively Enforced

 

On October 29, 1998, all parties voted for a unanimous landmark resolution in the Legislature that required the Disabilities Act to have teeth. In 2005, all parties unanimously voted to include in the AODA important enforcement powers, like audits, inspections, compliance orders, and stiff monetary penalties.

 

Ever since any AODA accessibility standards became enforceable, AODA enforcement has at best been weak and spotty. Yet the Government has known about years of rampant AODA violations. Where the Government takes enforcement action, compliance with the AODA increases. While enforcement is not the only way to get more compliance with the AODA, it is an important part.

 

#22. Will you substantially strengthen AODA enforcement, including effectively using all AODA enforcement powers to enforce all enforceable requirements under the AODA, and in connection with all classes of obligated organizations?

 

#23. Will you Transfer operational AODA enforcement outside the Ministry responsible for the AODA, and assign it to an arms-length public agency to be created for AODA enforcement, with a significant increase in the number of inspectors and directors appointed with AODA enforcement powers?

 

#24. Will you immediately give Ontario Government inspectors and investigators under other legislation a mandate to enforce the AODA when they inspect or investigate an organization under other legislation? Years ago, the Ontario Government piloted this.

 

#25. Will you have the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario publicly release and promptly post detailed information on AODA enforcement actions at least every three months. It should report on how many obligated organizations are actually providing accessibility, and not how many organizations simply tell the Government that they are providing accessibility. This should include prompt reports of quarterly results and year-to-date totals, broken down by sector and size of organization. At a minimum, it should include such measures as the number of notices of proposed order issued, the total amount of proposed penalties, the number of orders issued and total amounts and number of penalties imposed, the number of appeals from orders and the outcome, the total amount of penalties including changes ordered by the appeal tribunal, and the orders categorized by subject matter. This is what the 2015 final report of Mayo Moran’s second AODA Independent Review recommended.

 

#26. Will you make as a core feature of AODA enforcement the on-site inspection of a range of obligated organizations each year on the actual accessibility of their workplace, goods, services and facilities? It is not good enough for the Government, as at present, to mainly or only aim to ensure that obligated organizations keep good records on steps taken on accessibility. It is far more important for organizations to actually achieve accessibility.

 

#27. Will you establish and widely publicize an effective toll-free line for the public to report AODA violations? Will you also provide and widely publicize other online avenues to report AODA violations, including Twitter, Facebook and a web page? Will you publicly account on a quarterly basis on the complaints received and the specific enforcement action taken as a result?

 

#28. Will you create new ways for crowd-sourced AODA monitoring/enforcement, such as the Government publicly posting all online AODA compliance reports from obligated organizations in a publicly-accessible searchable data base, and by requiring each obligated organization to post its AODA compliance report on its own website, if it has one?

 

Additional enforcement measures regarding accessibility of built environments are also needed.

 

#29. Will you require that before a building permit and/or site plan approval can be obtained for a construction project, the approving authority, whether municipal or provincial, must be satisfied that the project, on completion, will meet all accessibility requirements under the Ontario Building Code and in any AODA accessibility standards?

 

#30. Will you require that post-project completion inspections include inspecting for compliance with accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code and AODA accessibility standards?

 

 IV. Effectively Use Other Levers of Government Power to Achieve Accessibility

 

Beyond implementing the AODA, the Ontario Government needs to effectively use all levers of power at its disposal to help promote disability accessibility. Here are examples.

 

 a) Substantially Reform and Improve How the Ministry of Education and Ontario School System Deal with the Needs of Students with Disabilities

 

Those working at Ontario’s Ministry of Education are often individually eager to ensure the best for students with disabilities. Despite this, the Ministry has been a major barrier to meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Its policies and directives are too often out-of-date and unresponsive to the needs of students with disabilities. They have perpetuated the operation of school boards as organizations designed first and foremost for students without disabilities. They harmfully handcuff teachers, principals and other educators who want to effectively teach students with disabilities.

 

In Ontario’s education system, students with disabilities are far too often treated as an afterthought. They are viewed and treated pejoratively as “exceptional pupils” and as students with “special education needs” (patronizing descriptions), seen too often as a major budgetary demand. Programming, budgeting and planning for students with disabilities is arbitrarily lumped together with that for gifted students who have no disabilities, even though there is no good policy reason for this. The Ministry of Education resisted our efforts to get the Government to agree to create an AODA Education Accessibility Standard.

 

The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s Initial Report shows a pressing need for major reforms in Ontario’s education system, beyond enacted a strong AODA Education Accessibility Standard. Public feedback from the disability community, families and educators on that report shows that there is a strong consensus in support of the recommended reforms. The Ontario Government needs to lead this reform. Beyond the creation of the Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA, we seek the following commitments:

 

#31. Will you undertake a comprehensive reform of Ontario’s education system as it relates to students with disabilities including its funding formula for students with disabilities in order to ensure it is sufficient to meet their needs, and to ensure that funding is based on the actual number of students with disabilities in a school board, and not on the basis of some mathematical formula of how many students with disabilities there hypothetically should be at that school board?

 

#32. Will you immediately create a new deputy minister or associate Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Education to be responsible for leading reform of Ontario’s education provided for students with disabilities, to ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in and be fully included in school programs?

 

 b) Ensure that New Generations of Design Professionals Are Not Trained to be New Barrier-Creators

 

At present, design professionals, such as architects, do not need to be effectively trained in designing accessible buildings and other built environment, to get or to keep their license. This is so even though in 2007, the Government of the day promised during the 2007 election to raise the need for this with the relevant professional bodies. Despite our repeatedly asking, we have seen no indication that any Government action on that pledge ever occurred.

 

#33. Will you make it mandatory for professional bodies that regulate or licence key professionals such as architects and other design professionals, to require adequate training on accessible design to qualify for a license, and to require existing professionals, where needed to take continuing professional development training on accessible design? This should not include the problem-ridden Rick Hansen Foundation training for accessibility assessors, addressed further below.

 

The Government annually contributes substantial funding to several Ontario colleges and universities for the training of design professionals, such as architects. Thus, public funding is now being used to train generation after generation of these professionals, without ensuring that they know how to meet accessibility needs. Public money is thereby being used to train and license generations of new barrier-creators. That is not a responsible use of public money.

 

#34. Will you require, as a condition of funding any college or university that trains professions, such as design professionals (like architects), that they include sufficient training on meeting accessibility needs, in their program’s curriculum?

 

 c) Ensure that Taxpayers’ Money is Never Used to Create or Perpetuate Disability Barriers

 

The Ontario Government spends billions of public dollars each year on capital and infrastructure projects, on procuring goods, services and facilities for use by itself or the public, on business development grants and loans, and on research grants. Ontario needs a new, comprehensive, effective strategy to ensure that no one ever uses Ontario tax dollars to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities. This can be done within the existing budget for infrastructure, procurement and other such loans and grants.

 

#35. Will you enact, implement, enforce, widely publicize and publicly report on compliance with standards and create a comprehensive strategy, all to ensure that public money is never used by anyone to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, for example, in capital or infrastructure spending, or through procurement of goods, services or facilities, or through business development grants or loans, or research grants?

 

There are serious problems with the way the Government and other public sector organizations act to ensure accessibility in major projects. These are due in part to poor accessibility legal requirements, and to inadequate accessibility training for design professionals, as addressed above. This is also due to serious problems with the way the Ontario Government funds, plans and oversees major infrastructure projects, such as new public transit stations, new college and university buildings, new hospitals and new court houses. Accessibility issues are too often inadequately addressed behind closed doors without full proper public accountability. Infrastructure Ontario’s approach to accessibility has been troubling. The common “Alternate Finance and Procurement” AFP approach to building new infrastructure creates problems.

 

#36. Will you substantially reform and improve the way public sector infrastructure projects are managed and overseen in Ontario, including a major reform of Infrastructure Ontario, to ensure that accessibility is addressed far earlier, and more effectively in the project? This should include a requirement that accessibility advice be obtained on all major projects starting at the very beginning, with input being required from the outset obtained from people with disabilities. Any accessibility advice from people with disabilities or accessibility consultants should be promptly made public. Any decisions by the Government or by project teams it hires to reject any accessibility advice should promptly be publicly reported, identifying who made that decision, and the reasons for it. The accessibility requirements for any infrastructure should be made public as soon as possible, and well before a bidding competition is closed.

 

#37. Will you require that when public money is used to create public housing, principles of universal design will be employed in the design of that public housing?

 

#38. Will you create a fund to increase the number of accessible public premises, which would be available to public buildings that agree to make their property available to the public, in the case of emergency?

 

 d) Establish Free Independent Technical Accessibility Advice for Obligated Organizations

 

Two Government-appointed AODA Independent Reviews emphasized the need for the Ontario Government to provide far better technical advice and support for obligated organizations who want to take action on accessibility, but who don’t know what to do. The existing Service Ontario toll-free number gives general information. However, it is no substitute for detailed technical accessibility expertise. US experience shows that it is best when such technical advice is offered by a publicly-funded organization that is arms-length from the Government.

 

#39. Will you establish a publicly-funded centre, arms-length from the Ontario Government, that will provide expert detailed technical advice on accessibility to the public, including obligated organizations, modelled after successful US programs? For example, an Ontario “Job Accommodation Network”, designed to operate like the successful US service bearing that name, could help employers and employees in the public and private sectors.

 

 e) Make Provincial and Municipal Elections Accessible to Voters with Disabilities

 

Voters with disabilities still face too many barriers in provincial and municipal elections. In the 2007 election, the Liberal, Progressive Conservative and New Democratic parties each committed that if elected, they would implement an accessible elections action plan. Since then, legislative reforms, enacted over a decade ago, for Ontario provincial and municipal elections have not ensured that voters with disabilities face no barriers in the election process. We are aware of no plans to fix this.

 

#40. Will you consult with voters with disabilities by the end of 2022, and then introduce in the Legislature within 9 months after that, a bill that comprehensively and effectively addresses accessibility needs of voters and candidates with disabilities in provincial and municipal elections?

 

#41. Will you commit that your candidates will not take part in any all-candidates’ debate during the June 2022 election campaign if the location is not accessible to people with disabilities??

 

 f) Substantially Improve the Accessibility of the Ontario Public Service’s Workplaces, Services and Facilities

 

The Ontario Public Service and the Ontario Government still does not now ensure that their services, facilities and workplaces are accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility is still too often inadequately dealt with in isolated silos in the Ontario Public Service. There is no strong, effective, systematic leadership, monitoring and public accountability.

 

In 2014, the second Independent Review of the AODA, conducted by Mayo Moran, found a need for significant improvement in this area. Any minor changes since then have taken too long and accomplished too little.

 

#42. After promptly consulting with people with disabilities within the Ontario Public Service and in the general public for no more than four months, will you announce and implement a plan to substantially re-engineer and strengthen how the Ontario Public Service discharges its duty to ensure that its own services, facilities and workplaces are accessible? This should include, among other things, ensuring that the accessibility of its services, facilities and workplaces is regularly and comprehensively audited and that public servants are made accountable for ensuring their accessibility, with the results of that audit promptly made public.

 

#43. Will you ensure that in Mandate Letters, the Premier promptly directs the appropriate cabinet ministers and senior public officials to implement the Government’s accessibility obligations and commitments, and to make this direction public, once given?

 

#44. Will you establish a full-time Deputy Minister or associate deputy minister, who is responsible for ensuring the accessibility of the Ontario Government’s services, facilities and workplaces, to be called the Ontario Public Service Chief Accessibility Officer? Similar positions have been successfully established in leading large businesses.

 

#45. Will you ensure that in each Ontario Government Ministry, there is a full-time Accessibility Lead position directly reporting to that Ministry’s deputy minister? This should include establishing an Accessibility Lead position in the Cabinet Office, which reports directly to the Secretary of Cabinet, to ensure that accessibility is considered in all work of the Cabinet Office, and to ensure that all Cabinet Submissions are vetted in advance to ensure they do not create or perpetuate disability barriers.

 

#46. Will you include in the annual performance reviews of each deputy minister, assistant deputy minister and director below them, where feasible, specific annual commitments relating to their mandate on accessibility for people with disabilities? In 2007, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ordered this for senior management at the Toronto Transit Commission.

 

 g) Review All Ontario Laws for Accessibility Barriers

 

In the 2007 election, the Liberal, Progressive Conservative and New Democratic Parties each promised that if elected, they would review all provincial laws for accessibility barriers. Almost fifteen years later, we have only been told of some 50 of Ontario’s 750 statutes being reviewed, and no regulations being reviewed. In contrast, back in 1982 the Charter of Rights gave governments three years to review all legislation for all equality issues, not just disability equality.

 

#47. Within four months of taking office, will you announce a detailed plan for lawyers at the Ministry of the Attorney General to undertake a review of all Ontario laws for disability accessibility barriers, and for ensuring that new legislation and regulations will be screen in advance to ensure that they do not authorize, create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities?

 

#48. Will you complete a review of all legislation for accessibility barriers by the end of 2023 and the review of all regulations by the end of 2024? By June 2024, will you introduce into the Legislature, with the intent of passing it, an omnibus bill or bills to amend any legislation as needed as a result of this accessibility review?

 

#49. By the end of 2025, will Cabinet amend any regulations that the government deems needed to remove and prevent disability barriers as a result of the accessibility review?

 

 h) Root Out Recently-Created New Disability Barriers Traceable to the Ontario Government

 

Contrary to the AODA, Ontario has recently become less accessible to people with disabilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, two successive critical care triage protocols were distributed to all Ontario hospitals under the auspices of Critical Care Services Ontario, a Government creation of which the Ontario Government is a part. These successive critical care triage protocols each directed clear and indefensible discrimination against some patients based on their disabilities.

 

The Ontario Government has never publicly explained or accounted for this, or even made these protocols public. They were leaked to the disability community. Ontario’s Government has declined to answer any of the letters we sent over the past year on this topic.

 

Beyond this, there are up to two additional critical care triage protocols that may be in circulation, and that we have never seen or been given. One addresses critical care triage for patients under the age of 18. The other would address critical care triage by emergency medical services such as ambulances.

 

#50. Will you immediately make public any critical care triage protocol for hospitals or for other health services such as emergency medical services, that have been issued since 2020, including those pertaining to any specific age group, and any drafts that have been circulated to hospitals or other health care providers?

 

#51. Will you immediately rescind any draft or final critical care triage protocols that have been sent to any hospitals or other health care providers?

 

#52. Will you consult directly with us and the disability community on any future plans or protocols regarding critical care triage?

 

#53. Within six months of taking office, will you appoint an independent inquiry to investigate and report on the effectiveness of the Ontario Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to the needs of people with disabilities, including in terms of such things as health care services, critical care triage protocols, education services and income supports?

 

In 2019, over strong objections from the disability community, the Ontario Government passed regulations under the Highway Traffic Act that permit municipalities to allow electric scooters in public places for a pilot of up to five years. It did so despite the fact that e-scooters present serious personal safety and accessibility dangers for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.

 

The Ontario Government thereby inflicted on people with disabilities the undue hardship of having to battle against e-scooter rental corporate lobbyists in one city after the next. In cities like Ottawa that permit them, e-scooters are creating the very safety and accessibility dangers about which we forewarned. Moreover, even though riding them in public places remains illegal in many places in Ontario, such as Toronto, stores and online venders continue to sell e-scooters for use in Ontario.

 

#54. Will you immediately repeal the Ontario regulations that permit municipalities to allow the use of e-scooters in public places?

 

#55. Will you pass legislation or regulations to provide for effective enforcement of the ban on riding e-scooters in public places, with strong penalties?

 

#56. Will you pass legislation or regulations to ban the sale of e-scooters for use in Ontario, with strong penalties?

 

The Ontario Government is conducting a consultation on whether to allow autonomous robots that can be used on public sidewalks, e.g., to deliver products to customers or to shovel snow. These robots endanger people with disabilities, seniors and others. Regulation that might try to set rules on their use will not be enforceable. Moreover, Ontario is proposing giving municipalities the power to allow a 10-year pilot with such robots. That too would impose an undue hardship on people with disabilities to have to fight against them in one city after the next.

 

#57. Will you ban robots on sidewalks, with effective enforcement such as a right to dispose of any robot on public sidewalks?

 

 i) Give No More Public Money to the Problematic and Unreliable Rick Hansen Foundation’s Private Accessibility “Certification” Program

 

In its 2019 Budget, the current Ontario Government announced $1.3 million to the Rick Hansen Foundation’s (RHF) private accessibility certification program, to assess the accessibility of 250 buildings in Ontario. This is a wasteful misuse of public money. In two years, there is no evidence it has led to the removal of any accessibility barriers.

 

We have documented serious problems with the RHF private accessibility certification program. The RHF has authority to “certify” nothing. The RHF process for training assessors and for assessing a building’s accessibility is quite faulty, misleading and unreliable. It can result in a building being “certified” as accessible which is not in fact accessible.

 

#58. Will you commit not to spend any additional public money on any private accessibility certification program, including the Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification program?

 

 

Due to Years of Government Foot-Dragging, Ontario Won’t Become Accessible to 2.6 Million People with Disabilities by 2025, Violating Disabilities Act

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Due to Years of Government Foot-Dragging, Ontario Won’t Become Accessible to 2.6 Million People with Disabilities by 2025, Violating Disabilities Act

 

December 2, 2021 Toronto: Because of years of Ontario Government foot-dragging and broken promises, it is now impossible for the Government to fulfil its legal duty to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025, a leading non-partisan disability coalition declared on the eve of December 3, the International Day for People with Disabilities. In a November 22, 2021 letter sent to all party leaders (set out below), the grassroots AODA Alliance wrote:

 

“The AODA requires the Government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, twenty years after it was enacted. … With great pain and frustration, we have reached a wrenching turning point. Ontario must recognize that Ontario will not reach the goal of being accessible by 2025. …We reach this hurtful crossroads despite the grassroots efforts of many to get the AODA fully and effectively implemented.”

 

The Ford Government is certainly not being let off the hook for living up to its obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. There’s still time for the Ford Government to take its foot off the brakes and hit the accelerator.

 

“Three successive premiers and a parade of ministers caused this hurtful failure,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance which campaigns for accessibility for people with disabilities. “When the Ford Government took power in 2018, we needed him to speed up action on accessibility, but instead, he slowed progress even more and created new disability barriers that make things even worse.”

 

For example, the vaccination program and vaccine passport have too many disability barriers. On the Ford Government’s watch, hospitals trained doctors to deploy a blatantly disability-discriminatory secret protocol for rationing or triaging life-saving critical care, if overrun with COVID-19 cases. As well, people with disabilities, seniors and others are now in danger of serious injuries by joyriders on electric scooters.

 

Fully 1,036 days ago, Premier Ford received a blistering report from a government-appointed independent review of the AODA’s implementation, by former lieutenant-governor David Onley. It reported that progress on accessibility is “glacial.” Ontarians with disabilities still confront a myriad of “soul-crushing barriers.” For them, Ontario is not a place of opportunity. The 2025 accessibility goal is nowhere in sight.

 

Ford’s accessibility minister said Onley did a “marvellous job.” Yet Ford still has no comprehensive action plan to implement Onley’s recommendations.

 

With next June’s Ontario election campaign already in effect underway, the AODA Alliance is getting out in front. It today releases the package of election commitments on disability accessibility that it seeks from all the political parties, detailed in its November 22, 2021 letter to the parties, below. Each party is asked to pledge to implement the AODA Alliance’s proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario laid out in that letter. In the meantime, the Ford Government should act now on all the actions spelled out in that plan.

 

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

 

For more background, visit www.aodaalliance.org

 

Text of the AODA Alliance’s November 22, 2021 Letter to Ontario Party Leaders

 

 

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/

 

 

November 22, 2021

 

To: Hon. Premier Doug Ford, Premier

Via Email: doug.ford@ontariopc.com

Room 281, Legislative Building

Queen’s Park

Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

 

Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition

Via email: ahorwath-qp@ndp.on.ca

Room 113, Legislative Building

Queen’s Park

Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A5

 

Mike Schreiner, Leader — Green Party of Ontario:

Via email: leader@gpo.ca

Room 451 Legislative Building

Queen’s Park

Toronto, ON M7A 1A2

 

Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party

Via email: steven@ontarioliberal.ca

344 Bloor St W,

Toronto On, M5S 1W9

 

 

Dear Party Leaders,

 

Re: Seeking your Parties’ 2022 Election Commitments to Make Ontario Accessible for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

 

We write in a spirit of non-partisanship to ask your Parties to pledge in advance of the June 2, 2022 Ontario election, to implement our proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario (set out below). Our non-partisan grass-roots community coalition seeks the achievement of an accessible Ontario for people with disabilities, through the prompt, effective implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

 

Below we set out specific commitments that we seek in order to make Ontario accessible to over 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. Taken together, they constitute the much-needed Accessibility Plan for Ontario that we ask your parties to each endorse.

 

In each Ontario election since 1995, some or all parties made election commitments on this. They did so in letters to the AODA Alliance, or before 2005, to our predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.

 

We write over six months before the election, because these are big, important issues. We will make public responses we receive.

 

 These Commitments are Vital

 

For people with disabilities, Ontario is at a very troubling crossroads. We must seek a substantial list of commitments, because of the Government’s cumulative failures to effectively implement and enforce the AODA for years.

 

People with disabilities had tenaciously advocated for a decade from 1994 to 2005 to get the AODA enacted. It was an historic day in 2005 when the Legislature unanimously passed the landmark AODA.

 

The AODA requires the Government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, twenty years after it was enacted. The Government must enact and enforce all the accessibility standards needed to lead Ontario to that goal.

 

Accessibility standards are enforceable provincial regulations. They are to specify, on an economic sector-by-sector basis, the disability barriers that an organization must remove or prevent, and the time lines for action, to become accessible to people with disabilities. For example, the Transportation Accessibility Standard is meant to spell out the actions that transit providers must take to tear down barriers that impede passengers with disabilities from fully using and benefitting from their transit services.

 

Since 2005, we have vigourously advocated to get the AODA effectively implemented and enforced. There has been some progress since 2005. However, it has been too little and too slow.

 

With great pain and frustration, we have reached a wrenching turning point. Ontario must recognize that Ontario will not reach the goal of being accessible by 2025. Responsibility for this entirely avoidable failure spreads out over many years. We reach this hurtful crossroads despite the grassroots efforts of many to get the AODA fully and effectively implemented.

 

People with disabilities know from their daily life experience that we are now at this painful turning point. Reinforcing this, in January 2019, the third Government-appointed Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, found that progress on accessibility in Ontario has been “glacial.” Ontarians with disabilities still confront a myriad of “soul-crushing barriers.” For them, Ontario is not a place of opportunity. The 2025 accessibility goal was nowhere in sight.

 

No one disputed these Onley Report findings. On April 10, 2019, the Government told the Legislature that David Onley did a “marvelous job.”

 

There has been no significant progress since the Onley Report on actually removing and preventing disability barriers. The AODA’s implementation and enforcement have not been strengthened or sped up.

 

Undermining the AODA’s purpose, new disability barriers have been created since the release of the Onley Report. People with disabilities disproportionately bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and its worst impacts. Yet the Government’s emergency COVID-19 planning has not effectively addressed people with disabilities’ urgent needs.

 

For example, a new critical care triage protocol, systematically embedded in Ontario hospitals, enshrines discrimination against some patients with disabilities in access to life-saving care, if hospital overloads require rationing of critical care beds. Another example of new barriers traceable to the Ontario Government are electric scooters, which are ridden by uninsured and unlicensed joy-riders in public and which now endanger people with disabilities, seniors and others in some Cities on a daily basis.

 

The AODA does not vanish on January 1, 2025. It remains the law of Ontario. The Government will remain responsible for leading its implementation and enforcement.

 

The Government elected on June 2, 2022 will be in power when the AODA’s January 1, 2025 deadline for accessibility arrives. That Government needs to have a plan of action. We here offer a carefully-designed one, based on our years of experience on the front lines, and ask you to pledge to implement it.

 

 What Went Wrong?

 

Why do we ask your parties to endorse and commit to our proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario, set out below? What led to this predicament? First, despite strong unanimous support for the AODA when it was passed, and a good start on implementing it in the early years, it substantially dropped as a Government priority after that. Premier after premier failed to show the strong leadership on this issue that Ontarians with disabilities needed, which three successive Government-appointed Independent Reviews of the AODA called for. Second, the AODA accessibility standards passed to date, while helpful, are not strong enough. They do not cover all or even a majority of the recurring barriers that people with disabilities face. Third, the Government’s enforcement of the AODA has been weak and ineffective. Fourth, the Government has not used all the other levers of power conveniently available to it to promote accessibility for people with disabilities.

 

For over a decade, successive governments and ministers have been told about the need to strengthen and speed up the AODA’s implementation. They received strong, practical recommendations on how to do this. This all came from Ontario’s disability community, and from the reports of three successive mandatory Government-appointed Independent Reviews of the AODA. The report of the first AODA Independent Review, conducted by Charles Beer, was made public in May 2010. The report of the second AODA Independent Review, conducted by former University of Toronto Law Dean Mayo Moran, was made public in February 2015. The report of the third AODA Independent Review, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley, was made public in March 2019.

 

Our Proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario In a Nutshell

 

The 2022 election is the most pivotal one for Ontarians with disabilities since the 2003 election. This is because Ontario is on the verge of failing to comply with the AODA’s mandatory deadline. We need Ontario’s Government, elected on June 2, 2022, to commit to a bold plan of strong new action on disability accessibility, targeted at two goals. First, Ontario must get as close to full accessibility for people with disabilities as is possible by 2025. Second, Ontario must thereafter get the rest of the way to full accessibility as soon as possible after 2025.

 

In summary, our proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario that we set out below, and to which we ask you to commit, includes requests that your party each agree to:

 

  1. Foster and strengthen our ongoing relationship with your party.
  2. Show strong leadership on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.
  3. Protect the gains on accessibility that people with disabilities have made so far.
  4. Enact a comprehensive Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA.
  5. Enact a comprehensive Health Care Accessibility Standard under the AODA.
  6. Strengthen the Employment, Transportation and Information and Communication Accessibility Standards.
  7. Enact a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA.
  8. Enact an Accessible Housing Accessibility Standard under the AODA and create an Accessible Housing Strategy.
  9. Strengthen the weak Customer Service Accessibility Standard, enacted under the AODA.
  10. Develop additional new Accessibility Standards under the AODA, needed to make Ontario accessible to people with disabilities.
  11. Speed up the excessively long process for developing and enacting AODA Accessibility Standards.
  12. Substantially strengthen AODA enforcement to ensure that all requirements under the AODA are effectively enforced.
  13. Substantially reform and improve how the Ministry of Education and Ontario school system address the needs of students with disabilities.
  14. Ensure that new generations of design professionals (like architects) are not trained to be new barrier-creators.
  15. Ensure that taxpayers’ money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers.
  16. Establish free independent technical accessibility advice for obligated organizations.
  17. Make provincial and municipal elections accessible to voters with disabilities.
  18. Substantially improve the accessibility of the Ontario Public Service’s workplaces, services and facilities.
  19. Review all Ontario laws for accessibility barriers.
  20. Root out recently-created new disability barriers traceable to the Ontario Government.
  21. Give no more public money to the problematic and unreliable Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility “certification” program.

 

Following Up on This Letter

 

Please respond to this request by February 1, 2022. Email us at aodafeedback@gmail.com. Please send your response in MS Word format, and not as a pdf, because the pdf format presents serious accessibility problems. We would be pleased to provide background briefings or to answer any questions you may have.

 

Our coalition addresses disability accessibility. We urge you to also take very seriously the requests you will receive from community groups for election pledges on other important disability issues, such as the pressing need to strengthen income supports like ODSP to tackle the protracted, rampant poverty among far too many Ontarians with disabilities.

 

Our non-partisan coalition does not support or oppose any party or candidate. We aim to secure the strongest commitments from each party.

 

Sincerely,

 

David Lepofsky, CM, O. Ont.

Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

 

 

 

A Proposed Accessibility Plan for Ontario – 2022 Ontario Election Commitments Requested by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

 

 I. Leadership Commitments

 

 a) Foster and Strengthen Our Ongoing Relationship with Your Party

 

Our coalition and its pre-2005 predecessor (the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee) have been recognized in the Legislature and elsewhere for our leadership and advocacy for and expertise in disability accessibility. We offer input and advice to the Government and to opposition parties.

 

#1. As Premier, will you periodically meet with us to discuss issues concerning persons with disabilities and accessibility, including once within the first four months of taking office?

 

#2. If your Party does not form the Government, will you meet with us periodically? Will your Party raise our concerns in the Legislature, including in Question Period?

 

 b) Show Strong Leadership on Accessibility

 

Three successive Independent Reviews of the AODA concluded that Ontario needs strong new leadership within the Ontario Government on accessibility for people with disabilities, starting with the premier.

 

#3. As premier, will you show strong leadership on the issue of accessibility for people with disabilities? Will you substantially strengthen and accelerate the AODA’s implementation?

 

#4. Will you commit to get Ontario as close as possible to the goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025? Will you also announce and implement a plan to get Ontario to reach full accessibility as soon as possible after 2025, if the 2025 deadline is missed?

 

Ontario has not had in place a comprehensive multi-year plan for implementing the AODA. We and others urged the Government for years to establish such a plan, and have offered proposals.

 

#5. Within four months of taking office, and after consulting the public including people with disabilities, will you announce a comprehensive action plan for ensuring that the Government leads Ontario to become as close as possible to full accessibility by 2025 for people with disabilities, and if the 2025 goal is not reached, to reach the goal of accessibility for people with disabilities as soon as possible after 2025?

 

#6. Will you assign a stand-alone minister responsible for disability issues, who will periodically meet with us? Will other ministers with responsibility bearing on our issues also meet with us?

 

The Government needs to lead by a good example. Yet it has not done so. Examples are given below where the Ontario Government itself is violating the AODA.

 

#7. Will you comply with the AODA?

 

 c) Protect the Gains on Accessibility that People with Disabilities Have Made So Far

 

It is vital that the AODA not be opened up in the Legislature or amended in any way.

 

#8. Will you ensure that no amendments to the AODA will be made?

 

#9. Do you agree not to eliminate or reduce any provisions or protections in the AODA or its regulations, or in policies or initiatives within the Ontario Government that promote its objectives, or any rights of persons with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code?

 

 II. Develop and Enact Needed New Accessibility Standards Under the AODA

 

The AODA requires the Government to enact all the accessibility standards needed to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. The Government must then enforce those accessibility standards. When done right, these accessibility standards help business and public sector organizations know what to do. They contribute to the profitability and success of these organizations.

 

Since 2005, the Ontario Government has enacted five accessibility standards. They address disability barriers in customer service, employment, information and communication, transportation, and a very limited range of built environment barriers in “public spaces,” mostly outside buildings.

 

The Moran and Onley AODA Independent Reviews concluded that Ontario needs to enact more accessibility standards to address all the many recurring disability barriers that Ontarians with disabilities face. Yet no new AODA accessibility standards have been enacted since 2012, in almost a decade.

 

The AODA requires that each AODA accessibility standard must be independently reviewed by a Government-appointed Standards Development Committee after five years, to see if it needs strengthening. Only one of Ontario’s five accessibility standards has ever been revised. That was in June 2016, over half a decade ago. That is so even though four separate Government-appointed Standards Development Committees found that the four accessibility standards they reviewed all need to be strengthened.

 

We need the Ontario Government to develop and enact new accessibility standards, and to strengthen all the existing accessibility standards. The weak and limited accessibility standards enacted to date will not ensure that Ontario becomes accessible by 2025 or ever, even if all obligated organizations fully comply with them.

 

 a) Enact a Comprehensive Education Accessibility Standard Under the AODA

 

For example, students with disabilities face too many disability barriers in Ontario Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) schools, colleges and universities. All political parties have agreed that an Education Accessibility Standard should be enacted under the AODA. This is needed to remove and prevent the many disability barriers impeding students with disabilities in Ontario’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities.

 

In 2017, the Government appointed two Standards Development Committees to make recommendations for the promised Education Accessibility Standard, the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee. Last spring, both those Standards Development Committees sent the Government excellent, comprehensive Initial Reports. They give a strong roadmap for major reforms. A strong consensus supports their recommendations. They are expected to have submitted their final reports before the June 2022 election.

 

#10. Within one year of taking office, will you enact an AODA Education Accessibility Standard that accords with the recommendations in the Initial Report of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, which the Government made public on June 1, 2021, and the Initial Report of the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee, which the Government made public on June 25, 2021?

 

 b) Enact a Comprehensive Health Care Accessibility Standard Under the AODA

 

All political parties have agreed that Ontario needs to enact an AODA Health Care Accessibility Standard to tear down the many disability barriers that impede patients with disabilities in Ontario’s health care system. In 2016 or 2017, the Government appointed a Health Care Standards Development Committee to make recommendations on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include. It was only mandated to address disability barriers in hospitals, even though people with disabilities face many disability barriers throughout the health care system.

 

The Health Care Standards Development Committee gave the Government an Initial Report at the end of 2020. It shows why Ontario needs a strong Health Care Accessibility Standard, and what that regulation should include. The Health Care Standards Development Committee is expected to submit a final report before the June 2022 Ontario election.

 

#11. Within one year of taking office, will you enact a comprehensive Health Care Accessibility Standard under the AODA, to remove and prevent the disability barriers in Ontario’s health care system (not limited to hospitals), that accords with the Health Care Standards Development Committee’s Initial Report, made public on May 7, 2021?

 

 c) Strengthen the Employment, Transportation and Information and Communication Accessibility Standards

 

People with disabilities also still face many barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, or try to get access to information and communication that is shared with the public. The accessibility standards in these three areas that were passed in 2011 under the AODA, while helpful, have not been effective at overcoming these barriers.

 

The Government has received recommendations to strengthen Ontario’s 2011 accessibility standards that address barriers in transportation, in information and communication and in employment. In the 2018 spring, almost four years ago, the Government received recommendations for reforms in transportation from the Transportation Standards Development Committee. Well over two years ago, in 2019 the Government received recommendations for reform from the Employment Standards Development Committee. Almost two years ago, in early 2020, the Government received recommendations for reform from the Information and Communication Standards Development Committee. The Government has announced no plans to implement any of those recommendations.

 

#12. Within nine months of taking office, will you revise the 2011 Employment Accessibility Standard in order to make it strong and effective, after consulting with us and the public on it?

 

#13. Within nine months of taking office, will you revise the 2011 Information and Communication Accessibility Standard in order to make it strong and effective, after consulting with us and the public on it?

 

#14. Within nine months of taking office, will you revise the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard in order to make it strong and effective, after consulting with us and the public on it?

 

 d) Enact a Comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA

 

There are still far too many disability barriers in the built environment. There has been far too little progress on this since the AODA was enacted.

 

Even if a new building fully complies with the weak Ontario Building Code and scant AODA accessibility standards that address tiny bits of accessibility in the built environment, that building routinely has significant accessibility barriers. This is illustrated in our widely-viewed online videos about the new Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, the new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre and recent new Toronto public transit stations.

 

The AODA requires buildings in Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities. Around 15 years ago, shortly after the AODA was enacted, the Government appointed a Built Environment Standards Development Committee to recommend what should be included in a Built Environment Accessibility Standard. Yet Ontario still has no comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard enacted under the AODA.

 

In December 2012, the Government only enacted the Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. It is an extremely narrow accessibility standard. It only deals with a few kinds of “Public Spaces” (e.g. recreational trails, sidewalks and parking spots). It mainly deals with some spaces outside buildings, but extremely little inside buildings.

 

For some four years, the Ontario Government has been in violation of the AODA’s requirement to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the sufficiency of the 2012 Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. The Government has announced no plans to comply with this legal requirement, despite our repeated requests.

 

In December 2013 and later, the Government enacted very limited new accessibility provisions in the Ontario Building Code. That Code only deals with the accessibility of new buildings and major renovations. Even after those amendments, the Ontario Building Code does not ensure that new buildings are accessible to people with disabilities. It is not a Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA. It is not enforceable under the AODA. It does not effectively address all the disability barriers in buildings.

 

The Ontario Government has enacted nothing under the AODA or in the Ontario Building Code to address the need for retrofits in existing buildings that are not undergoing a major renovation. If accessibility requirements for the built environment continue to only address new construction and major renovations, then Ontario’s built environment will never become accessible for people with disabilities. Two AODA Independent Reviews have specifically called for new Government action under the AODA to address the need to retrofit the built environment, the 2015 Moran Report and the 2019 Onley Report.

 

#15. Will you adopt a comprehensive strategy to make Ontario’s built environment accessible to people with disabilities, including enacting a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA? As part of this, within four months of taking office, will you appoint a Built Environment Standards Development Committee under the AODA to make recommendations on what a comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard should include to make Ontario’s built environment accessible to people with disabilities? This should include accessibility retrofits in existing buildings, as well as accessibility in new construction and major renovations. It should include, but not be limited to, the overdue review of the 2012 Design of Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. The Ontario Building Code accessibility provisions should also be strengthened to equal the requirements in the Built Environment Accessibility Standard.

 

We understand that the Ontario Building Code and AODA accessibility standards do not now set needed accessibility requirements in the location and operation of elevators. Ontario needs strong accessibility standards regarding elevators. For example, increasingly buildings are installing “destination elevator” facilities. These confuse the public as a whole, and create serious accessibility problems.

 

#16. Will you ensure that a new and comprehensive Built Environment Accessibility Standard will include accessibility requirements for elevators?

 

 e) Enact an Accessible Housing Accessibility Standard and Create Accessible Housing Strategy

 

Ontario has a serious shortage of accessible housing where people with disabilities can live. This crisis will get worse as society ages.

 

The Ontario Building Code and current AODA accessibility standards now set no accessibility requirements for new residential homes, even if commercially built to go on the public market. Ontario has no comprehensive effective Government strategy for ensuring that Ontario will have a sufficient supply of accessible housing.

 

#17. Will you create a Residential Housing Accessibility Standard under the AODA? Within four months of taking office, will you appoint a Standards Development Committee to make recommendations on what it should include? We are open to this being part of the mandate of the Built Environment Standards Development Committee, referred to above, or being a separate stand-alone AODA Standards Development Committee.

 

#18. Will you announce a comprehensive accessible housing strategy, (apart from an AODA accessibility standard), within six months of taking office, after consulting the public, including people with disabilities? This strategy should aim to effectively increase the supply of accessible housing in Ontario, including supportive housing.

 

 f) Strengthen the Weak Customer Service Accessibility Standard

 

Shocking many, people with disabilities continue to face disability barriers to accessible customer service in Ontario. In 2007, Ontario passed the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, the first accessibility standard enacted under the AODA.

 

In 2016, the Ontario Government made revisions to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard after a mandatory five-year review of it. These did not significantly strengthen it, and in some ways, weakened it.

 

The AODA required the Ontario Government to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the sufficiency of the Customer Service Accessibility Standard by June 2021, five years after it was last revised. Violating the AODA, the Ontario Government has not done so. It has not announced any plans to do so.

 

#19. Within three months of taking office, will you appoint a Standards Development Committee under the AODA to review the 2007 AODA Customer Service Accessibility Standard? After that Committee reports, will you strengthen that accessibility standard to require accessible customer service in Ontario for people with disabilities?

 

 g) Develop Additional New Accessibility Standards under the AODA Needed to Achieve Accessibility

 

Even if the accessibility standards addressed above are enacted or strengthened, other new accessibility standards will also be needed. For example, it would be helpful to develop an accessibility standard to address procurement of goods and services, further addressed below.

 

#20. Over the six months after the June 2022 election, will you consult with the public, including the disability community, on all the additional economic sectors that other accessibility standards need to address to achieve the AODA’s purposes? Will you announce decisions on the economic sectors to be addressed in those additional standards within three months after that consultation, and appoint Standards Development Committees to address those areas within nine months after that announcement?

 

 h) Speed Up the Excessively Long Process for Developing AODA Accessibility Standards

 

Over the 16 years since the AODA was passed, each Government has taken far too long to develop each accessibility standard. The process has been bogged down in years of delays and bureaucracy.

 

Here are a few examples: It took over six years just to decide to create an Education Accessibility Standard. Once the Government decided to create a Health Care Accessibility Standard, it took some two years merely to appoint the Health Care Standards Development Committee to start to develop recommendations on what the Health Care Accessibility Standard should include. After the Employment Standards Development Committee rendered its final report on the revisions needed to the Employment Accessibility Standard, it took the Government some two years just to make that final report public.

 

#21. Will you streamline, speed up and de-bureaucratize the development of accessibility standards under the AODA, in consultation with us and the public?

 

 III. Substantially Strengthen AODA Enforcement to Ensure that All Requirements under the AODA are Effectively Enforced

 

On October 29, 1998, all parties voted for a unanimous landmark resolution in the Legislature that required the Disabilities Act to have teeth. In 2005, all parties unanimously voted to include in the AODA important enforcement powers, like audits, inspections, compliance orders, and stiff monetary penalties.

 

Ever since any AODA accessibility standards became enforceable, AODA enforcement has at best been weak and spotty. Yet the Government has known about years of rampant AODA violations. Where the Government takes enforcement action, compliance with the AODA increases. While enforcement is not the only way to get more compliance with the AODA, it is an important part.

 

#22. Will you substantially strengthen AODA enforcement, including effectively using all AODA enforcement powers to enforce all enforceable requirements under the AODA, and in connection with all classes of obligated organizations?

 

#23. Will you Transfer operational AODA enforcement outside the Ministry responsible for the AODA, and assign it to an arms-length public agency to be created for AODA enforcement, with a significant increase in the number of inspectors and directors appointed with AODA enforcement powers?

 

#24. Will you immediately give Ontario Government inspectors and investigators under other legislation a mandate to enforce the AODA when they inspect or investigate an organization under other legislation? Years ago, the Ontario Government piloted this.

 

#25. Will you have the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario publicly release and promptly post detailed information on AODA enforcement actions at least every three months. It should report on how many obligated organizations are actually providing accessibility, and not how many organizations simply tell the Government that they are providing accessibility. This should include prompt reports of quarterly results and year-to-date totals, broken down by sector and size of organization. At a minimum, it should include such measures as the number of notices of proposed order issued, the total amount of proposed penalties, the number of orders issued and total amounts and number of penalties imposed, the number of appeals from orders and the outcome, the total amount of penalties including changes ordered by the appeal tribunal, and the orders categorized by subject matter. This is what the 2015 final report of Mayo Moran’s second AODA Independent Review recommended.

 

#26. Will you make as a core feature of AODA enforcement the on-site inspection of a range of obligated organizations each year on the actual accessibility of their workplace, goods, services and facilities? It is not good enough for the Government, as at present, to mainly or only aim to ensure that obligated organizations keep good records on steps taken on accessibility. It is far more important for organizations to actually achieve accessibility.

 

#27. Will you establish and widely publicize an effective toll-free line for the public to report AODA violations? Will you also provide and widely publicize other online avenues to report AODA violations, including Twitter, Facebook and a web page? Will you publicly account on a quarterly basis on the complaints received and the specific enforcement action taken as a result?

 

#28. Will you create new ways for crowd-sourced AODA monitoring/enforcement, such as the Government publicly posting all online AODA compliance reports from obligated organizations in a publicly-accessible searchable data base, and by requiring each obligated organization to post its AODA compliance report on its own website, if it has one?

 

Additional enforcement measures regarding accessibility of built environments are also needed.

 

#29. Will you require that before a building permit and/or site plan approval can be obtained for a construction project, the approving authority, whether municipal or provincial, must be satisfied that the project, on completion, will meet all accessibility requirements under the Ontario Building Code and in any AODA accessibility standards?

 

#30. Will you require that post-project completion inspections include inspecting for compliance with accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code and AODA accessibility standards?

 

 IV. Effectively Use Other Levers of Government Power to Achieve Accessibility

 

Beyond implementing the AODA, the Ontario Government needs to effectively use all levers of power at its disposal to help promote disability accessibility. Here are examples.

 

 a) Substantially Reform and Improve How the Ministry of Education and Ontario School System Deal with the Needs of Students with Disabilities

 

Those working at Ontario’s Ministry of Education are often individually eager to ensure the best for students with disabilities. Despite this, the Ministry has been a major barrier to meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Its policies and directives are too often out-of-date and unresponsive to the needs of students with disabilities. They have perpetuated the operation of school boards as organizations designed first and foremost for students without disabilities. They harmfully handcuff teachers, principals and other educators who want to effectively teach students with disabilities.

 

In Ontario’s education system, students with disabilities are far too often treated as an afterthought. They are viewed and treated pejoratively as “exceptional pupils” and as students with “special education needs” (patronizing descriptions), seen too often as a major budgetary demand. Programming, budgeting and planning for students with disabilities is arbitrarily lumped together with that for gifted students who have no disabilities, even though there is no good policy reason for this. The Ministry of Education resisted our efforts to get the Government to agree to create an AODA Education Accessibility Standard.

 

The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s Initial Report shows a pressing need for major reforms in Ontario’s education system, beyond enacted a strong AODA Education Accessibility Standard. Public feedback from the disability community, families and educators on that report shows that there is a strong consensus in support of the recommended reforms. The Ontario Government needs to lead this reform. Beyond the creation of the Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA, we seek the following commitments:

 

#31. Will you undertake a comprehensive reform of Ontario’s education system as it relates to students with disabilities including its funding formula for students with disabilities in order to ensure it is sufficient to meet their needs, and to ensure that funding is based on the actual number of students with disabilities in a school board, and not on the basis of some mathematical formula of how many students with disabilities there hypothetically should be at that school board?

 

#32. Will you immediately create a new deputy minister or associate Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Education to be responsible for leading reform of Ontario’s education provided for students with disabilities, to ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in and be fully included in school programs?

 

 b) Ensure that New Generations of Design Professionals Are Not Trained to be New Barrier-Creators

 

At present, design professionals, such as architects, do not need to be effectively trained in designing accessible buildings and other built environment, to get or to keep their license. This is so even though in 2007, the Government of the day promised during the 2007 election to raise the need for this with the relevant professional bodies. Despite our repeatedly asking, we have seen no indication that any Government action on that pledge ever occurred.

 

#33. Will you make it mandatory for professional bodies that regulate or licence key professionals such as architects and other design professionals, to require adequate training on accessible design to qualify for a license, and to require existing professionals, where needed to take continuing professional development training on accessible design? This should not include the problem-ridden Rick Hansen Foundation training for accessibility assessors, addressed further below.

 

The Government annually contributes substantial funding to several Ontario colleges and universities for the training of design professionals, such as architects. Thus, public funding is now being used to train generation after generation of these professionals, without ensuring that they know how to meet accessibility needs. Public money is thereby being used to train and license generations of new barrier-creators. That is not a responsible use of public money.

 

#34. Will you require, as a condition of funding any college or university that trains professions, such as design professionals (like architects), that they include sufficient training on meeting accessibility needs, in their program’s curriculum?

 

 c) Ensure that Taxpayers’ Money is Never Used to Create or Perpetuate Disability Barriers

 

The Ontario Government spends billions of public dollars each year on capital and infrastructure projects, on procuring goods, services and facilities for use by itself or the public, on business development grants and loans, and on research grants. Ontario needs a new, comprehensive, effective strategy to ensure that no one ever uses Ontario tax dollars to create or perpetuate barriers against persons with disabilities. This can be done within the existing budget for infrastructure, procurement and other such loans and grants.

 

#35. Will you enact, implement, enforce, widely publicize and publicly report on compliance with standards and create a comprehensive strategy, all to ensure that public money is never used by anyone to create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities, for example, in capital or infrastructure spending, or through procurement of goods, services or facilities, or through business development grants or loans, or research grants?

 

There are serious problems with the way the Government and other public sector organizations act to ensure accessibility in major projects. These are due in part to poor accessibility legal requirements, and to inadequate accessibility training for design professionals, as addressed above. This is also due to serious problems with the way the Ontario Government funds, plans and oversees major infrastructure projects, such as new public transit stations, new college and university buildings, new hospitals and new court houses. Accessibility issues are too often inadequately addressed behind closed doors without full proper public accountability. Infrastructure Ontario’s approach to accessibility has been troubling. The common “Alternate Finance and Procurement” AFP approach to building new infrastructure creates problems.

 

#36. Will you substantially reform and improve the way public sector infrastructure projects are managed and overseen in Ontario, including a major reform of Infrastructure Ontario, to ensure that accessibility is addressed far earlier, and more effectively in the project? This should include a requirement that accessibility advice be obtained on all major projects starting at the very beginning, with input being required from the outset obtained from people with disabilities. Any accessibility advice from people with disabilities or accessibility consultants should be promptly made public. Any decisions by the Government or by project teams it hires to reject any accessibility advice should promptly be publicly reported, identifying who made that decision, and the reasons for it. The accessibility requirements for any infrastructure should be made public as soon as possible, and well before a bidding competition is closed.

 

#37. Will you require that when public money is used to create public housing, principles of universal design will be employed in the design of that public housing?

 

#38. Will you create a fund to increase the number of accessible public premises, which would be available to public buildings that agree to make their property available to the public, in the case of emergency?

 

 d) Establish Free Independent Technical Accessibility Advice for Obligated Organizations

 

Two Government-appointed AODA Independent Reviews emphasized the need for the Ontario Government to provide far better technical advice and support for obligated organizations who want to take action on accessibility, but who don’t know what to do. The existing Service Ontario toll-free number gives general information. However, it is no substitute for detailed technical accessibility expertise. US experience shows that it is best when such technical advice is offered by a publicly-funded organization that is arms-length from the Government.

 

#39. Will you establish a publicly-funded centre, arms-length from the Ontario Government, that will provide expert detailed technical advice on accessibility to the public, including obligated organizations, modelled after successful US programs? For example, an Ontario “Job Accommodation Network”, designed to operate like the successful US service bearing that name, could help employers and employees in the public and private sectors.

 

 e) Make Provincial and Municipal Elections Accessible to Voters with Disabilities

 

Voters with disabilities still face too many barriers in provincial and municipal elections. In the 2007 election, the Liberal, Progressive Conservative and New Democratic parties each committed that if elected, they would implement an accessible elections action plan. Since then, legislative reforms, enacted over a decade ago, for Ontario provincial and municipal elections have not ensured that voters with disabilities face no barriers in the election process. We are aware of no plans to fix this.

 

#40. Will you consult with voters with disabilities by the end of 2022, and then introduce in the Legislature within 9 months after that, a bill that comprehensively and effectively addresses accessibility needs of voters and candidates with disabilities in provincial and municipal elections?

 

#41. Will you commit that your candidates will not take part in any all-candidates’ debate during the June 2022 election campaign if the location is not accessible to people with disabilities??

 

 f) Substantially Improve the Accessibility of the Ontario Public Service’s Workplaces, Services and Facilities

 

The Ontario Public Service and the Ontario Government still does not now ensure that their services, facilities and workplaces are accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility is still too often inadequately dealt with in isolated silos in the Ontario Public Service. There is no strong, effective, systematic leadership, monitoring and public accountability.

 

In 2014, the second Independent Review of the AODA, conducted by Mayo Moran, found a need for significant improvement in this area. Any minor changes since then have taken too long and accomplished too little.

 

#42. After promptly consulting with people with disabilities within the Ontario Public Service and in the general public for no more than four months, will you announce and implement a plan to substantially re-engineer and strengthen how the Ontario Public Service discharges its duty to ensure that its own services, facilities and workplaces are accessible? This should include, among other things, ensuring that the accessibility of its services, facilities and workplaces is regularly and comprehensively audited and that public servants are made accountable for ensuring their accessibility, with the results of that audit promptly made public.

 

#43. Will you ensure that in Mandate Letters, the Premier promptly directs the appropriate cabinet ministers and senior public officials to implement the Government’s accessibility obligations and commitments, and to make this direction public, once given?

 

#44. Will you establish a full-time Deputy Minister or associate deputy minister, who is responsible for ensuring the accessibility of the Ontario Government’s services, facilities and workplaces, to be called the Ontario Public Service Chief Accessibility Officer? Similar positions have been successfully established in leading large businesses.

 

#45. Will you ensure that in each Ontario Government Ministry, there is a full-time Accessibility Lead position directly reporting to that Ministry’s deputy minister? This should include establishing an Accessibility Lead position in the Cabinet Office, which reports directly to the Secretary of Cabinet, to ensure that accessibility is considered in all work of the Cabinet Office, and to ensure that all Cabinet Submissions are vetted in advance to ensure they do not create or perpetuate disability barriers.

 

#46. Will you include in the annual performance reviews of each deputy minister, assistant deputy minister and director below them, where feasible, specific annual commitments relating to their mandate on accessibility for people with disabilities? In 2007, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ordered this for senior management at the Toronto Transit Commission.

 

 g) Review All Ontario Laws for Accessibility Barriers

 

In the 2007 election, the Liberal, Progressive Conservative and New Democratic Parties each promised that if elected, they would review all provincial laws for accessibility barriers. Almost fifteen years later, we have only been told of some 50 of Ontario’s 750 statutes being reviewed, and no regulations being reviewed. In contrast, back in 1982 the Charter of Rights gave governments three years to review all legislation for all equality issues, not just disability equality.

 

#47. Within four months of taking office, will you announce a detailed plan for lawyers at the Ministry of the Attorney General to undertake a review of all Ontario laws for disability accessibility barriers, and for ensuring that new legislation and regulations will be screen in advance to ensure that they do not authorize, create or perpetuate barriers against people with disabilities?

 

#48. Will you complete a review of all legislation for accessibility barriers by the end of 2023 and the review of all regulations by the end of 2024? By June 2024, will you introduce into the Legislature, with the intent of passing it, an omnibus bill or bills to amend any legislation as needed as a result of this accessibility review?

 

#49. By the end of 2025, will Cabinet amend any regulations that the government deems needed to remove and prevent disability barriers as a result of the accessibility review?

 

 h) Root Out Recently-Created New Disability Barriers Traceable to the Ontario Government

 

Contrary to the AODA, Ontario has recently become less accessible to people with disabilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, two successive critical care triage protocols were distributed to all Ontario hospitals under the auspices of Critical Care Services Ontario, a Government creation of which the Ontario Government is a part. These successive critical care triage protocols each directed clear and indefensible discrimination against some patients based on their disabilities.

 

The Ontario Government has never publicly explained or accounted for this, or even made these protocols public. They were leaked to the disability community. Ontario’s Government has declined to answer any of the letters we sent over the past year on this topic.

 

Beyond this, there are up to two additional critical care triage protocols that may be in circulation, and that we have never seen or been given. One addresses critical care triage for patients under the age of 18. The other would address critical care triage by emergency medical services such as ambulances.

 

#50. Will you immediately make public any critical care triage protocol for hospitals or for other health services such as emergency medical services, that have been issued since 2020, including those pertaining to any specific age group, and any drafts that have been circulated to hospitals or other health care providers?

 

#51. Will you immediately rescind any draft or final critical care triage protocols that have been sent to any hospitals or other health care providers?

 

#52. Will you consult directly with us and the disability community on any future plans or protocols regarding critical care triage?

 

#53. Within six months of taking office, will you appoint an independent inquiry to investigate and report on the effectiveness of the Ontario Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to the needs of people with disabilities, including in terms of such things as health care services, critical care triage protocols, education services and income supports?

 

In 2019, over strong objections from the disability community, the Ontario Government passed regulations under the Highway Traffic Act that permit municipalities to allow electric scooters in public places for a pilot of up to five years. It did so despite the fact that e-scooters present serious personal safety and accessibility dangers for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others.

 

The Ontario Government thereby inflicted on people with disabilities the undue hardship of having to battle against e-scooter rental corporate lobbyists in one city after the next. In cities like Ottawa that permit them, e-scooters are creating the very safety and accessibility dangers about which we forewarned. Moreover, even though riding them in public places remains illegal in many places in Ontario, such as Toronto, stores and online venders continue to sell e-scooters for use in Ontario.

 

#54. Will you immediately repeal the Ontario regulations that permit municipalities to allow the use of e-scooters in public places?

 

#55. Will you pass legislation or regulations to provide for effective enforcement of the ban on riding e-scooters in public places, with strong penalties?

 

#56. Will you pass legislation or regulations to ban the sale of e-scooters for use in Ontario, with strong penalties?

 

The Ontario Government is conducting a consultation on whether to allow autonomous robots that can be used on public sidewalks, e.g., to deliver products to customers or to shovel snow. These robots endanger people with disabilities, seniors and others. Regulation that might try to set rules on their use will not be enforceable. Moreover, Ontario is proposing giving municipalities the power to allow a 10-year pilot with such robots. That too would impose an undue hardship on people with disabilities to have to fight against them in one city after the next.

 

#57. Will you ban robots on sidewalks, with effective enforcement such as a right to dispose of any robot on public sidewalks?

 

 i) Give No More Public Money to the Problematic and Unreliable Rick Hansen Foundation’s Private Accessibility “Certification” Program

 

In its 2019 Budget, the current Ontario Government announced $1.3 million to the Rick Hansen Foundation’s (RHF) private accessibility certification program, to assess the accessibility of 250 buildings in Ontario. This is a wasteful misuse of public money. In two years, there is no evidence it has led to the removal of any accessibility barriers.

 

We have documented serious problems with the RHF private accessibility certification program. The RHF has authority to “certify” nothing. The RHF process for training assessors and for assessing a building’s accessibility is quite faulty, misleading and unreliable. It can result in a building being “certified” as accessible which is not in fact accessible.

 

#58. Will you commit not to spend any additional public money on any private accessibility certification program, including the Rick Hansen Foundation’s private accessibility certification program?

 

 

Stunning Sampling of 25 News Articles Show Serious Dangers that Electric Scooters Pose to the Public, Including People with Disabilities, Seniors and Children

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Stunning Sampling of 25 News Articles Show Serious Dangers that Electric Scooters Pose to the Public, Including People with Disabilities, Seniors and Children

 

November 29 2021

 

          SUMMARY

 

Today, the 27th anniversary of the birth of Ontario’s grass roots non-partisan campaign for accessibility for people with disabilities, we show you public overwhelming proof that Ontarians with disabilities are now exposed to a serious and unjustifiable new danger to their safety and accessibility, due to the Ford Government.

 

As we have been highlighting over the past two years, the Ford Government has decided to give every municipality the authority to allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in their community. We have repeatedly shown how this endangers public safety. This is especially so for vulnerable pedestrians, like people with disabilities, seniors and children. To date, the Ford Government and some municipalities such as the City of Ottawa have disregarded this danger. They have instead listened to the e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists.

 

We here provide a deeply troubling and stunningly vivid picture to date of exactly what kinds of dangers this poses for Ontarians, including Ontarians with disabilities. Below is a sampling of 25 news articles from around the world on this topic. These illustrate horrible examples of people being seriously injured or killed, due to e-scooters. If you read any of these stories, you cannot help but be enraged about this danger to the public. If you read all these stories, the feeling only grows.

 

Below you can read through a sampling of 25 articles from Canada and around the world demonstrating the serious dangers posed by the unchecked use of e-scooters in public spaces (full text of each article included further below). Just their headlines, listed here, is ample to tell the story:

 

  1. Altercation between e-scooter riders and occupants of vehicle before fatal stabbing in downtown Ottawa, police say

 

  1. Vernon woman spent two days in hospital after being struck by rental scooter

 

  1. National pedestrian safety campaign backs Chorley mum’s petition for stricter e-scooter laws after daughter hit

 

  1. Italy debates electric scooter safety after teenager dies in accident

 

  1. E-scooters: Sister of six-year-old boy who had skull fractured by teenage rider calls for under-21 ban

 

  1. Woman who can ‘barely dress’ herself after being hit by e-scooter lashes out

 

  1. Paris police search for two e-scooter riders after pedestrian killed

 

  1. Child taken to hospital following e-scooter collision

 

  1. Moment teenager on an e-scooter almost ploughs into a lorry while riding on the WRONG side of the road

 

  1. Three-year-old girl left with ‘life-changing’ injuries after collision with man riding e-scooter

 

  1. Electric scooters drive accident epidemic as young man, 20, latest to die in collision

 

  1. Teen e-scooter rider pleads guilty in incident which caused pedestrian severe brain injuries

 

  1. Girl’s jaw and gums had to be realigned after accident with e-scooter; rider arrested

 

  1. Canterbury woman struck by electric scooter suffers two broken limbs

 

  1. E-scooter casualties in London soar by 570% as number of pedestrians hurt DOUBLES in a year – putting pressure on Sadiq Khan over rental trial scheme

 

  1. 79-year-old woman in hospital after being knocked down by a scooter

 

  1. Actress Lisa Banes dies after being hit by scooter in Manhattan

 

  1. E-scooter drivers endanger other road users significantly more than cyclists

 

  1. He broke his bones, now no one wants to be liable: An e-scooter accident shows dangerous legal gaps

 

  1. E-Scooter riders have little, if any, protection in case of injury or accident

 

  1. Bronx man dies after falling off e-scooter hitting head on ground

 

  1. Man seriously hurt in Clifton e-scooter crash

 

  1. Moment passengers evacuated as e-scooter ‘explodes’ at London Tube station

 

  1. Oxford e-scooter crash involving pushchair leaves man and child injured

 

  1. Dental injuries on the rise thanks to e-scooter use: study by U of A prof

 

 

Please send these articles to your member of the Ontario Legislature, to your mayor and to your municipal councillor. Tell them to say no to e-scooters. Tell them to stand up for people with disabilities, and to stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

 

To learn more about our two-year non-partisan campaign to protect the public, including people with disabilities, from e-scooters, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

Read about the events 27 years ago today that led up to the birth of Ontario’s enduring disability accessibility movement.

 

^        MORE DETAILS

 

 

Altercation between e-scooter riders and occupants of vehicle before fatal stabbing in downtown Ottawa, police say

 

CTV News – July 28, 2021

Ottawa

 

Originally posted at: https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/altercation-between-e-scooter-riders-and-occupants-of-vehicle-before-fatal-stabbing-in-downtown-ottawa-police-say-1.5526698

 

Ottawa Police are looking for witnesses to a dispute between three e-scooter riders and the driver of a Volkswagen as the investigation continues into Ottawa’s 12th homicide of the year.

 

Eric Hewer, 19, of Nova Scotia died in hospital after being stabbed on Metcalfe Street near Albert Street Monday night. A second victim suffered non-life threatening injuries.

 

On Wednesday, police said the Homicide Unit has identified all persons involved in the dispute that resulted in the stabbing death of Hewer.

 

In a statement, police say anyone with information about an altercation between three riders on e-scooters and the occupants of a black Volkswagen at 8:40 p.m. on Metcalfe Street is asked to contact investigators.

 

You can contact the Ottawa Police Service Homicide Unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5493.

 

Friends and family say Hewer had just moved to Ottawa to start a new job. A GoFundMe page in memory of Hewer said he was out celebrating the new job and his 19th birthday.

 

Vernon woman spent two days in hospital after being struck by rental scooter

 

Castanet, August 28, 2021

Vernon, BC

 

Originally posted at: https://www.castanet.net/news/Vernon/344210/Vernon-woman-spent-two-days-in-hospital-after-being-struck-by-rental-scooter

 

Isobella Zarathustra remembers very little about the actual impact.

 

But the Vernon woman does remember seeing a woman operating a bright orange e-scooter when it slammed in to her as she was walking out of the Freshco parking lot last week.

 

Zarathustra did not immediately realize the extent of the injuries she sustained to her right leg until a few hours after the incident.

 

She spent the next two days at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

 

“I checked in both directions and didn’t see the scooter. That’s how fast it was going,” said Zarathustra who was left lying on the sidewalk in pain as people gathered around.

 

“I was in a lot of pain. I had my femur bone jammed into my buttocks,” she said, adding she has extensive bruising from the collision.

 

While she does not know who was operating the scooter that is part of a rental program introduced to the city earlier this month, she does know it was a female at the controls.

 

“She was yelling at me ‘Don’t sue me. Just don’t sue me. I can’t afford it,’” Zarathustra said.

 

The woman then left the scene.

 

Zarathustra said there were a lot of witnesses to the incident and she is wondering if it was caught on surveillance video from either Freshco or the nearby Schell Motel.

 

Zarathustra said she is not against the scooter program as having the ability to get around town without creating pollution is a good idea, but she is encouraging people using the scooters to be more careful.

 

She is also reminding pedestrians to watch out for the battery-powered machines.

 

 

 

National pedestrian safety campaign backs Chorley mum’s petition for stricter e-scooter laws after daughter hit

 

Lancashire Post – September 1st, 2021

Chorley, UK

Originally posted at: https://www.lep.co.uk/news/people/national-pedestrian-safety-campaign-backs-chorley-mums-petition-for-stricter-e-scooter-laws-after-daughter-hit-3367313

 

Sarah Gayton, Street access campaigns coordinator for the National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK), is backing Naomi Moazzeny’s petition, arguing e-scooters should be completely eradicated.

 

The mum from Chorley set up her online petition, which needs to reach 10,000 signatures, after her five-year-old daughter was hit by a speeding scooter in St James’ Park in London earlier this month.

 

NFBUK is a charity working to improve the overall welfare and quality of daily life for all blind and vision-impaired people, campaigning for spaces where pedestrians are not forced to share spaces with motorised and moving vehicles.

 

And street campaign coordinator Sarah says that e-scooters are ‘an accident waiting to happen’ that should be permanently banned from being used and sold to the public.

 

The news comes as Councillor Keith Martin, who sits on South Ribble Borough Council and Penwortham Town Council, issued a warning to parents who buy their children e-scooters, saying “good luck trying to get cheaper car insurance.”

 

Sarah said: “We are mortified to hear yet again someone has been hit in this way by a scooter when enjoying a day with family in a park. It is so worrying that children can fall victim to these electronic scooters.

 

“People are being taken out left right and centre and it just isn’t good enough. We want the shops to stop selling them and for them to be completely taken off the streets before more people are hurt or killed.

 

“They should not be making a profit off other people’s danger. Even in areas where there are scooter trials, they are still being misused, may be damaged or have faulty breaks or tyres and pose a huge risk to pedestrians.

 

“In cities, you see them left all over the pavements, which is a trip hazard and just totally unacceptable that these city councils are just ignoring their dangers and letting them be used anywhere.

 

“Over the summer there seems to have been one incident after another involving these scooters. It might seem like a green and efficient way of travelling, but people are putting their lives in the hands of a narrow and flimsy machine.

 

“For blind and visually impaired people, it is even more concerning because they can’t move out of the way of a speeding scooter in time. It is terrifying because you can’t get them off the pavement and they could so easily hit someone.”

 

Trials of e-scooters are taking place in 32 UK cities, however, it is illegal to use an e-scooter in public unless it is rented as part of a recognised trial scheme.

 

Salford and Rochdale were among the two latest cities to be introduced to the new trial, with Sarah Gayton speaking to ManchesterWorld about the pilot scheme.

 

Currently, a petition is nearing 10,000 signatures for tougher requirements to be introduced for people using the scooters, including the need for a permit or drivers license.

 

There is a growing list of incidents involving e-scooters and at least four people in the UK have died in e-scooters crashes.

 

And according to an investigation by ITV’s Tonight programme, there have been 1,100 complaints and 210 people have suffered injuries in incidents involving e-scooters since trials began.

 

 

Italy debates electric scooter safety after teenager dies in accident

 

Milan, Italy

Wanted in Milan – September 7th, 2021

Originally posted at: https://www.wantedinmilan.com/news/italy-debates-electric-scooter-safety-after-teen-death.html

 

Five fatal electric scooter accidents in Italy so far this year.

 

The death of a 13-year-old boy in an electric scooter accident near Milan has reignited calls in Italy for stricter regulations to protect the safety of those using the popular mode of transport.

 

The teenager died on 30 August after being allowed to use the electric scooter of a 17-year-old who could now risk facing charges of manslaughter for “omitting due caution in giving his vehicle to a person under the age of 14”, reports news agency ANSA.

 

Helmets for e-scooter users

 

The boy’s death, in Sesto S. Giovanni in the outskirts of Milan, led the town’s mayor Roberto Di Stefano to introduce legislation obliging all electric scooter users to wear a helmet.

 

The mayor also brought in maximum speed limits of 20 km/h on cycle paths and 5 km/h in pedestrian areas.

 

Sesto S. Giovanni is reportedly the first town in Italy to introduce such sanctions, with the mayor announcing on Monday that five people have been fined by local police since the measures come into force last week.

 

Lombardia bill

 

Meanwhile the Lombardia region around Milan has approved a bill amending existing provisions governing electric scooters. The bill would ban under 18s from using e-scooters and enforce all electric scooter drivers to wear helmets.

 

Italian consumer group files complaint over Rome electric scooters

The move comes amid growing calls in Italy for compulsory helmets and speed limits for e-scooter users, with Italy’s association of driving schools saying that training courses and licenses should also be obligatory, reports ANSA.

 

Fatal accidents

 

So far this year five electric scooter users have died in Italy, including 13-year-old Fabio Mosca in Sesto S. Giovanni, reports newspaper La Stampa.

 

On 9 February a 34-year-old woman died in Genoa after being hit by a lorry.

 

A 52-year-old man lost control of his scooter in Infernetto near Rome on 23 June, hitting his face off the ground and dying from the impact.

 

A 27-year-old man from Sri Lanka died in the centre of Florence on 9 August after his e-scooter collided with a moped and he hit his head off the pavement.

 

In Rome, on the Via Gregorio VII cycle path near the Vatican, a 27-year-old man originally from the Philippines died in hospital in recent days, after three weeks in a coma following an incident whose dynamics remain unclear.

 

There was one fatal e-scooter accident in Italy in 2020: on 11 June last year a 60-year-old scooter user was hit by a car at a roundabout in Budrio, in the Bologna area, hitting his head off the ground and dying from his injuries the next day.

 

Italy: Florence wants to make helmets mandatory for electric scooter users

Official ACI-Istat data reveals that between May 2020 and the end of last year there were 564 road accidents in Italy involving at least one electric scooter.

 

E-scooters in Rome

 

Electric scooters have become extremely popular in Rome in recent years, particularly with young people, providing a convenient way to get from A to B, with several scooter rental companies operating in the capital.

 

However the e-scooters are not without their critics who point to the by-now normal sight of users (illegally) carrying passengers, travelling at speed on sidewalks or in the wrong direction on streets, as well as the anti-social “parking” of scooters abandoned on pavements and streets.

 

 

 

E-scooters: Sister of six-year-old boy who had skull fractured by teenage rider calls for under-21 ban

 

Sky News – May 1st, 2021

Originally posted at: https://news.sky.com/story/e-scooters-sister-of-six-year-old-boy-who-suffered-fractured-skull-after-being-hit-by-teenage-rider-calls-for-under-21-ban-12287604

 

The sister of a six-year-old boy who suffered a fractured skull after being hit by an e-scooter rider has called for a ban on the devices for under-21s.

 

It comes as latest figures show more than 70 people have been injured during the government’s e-scooter trials – including 11 people who were seriously hurt.

 

Brooklyn Smith said her little brother Jamie suffers anxiety attacks at the sight of e-scooters after he was knocked unconscious by a teenager riding one of the vehicles in Leicester.

 

The 17-year-old boy, who failed to stop after the collision, pleaded guilty to several offences over the incident including causing a serious injury by dangerous driving.

 

He was sentenced to a 12-month youth referral order and has been banned from the road for two years, Leicestershire Police said.

 

Privately-owned e-scooters are illegal to ride on public roads and pavements. Only rental e-scooters can be ridden on roads in areas taking part in the government’s official trials.

 

Ms Smith, 21, told Sky News that when her family walk past an e-scooter rider now they face Jamie in the opposite direction or change their route “because he has a complete anxiety attack”.

 

She said she continues to see e-scooter riders “flying around on them like there’s no tomorrow” near the family’s home, despite trials of the devices not running in Leicester.

 

Ms Smith told Sky News: “I don’t think they should be able to reach the speeds that they reach.

 

“It’s going to be stupid for us to sit here and say: ‘We want them banned. We never want them to be made again.’ That’s not realistic.

 

“They need to make sure that nothing like this is going to happen again.”

 

Jamie had to be airlifted to hospital after being struck by the e-scooter rider outside his home in August.

 

Ms Smith said her brother still suffers memory loss and it took him six weeks to be able to look in a mirror after the incident “because his own reflection genuinely frightened him”.

 

She has now called for people to be “at least over 21” before they can buy or rent e-scooters.

 

“They’re too easily accessible,” she added.

 

“At the end of the day, the speed they can reach, you’re asking for disaster.”

 

The government is trialling rental e-scooters in more than 40 towns and cities as it considers whether to legalise them on UK roads.

 

The Department for Transport (DfT) told Sky News that 11 incidents involving “serious” injuries have been recorded since the trials were launched last year, up to 25 March this year.

 

It said “serious injuries” meant those which required medical treatment such as fractures, concussion and cuts, but none required “in-patient” treatment.

 

A further 62 incidents involving “slight” injuries were recorded, such as sprains, bruises or cuts, that did not require medical treatment, the DfT added.

 

It said accident rates “appear to be low” as more than two million trips have been taken on rental e-scooters during the trials.

 

But the charity Guide Dogs said it believed the actual number of people injured by e-scooters is “much higher” as some incidents go unreported and the government’s figures do include those which are privately-owned.

 

Chris Theobald, the charity’s senior campaigns manager, said: “In the rush to roll out e-scooters in our towns and cities, people with sight loss are being forgotten.

 

“E-scooters operate quietly which makes them extremely difficult to detect if you can’t see very well.

 

“We need to make e-scooters safer, tackle dangerous and anti-social behaviour by e-scooter drivers and stop unregulated sales of high-speed e-scooters.”

 

A DfT spokesman told Sky News that “while feedback from the trials has been generally positive about their impact, we know there have been a small number of instances where e-scooters have been misused”.

 

Six students were banned from the road in March for drink-driving while riding rental e-scooters in Newcastle – including one who was almost four times over the limit.

 

However the DfT was unable to provide the total number of people convicted of riding e-scooters while over the alcohol limit during the trials.

 

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) also refused to reveal how many people have been prosecuted for riding e-scooters while over the drink-driving limit in England and Wales.

 

Following a freedom of information request by Sky News, the CPS said a “manual review of cases” involving road traffic offences would be needed to determine if e-scooters were involved, which would exceed the cost limit set out by the FOI Act.

 

E-scooter trials are expected to launch in London in the coming weeks, with an announcement on the start date expected after the city’s mayoral election on 6 May.

 

People renting e-scooters from operators taking part in the trials need to have a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence, and they have been urged to wear a helmet.

 

Only rental e-scooters are allowed on roads but not pavements, and they are limited to 15.5mph.

 

Privately-owned e-scooters cannot be used on the UK’s roads – one of the last countries in Europe where this is the case – due to their classification as a motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

 

Motor vehicles are required to have number plates, with users needing to have a driver’s licence, insurance and wear a helmet.

 

In October, MPs recommended that e-scooters should be legalised in the UK within 18 months to help make cities greener.

 

YouTube star Emily Hartridge became the first e-scooter rider to be killed in the UK in July 2019.

 

 

 

Woman who can ‘barely dress’ herself after being hit by e-scooter lashes out

 

Brisbane Times – September 2, 2021

Brisbane, Australia

 

Originally posted at: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/woman-who-can-barely-dress-herself-after-being-hit-by-e-scooter-lashes-out-at-council-20210901-p58nyl.html

 

A Brisbane woman who can “barely dress” herself after she suffered a nose bleed, bruised face and a badly sprained wrist when she was hit by an e-scooter rider has criticised authorities for allowing the vehicles on footpaths.

 

Robyn Abell was on her way to meet her family at the Montague Markets in West End on Thursday, August 26 when she was hit by one of two riders on Beam e-scooters.

 

As a result, she fell to the ground and hit her nose, arm and wrist on the pavement.

 

The 73-year-old said she had X-rays the following morning at Mater Hospital Brisbane Adult Emergency Room.

 

“I didn’t sleep at all, and my arm was very painful,” she said.

 

“I can barely dress myself, so my daughter is having to take time off work to help me.

 

“There are no breakages, but my wrist is badly sprained. The worst thing is not looking after myself and I certainly can’t drive. I’m about $400 out of pocket.”

 

While Brisbane City Council has added 2000 ride-share e-scooters to city streets through a tender process, state government regulations allow them to be ridden on footpaths.

 

Ms Abell said she approached lawyers and was considering her legal options.

 

“There was something to do with this scooter company not having third-party insurance, but they said all I could do is ago ahead with a civil complaint against the riders,” she said.

 

“I don’t want to do that. I’d much rather see something done about the scooters being on the footpath. It’s dangerous.

 

“We’ve already had one person killed in West End. It’s only a matter of time until a child is killed.”

 

The council did not provide injury and crash data to Brisbane Times. However, a spokesman said operators were required to provide data to the council.

 

“This data only covers shared scheme incidents that have been reported to the operators themselves,” he said.

 

“Brisbane’s e-scooter operators are required to have public liability insurance and will be required to have third-party insurance when the insurance industry makes it commonly available.”

 

Greens councillor Jonathan Sri said he was concerned e-scooter crash reports were not being collected by the local and state governments.

 

“Residents like Robyn should be able to feel safe walking along the footpath. I’ve been hearing from quite a few residents who say that local footpaths aren’t wide enough for e-scooters to use them safely,” he said.

 

“Ideally e-scooters should not be sharing space with pedestrians or cars.”

 

Ms Abell reported the issue to council and police and was told “they couldn’t do anything”.

 

A Beam spokeswoman said two minor crashes had been reported in Brisbane since its launch.

 

“In all incidents, we work closely with our riders and community members to support them, and we encourage anyone who witnesses or is involved in an accident involving Beam to reach out directly to us,” she said.

 

A spokesman said Beam was developing third-party liability insurance tailored to a future of widespread micro-mobility.

 

“Beam has comprehensive rider insurance, subject to local regulations,” she said.

 

“Our personal accident insurance policy is written locally by local insurers – the only provider in Brisbane to do this – and is designed to take into account our target audience, which includes Australians under 18.”

 

A Transport and Main Roads spokeswoman said no changes to the laws around e-scooters were being considered at this time.

 

“Personal mobility devices, such as e-scooters, which have become popular following an initiative by Brisbane City Council, are considered pedestrians under the law,” she said.

 

The spokeswoman said riders needed to give way to pedestrians and share the path while travelling no more than 25km/h.

 

“They must also travel at a speed that allows them to stop safely, especially around pedestrians,” she said.

 

“PMDs are able to use bicycle paths, including the Brisbane City Council CityLink Cycleway.

 

“This is because the path is separated from the rest of the road by raised kerbing.”

 

The spokeswoman said riders were not permitted to travel on main roads, on-road bike lanes or on roads in central business district areas for safety reasons.

 

 

 

Paris police search for two e-scooter riders after pedestrian killed

 

The Guardian – June 19th, 2021

Paris, France

Originally posted at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/19/paris-police-search-for-two-e-scooter-riders-after-pedestrian-killed

 

 

Police are searching for two women after a pedestrian who was hit by an electric scooter while walking in Paris died.

 

The victim, a 31-year-old Italian named only as Miriam, had been in a coma since she was hit by the e-scooter, which was reportedly travelling at speed, while she walked along the Seine in the early hours of Monday.

 

Divers from the river police, who were patrolling the area, gave emergency treatment to the victim, who suffered a cardiac arrest after hitting her head on the pavement, until an ambulance arrived.

 

They restarted her heart after 30 minutes and she was taken unconscious to hospital, where she died on Wednesday.

 

The public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into “murder, aggravated by failure to stop”. Police have appealed for witnesses to the fatal incident, which happened at 1am on the Voie Georges-Pompidou on the right bank of the Seine near the Île de la Cité, and are attempting to trace the e-scooter’s two female riders.

 

CCTV in the area is also being examined.

 

The death has rekindled controversy about the place of e-scooters in the French capital. Though hailed as an ecological means of urban transport and a welcome alternative to motorised vehicles, others have claimed they pose a risk to pedestrians, particularly as they are often used on pavements.

 

It also came as London embarked on a 12-month trial of electric scooters on 7 June, after pilot schemes in more than 40 towns and cities across the UK in advance of a government decision whether to legalise them on UK roads.

 

About 70 people are believed to have been injured since the trials were launched last year. Privately owned e-scooters are illegal to use on public roads, cycle lanes and pavements, but those rented in trial areas can be used on roads and cycle lanes.

 

A scheme operated by the Swedish firm Voi in Coventry was paused after five days because of people riding in pedestrianised areas.

 

There are three licensed private operators in Paris offering about 15,000 electric scooters, introduced to the city in 2018.

 

David Belliard, a deputy Paris mayor responsible for transport in the city, expressed his condolences to family and friends of the dead woman, originally from Capalbio in Tuscany, who worked in an Italian restaurant.

 

“The safety of the most vulnerable, that’s to say pedestrians, is one of my priorities,” he said, and called on the two riders to come forward.

 

Police in Balaruc-les-Bains in the Hérault region stopped a man riding at 98km/h (61mph) on an electric scooter in May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child taken to hospital following e-scooter collision

 

Daily Echo – September 4th, 2021

Bournemouth, UK

 

Originally posted at: https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/19558409.child-taken-hospital-following-e-scooter-collision/

 

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD boy has been taken to hospital with a suspected fractured collarbone following a collision with an e-scooter on Bournemouth seafront.

 

The incident occurred at 1pm on Friday, September 3, on the promenade near to Boscombe Pier during the second day of the Bournemouth Air Festival.

 

The boy, from Christchurch, was taken to Poole Hospital following the incident.

 

The e-scooter rider, a man in his 30s from Lancashire, has been interviewed on suspicion of driving offences under The Road Traffic Act.

 

An investigation into the collision is underway.

 

Dorset Police is urging e-scooter riders to be aware of pedestrians and other road users.

 

The e-scooter involved was hired through Beryl as part of a trial currently operating in Bournemouth and Poole, which allows individuals to hire an e-scooter from an official government scheme and ride legally. These scooters have a reduced speed limit.

 

Privately owned e-scooters are currently illegal to use in public places such as pavements, cycle lanes, beach promenades or any publicly accessible land, such as parks.

 

Police Sergeant Lee Savage, of the traffic unit, said: “This collision happened during the Bournemouth Air Festival, which has seen hundreds of thousands of people visit the seafront with thousands more visitors expected over the weekend.

 

“We are yet again urging people not to ride either Beryl or privately-owned e-scooters inside the festival site because of the sheer number of people in the area and to help keep people safe.

 

“Throughout this weekend our officers and council staff will be stopping people riding e-scooters inside the festival site area. If they are privately-owned, they will be seized and if they are part of the Beryl scheme, riders will be encouraged to dismount. Should they commit any offences they will be dealt with under the Road Traffic Act.”

 

A spokesperson for Beryl said: ”We are very sorry to hear of this incident in Bournemouth, and will be supporting in any way we can. We send our very best wishes to the young boy who has been injured, and hope for a speedy recovery.

 

”All riders of Beryl e-scooters, as part of the ongoing Department for Transport trial, must do so sensibly and in line with our rules and guidelines.

 

”Users of all types of vehicles should take care when travelling in shared spaces, especially when there is a high number of pedestrians.”

 

The illegal use of e-scooters remains an important element of Dorset Police’s Operation Relentless anti-social behaviour priority and this summer the Force has carried out two days of action.

 

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick said: “This must have been a horrible experience for the young child involved and I wish him a speedy recovery, but this incident once again highlights the dangers posed by using e-scooters in public places.

 

“Please, if you’re travelling to the Air Festival this weekend on a Beryl e-scooter, don’t use it at the event itself – it’s far too busy. And, if you’re travelling in a public place on a private e-scooter, you run the risk of having the item seized.”

 

In total since the beginning of the year, more than 40 riders of privately owned e-scooters have been stopped and spoken to before being issued with warnings.

 

Officers also have the power to seize e-scooters that are either found to be used illegally or involved in criminal activity.

 

 

 

 

Moment teenager on an e-scooter almost ploughs into a lorry while riding on the WRONG side of the road

 

Daily Mail – September 10th, 2021

Isle of Wight, UK

 

Originally posted at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9977013/E-scooter-rider-ploughs-lorry-riding-WRONG-road.html

 

The moment an e-scooter rider almost ploughs into a lorry while travelling on the wrong side of the ride has been caught on video.

 

The near-miss was captured on Andy Phillips’ dash cam while he was driving his lorry in Nettlestone, Isle of Wight, on Wednesday evening.

 

The footage shows the fish and chip shop owner travelling along a dark road before the teenager on a hired electric scooter appears from a side road.

 

Travelling on the wrong side of the road, the teenager tries to stop as he sees Andy’s mobile chippy truck.

 

He skids and manages to scramble off the e-scooter and slips into the path of the lorry and hits the front of it.

 

Andy – who runs the Jolly Fryer, on the Isle of Wight – said the youth was fortunate to escape unharmed.

 

Andy, who runs the Jolly Fryer fish and chip shop on the Isle of Wight, said he ‘could so easily have been waking up with the thought of having someone die under the wheels of my truck’

 

But he added: ‘I could so easily have been waking up with the thought of having someone die under the wheels of my truck.

 

‘He was on the wrong side of the road.

 

‘He clearly didn’t expect other traffic to be on the roads. He appeared to be of school age.

 

‘His excuse? ‘It just went into a skid, I wasn’t going too fast’.’

 

Andy alerted police and was told the incident had been logged, but that no further action will be taken.

 

Andy said the teen was on a Beryl e-scooter that can be hired across the UK from councils – including in Bournemouth, Dorset and Norwich, Norfolk.

 

Andy added: ‘I phoned the Isle of Wight Council on Thursday, because according to blurb put out at the start of the scheme they were proud to be part of such a groundbreaking idea.

 

‘But they apparently have no idea who, on the Island, runs them and also didn’t want to know.’

 

Isle of Wight Council has been approached for comment.

 

A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘We received a report of a collision on Nettlestone Hill, at 8.57pm on 8 September.

 

‘An E-scooter had gone underneath a lorry. The rider was not on the scooter at the point of the collision and no-one was injured.’

 

In 2018, there were four recorded e-scooter collisions in London, which rose to 32 in 2019. Accident numbers are thought to be under-reported, as riders using them in prohibited areas are unlikely to tell police about collisions.

 

Figures show the number of riders harmed in collisions in London alone leapt from 27 in 2019 to 181 between January and November 2020.

 

The number of pedestrians hurt by e-scooters doubled over the same period, from 13 to 26, according to data released under Freedom of Information legislation.

 

A study by TfL, based on US data, found riders needed hospital treatment after accidents every 3.1 years on average, with many suffering head or neck injuries.

 

 

 

Three-year-old girl left with ‘life-changing’ injuries after collision with man riding e-scooter

 

The Independent – July 20th, 2021

London, UK

 

Originally posted at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/toddler-escooter-accident-london-police-b1887563.html

 

A three-year-old girl has been left with “life-changing” injuries after a collision with a young man riding an e-scooter in a south London park, according to police.

 

The toddler and her family were at Myatt’s Fields Park in Lambeth when the incident took place, at about 8:30pm on Monday.

 

 

 

 

Electric scooters drive accident epidemic as young man, 20, latest to die in collision

 

Express – July 1, 2021

Wolverhampton, UK

 

Originally posted at: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1456898/electric-scooters-collision-deaths-accident-epidemic

 

Shakur Pinnock, 20, suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, two severed arteries, a broken jaw and punctured lungs when his electric stand-up scooter was involved in a collision with a car in Wolverhampton last month. His girlfriend Chanté Hoosang, who was a passenger on the scooter, was also seriously injured. Just six days after the incident, Pinnock died from his injuries at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. His mother Celine Fraser-Pinnock posted the message on Facebook: “I miss you so much. My beautiful, gorgeous baby.”

 

Despite such obvious dangers, e-scooters are now a common sight on the streets of Britain. Many road users tell stories about nearly being hit or watching e-scooters weaving through traffic, across pavements or the wrong way up one-way streets.

 

Sometimes carrying passengers, often young children, their riders almost never wear helmets. Aside from Department for Transport-sanctioned trials staged around the UK right now, they are illegal except on private land. Riders risk a £300 fixed penalty notice and six points on their driving licence if stopped by police.

 

Predominantly made overseas, bought and sold online and costing as little as £300, which puts them within the reach of young people, their availability and ease of use has seen tens of thousands sold in the UK.

 

Research suggests they are 100 times more dangerous than bicycles, yet arrests and seizures by the authorities appear relatively uncommon. At least four people including Shakur Pinnock are now known to have died in accidents across the UK involving these new battery-powered scooters

 

Perhaps the most high-profile case was that of 35-year-old TV presenter Emily Hartridge who, in July 2019, was killed in a collision with a lorry in south London.

 

She is believed to be the UK’s first fatality involving such a vehicle.

 

“We all loved her to bits and she will never be forgotten,” her family said after the tragic accident. “She has touched so many lives.”

 

Emily’s boyfriend, Jake Hazell, a former contestant on the 2021 series of TV show SAS: Who Dares Wins, bought the e-scooter for her and later explained how much he regretted the gift.

 

“It is an adult toy and obviously there is a massive risk that comes with it,” he told the BBC. “The road had a massive part to play in Emily’s accident. The condition of the road was shocking. It wasn’t necessarily Emily’s, the scooter’s or the driver’s fault. I don’t blame the driver whatsoever.” Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens of the Metropolitan Police’s road and transport policing command, says e-scooters “remain notoriously dangerous, and illegal when driven in public areas or on the roads”.

 

He added: “Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is the equivalent of riding a motorcycle on the road without any MOT, tax or insurance.”

 

Last week police confiscated more than 500 e-scooters from the streets of London during “proactive patrols” across all boroughs. There are also suggestions they have become the ride-of-choice for criminals, with robberies, assaults and even in one alarming incident a drive-by shooting having been carried out on the devices.

 

The legal scooters being used in the Department for Transport trials are capped with a top speed of 15.5mph. However, Chief Supt Ovens is concerned that illegal users sometimes modify them to go faster. “Whilst we have seized e-scooters which can operate up to 40mph, there are some which can reach 70mph,” he said.

 

Most e-scooters are designed so that riders stand on a narrow deck, supported by small wheels – often with pneumatic tyres – which are propelled by an electric battery-powered motor. At the front, a stem rises up to handlebars where the brakes and accelerator are operated.

 

Users see these vehicles as a fast and convenient way to commute, while certain pedestrians view them as a menace. Used responsibly, they can transport riders around busy towns in record time.

 

But at full speed and without due care and attention – or carrying extra passengers – they risk injury and death.

 

In June 2020 57-year-old charity fundraiser Barrie Howes lost control of his scooter while speeding down a steep road in Chatham, Kent. He was thrown off and, despite wearing a helmet, suffered brain injuries. Nine days later he died in hospital. In September 2020 55-year-old Julian Thomas was killed when his e-scooter struck a parked car in Swansea.

 

The legal scooters being used in the Department for Transport trials are capped with a top speed of 15.5mph. However, Chief Supt Ovens is concerned that illegal users sometimes modify them to go faster. “Whilst we have seized e-scooters which can operate up to 40mph, there are some which can reach 70mph,” he said.

 

So far the Department for Transport has recorded more than two million trips, covering a total distance of more than 3.1 million miles.

 

“We believe that e-scooters can offer an affordable, reliable and sustainable way to travel during a time of social distancing, improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the UK,” a department spokesperson said. “E-scooters could help ease the burden on our transport network.”

 

Living Streets is a charity which campaigns for pedestrians.

 

“Pavements are for people, but more and more people are scooting on them illegally,” said chief executive Stephen Edwards.

 

“The speed, acceleration and quietness of e-scooters causes alarm to pedestrians. We need speeds to be capped and robust police enforcement against dangerous riders. We previously asked the Government to cap speeds at 12.5mph instead of the 15.5mph adopted for the trials.”

 

Edwards claims that e-scooters are more difficult to handle than bicycles.

 

“They have smaller wheels, the footplates are closer to the ground and if you meet a pothole you are much more likely to come off than if you are cycling.

 

“The poor state of our roads combined with high levels of traffic lead us to believe that we don’t have the right infrastructure currently in place to support e-scooters

 

 

 

Teen e-scooter rider pleads guilty in incident which caused pedestrian severe brain injuries

 

Strait Times – June 13th, 2018

Singapore

Originally posted at: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/teen-e-scooter-rider-pleads-guilty-in-incident-which-caused-pedestrian-severe

 

Just two months after his father gave him an electric scooter, a teenager knocked into a pedestrian, causing her to suffer severe brain injuries.

 

Nicholas Ting Nai Jie, 18, had failed to keep a proper lookout while riding the e-scooter on Sept 17, 2016.

 

Madam Ang Liu Kiow, a 55-year-old mother of three, was left in a month-long coma. Her husband told The Straits Times in a subsequent interview that his wife can no longer remember the past or express herself properly.

 

On Wednesday (June 13), Ting pleaded guilty to causing grievous hurt to Madam Ang, a housewife, while riding his e-scooter in a negligent manner.

 

The court heard that the 14kg device cost $1,600 and his father had bought it in July 2016.

 

On the day of the incident, Ting had his girlfriend with him on the e-scooter and they made their way to Pasir Ris East Community Club.

 

The instructions manual of his e-scooter had warned against riding with a pillion rider but he ignored it.

 

The teenager was moving at about 15kmh on a footpath in Pasir Ris Drive 1 when he approached a bus stop.

 

The court heard that he failed to keep a proper lookout and did not reduce his speed even though there were pedestrians in the vicinity. He also did not sound the horn to inform them that he was approaching the area.

 

When Madam Ang stepped onto the footpath in front of the bus stop, Ting applied the brakes but it was too late.

 

Assistant Public Prosecutor Dillon Kok said: “The e-scooter impacted the left side of the victim, causing her to fall and hit her head on the ground. After the collision, the victim sat on the footpath and appeared dazed.

 

“She was helped by pedestrians to rest on the seats of the bus stop. It was observed that her eyes were open but she was not responsive. She also vomited yellowish fluid a few times.”

 

Ting and his girlfriend remained at the scene and alerted the police. An ambulance took Madam Ang to Changi General Hospital, where she was found to be bleeding in her brain.

 

The court heard that her medical, hospitalisation and therapy fees have come up to more than $107,000. After government subsidies and an insurance payout, her out-of-pocket expenses were $2,470.65 as of August last year.

 

Ting is expected to be sentenced on Thursday.

 

On May 1 this year, new laws governing the use of personal mobility devices such as e-scooters were rolled out. As part of the Active Mobility Act, power-assisted bicycles are not allowed on footpaths while e-scooters are banned on public roads.

 

The speed limits are 15kmh on footpaths and 25kmh on park connectors and shared paths.

 

First-time offenders who flout the usage rules and speed limits may be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to three months, or both. Repeat offenders may have their fine and jail terms doubled.

 

The new law also sets limits on the size and speed of the devices that can be used on public paths. These cannot weigh more than 20kg each and must have their speeds capped at 25kmh.

 

Those who use devices that flout these rules can be jailed for up to three months and fined up to $5,000.

 

 

 

Girl’s jaw and gums had to be realigned after accident with e-scooter; rider arrested

 

Today Online – April 13, 2018

Singapore

Originally posted at: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/girls-jaw-and-gums-had-be-realigned-after-accident-e-scooter-rider-arrested

 

An 11-year-old girl had to have her jaw and gums realigned, after an e-scooter crashed into her on Thursday (April 12) evening along Pasir Ris Drive 1.

 

The child, who also lost two of her teeth and suffered multiple cuts and abrasions, “cried when she saw her face in the mirror”, said her father Rahmat Nizam Samat, 38, a civil servant.

 

The police say they have arrested the e-scooter rider, a 24-year-old man. Investigations are ongoing.

 

Recounting the incident, Mr Rahmat said his wife received a call from an unknown number at around 7.15pm on Thursday, telling her that her daughter had been involved in an accident and was “bleeding from her mouth outside Pasir Ris East Community Club”.

 

He rushed to the scene, where he was told that his daughter had been hit from the back by an e-scooter. She was later taken to the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, where a doctor had to realign her jaw and gums.

 

The child also suffered cuts and abrasions to her head, under the right eye, left palm, elbows and knees. She is currently on seven days of medical leave.

 

“She has not been able to eat anything except a few pieces of watermelons due to her swollen gums,” said Mr Rahmat.

 

He added that he will be seeking legal action against the e-scooter rider once the police have concluded their investigations.

 

Thursday’s incident is the latest in a series of accidents involving pedestrians and users of e-scooters and personal mobility devices.

 

Last month, three e-scooter drivers were charged in court for injuring pedestrians, among them a 61-year-old woman and two boys aged eight and 11, on three separate occasions in 2017.

 

Mandatory registration of e-scooters was announced in March this year by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), which had earlier introduced similar requirements for electric bicycles. Tough new penalties have also kicked in for unregistered or non-compliant e-bikes.

 

The authorities have been taking tougher action against errant users of personal mobility devices like e-scooters and e-bikes in the past year, amid growing complaints about speeding and reckless behaviour by the riders.

 

In January, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament that there were 30 e-scooter accidents involving pedestrians on footpaths and walkways between January and September last year. The Minister also noted that the LTA had issued more than 1,700 advisories for unsafe riding behaviour that year.

 

 

 

Canterbury woman struck by electric scooter suffers two broken limbs

 

Kent Online – November 27th, 2020

Canterbury, UK

Originally posted at: https://www.kentonline.co.uk/canterbury/news/i-was-hit-by-an-e-scooter-but-it-felt-like-a-car-238143/

 

A mum-of-three suffered two broken limbs when she was knocked down by an electric scooter while walking along a pavement.

 

Pauline Lilford, 58, has been left bed-bound and unable to care for her elderly mother who has dementia, following the “shocking” crash in Canterbury.

 

She says the incident has left her concerned about the roll-out of e-scooters across the city – fearing things could have been much worse had a child or elderly person been struck.

 

“You’d think ‘oh it’s just a scooter’, but with the injuries that have come from it, it’s more like I’ve been hit by a car,” she said.

 

Mrs Lilford was on a morning stroll with her husband at about 8am on November 10, when she was knocked to the floor by a man illegally riding a privately-owned scooter on St Thomas’ Hill.

 

“I was on the inside of the pavement,” she said. “We were just chatting about the day ahead.

 

“I didn’t hear anything. Then I was aware of somebody shouting and I turned slightly, and was hit from behind.

 

“I didn’t know what had hit me until I was on the ground. Then I realised it was a young chap on a scooter.

 

“My husband and I were both completely shocked.

 

“I tried to get up but I couldn’t. Then the pain kicked in, and I started shaking with shock.”

 

Mrs Lilford, of Forty Acres Road, thanked those who stopped to help her – including an off-duty doctor, and those who lent her a mobile phone and duvet.

 

She described the scooter rider as “very shaken up” by the crash. Police soon arrived, and he was issued with a Traffic Offence Report for use of a vehicle without insurance, while the scooter was seized.

 

Mrs Lilford was taken by ambulance to the QEQM hospital in Margate with fractures to her arm and leg.

 

She was in hospital for five days, requiring surgery to rewire her elbow which was “smashed up” in the crash.

 

She is now back at home on bed-rest, but is facing further repercussions on her family life.

 

Her 85-year-old mum, who has dementia and usually lives with Mrs Lilford, has had to be placed in a nursing home while she is unable to care for her.

 

“It’s just added to the trauma, really,” said Mrs Lilford.

 

Due to Covid-19 measures, the care home was unable to accept her mum if she had been in contact with Mrs Lilford after her stay in hospital.

 

“So mum had to go in before I came home, and I haven’t seen her since the crash,” she said.

 

Mrs Lilford is also facing up to two months off work, from her job as office manager at her husband’s chartered surveyors firm in Canterbury.

 

“Poor Mike is having to get extra help in to do my job, and then train people on what to do,” she said.

 

“And we’re very busy – we were run off our feet before this happened, so it’s very frustrating.”

 

A 12-month trial of e-scooters launched in Canterbury just a week before the crash.

 

The vehicles are currently operating on a restricted route serving students from the city’s universities, but it is hoped the trial will be expanded to cover large areas of the city in the coming year.

 

While the man who crashed into her was riding a privately owned e-scooter – which is currently illegal in public areas – Mrs Lilford says she has been left concerned about the wider roll-out of the vehicles.

 

“It’s made me feel quite frightened, and wary of it,” she said.

 

“You’d think ‘oh it’s just a scooter’, but with the injuries that have come from it, it’s more like I’ve been hit by a car.

 

“If it is going to happen, the regulations need to be so stringent. But how can they actually make sure that people are sticking to it?

 

“I’m not keen on them at all – I don’t think it’s such a good idea. I think what happened needs highlighting.

 

“Being 58, I think I’m reasonably fit. But if it had been someone frailer, or a child that was hit, it could have been a very different story.”

 

Trial safety

 

It is hoped safety features such as a speed cap will prevent similar incidents from occurring during the city’s e-scooter trial.

 

Bird – the electric scooter lending company appointed by Kent County Council to head up the trial – declined to comment on the crash and Mrs Lilford’s concerns.

 

Just days before the incident, city councillor Dave Wilson had raised concerns over the danger e-scooters could pose to pedestrians. But it is hoped that technology used by Bird – which remotely controls where the authorised scooters can go, and how fast – will prevent such incidents happening during the trial.

 

On main roads with cycle lanes, Bird scooters can go up to 15mph, while in pedestrian areas they are capped at 5mph.

 

Meanwhile other areas are designated “no ride zones” and they power down if they cross the trial boundary.

 

Bird has not had any incidents since launching in Canterbury.

 

Insp Guy Thompson, of Canterbury Community Safety Unit, warned e-scooters are subject to the same legal requirements as motor vehicles. He said anyone found using them illegally faces a potential fine and the scooter being seized.

 

 

 

E-scooter casualties in London soar by 570% as number of pedestrians hurt DOUBLES in a year – putting pressure on Sadiq Khan over rental trial scheme

 

Daily Mail – June 26th, 2021

London, UK

Originally posted at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9729033/E-scooter-casualties-London-soar-570-number-pedestrians-hurt-DOUBLES-year.html

 

E-scooter casualties in London soared by more than 570 per cent in just a year – but the true increase is likely to be far higher.

 

Figures show the number of riders injured in collisions in the capital leapt from 27 in 2019 to 181 between January and November 2020.

 

The number of pedestrians hurt by e-scooters doubled over the same period, from 13 to 26, according to data released under Freedom of Information legislation.

 

In an email to crash victims passed to The Mail on Sunday by a pedestrian hit by an e-scooter, a Metropolitan Police officer admitted: ‘We know collisions are increasing, but they are still incredibly under-reported.’

 

The force has recently cracked down on illegal e-scooter use in the capital, seizing more than 500 last week. Despite that, the sharp rise in collisions will put London Mayor Sadiq Khan under pressure after he gave the green light to a year-long e-scooter rental trial in six of the capital’s boroughs.

 

It comes as charities warn that e-scooters are endangering the lives of blind people, even forcing them to re-train their guide dogs.

 

Sarah Gayton, street access campaign co-ordinator at the National Federation of the Blind, said: ‘The mounting deaths, serious head injuries, broken bones and lives devastated or changed forever has to be a wake-up call to the very politicians who allowed the trials to start. When there are so many other mobility options available in cities and towns, why would you put your life at risk by jumping on an e-scooter?’

 

More than 70 per cent of the public have reported seeing an e-scooter being driven illegally on a pavement, according to a survey of over 2,000 people by the charity Guide Dogs. A spokesman said: ‘Fast-moving and silent vehicles such as e-scooters are always much more difficult for blind and partially sighted people to detect and thus it becomes very difficult for the dog’s training to be reinforced.’

 

Vaughan Rees, 79, who lost his sight 40 years ago in a car accident, was nearly knocked over by an e-scooter outside his local Tesco store in Warwickshire. ‘The incident has made me feel frightened and shaken up,’ he said. ‘Because the scooters are silent it gives me the added disadvantage of being oblivious to them. I have to heavily rely on my hearing, which is not good.’

 

Zoe Courtney, of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said: ‘E-scooters are fast-moving, difficult to detect and are often ridden on the pavement, despite this being illegal.

 

‘We want to see the rules on not using e-scooters on pavements enforced, adequate off-pavement parking provided, and the appropriate street infrastructure in place to keep pedestrians safe.’

 

 

 

79-year-old woman in hospital after being knocked down by a scooter

 

Majorca Daily Bulletin – July 20th, 2021

Majorca, Spain

Originally posted at: https://www.majorcadailybulletin.com/news/local/2021/08/20/88425/year-old-woman-mallorca-hospital-after-scooter-accident.html

 

Palma police say that barely a day passes without there being an accident involving an electric scooter. Some accidents are serious – a 17-year-old was badly injured on Wednesday when he went through a red light and was knocked down. The day before, 79-year-old Daniela was knocked down on a pedestrian crossing. She lost consciousness and was admitted to the Clinica Rotger (close to the scene of the accident) with fractures to an arm and to the face. Doctors have yet to decide if she will need an operation.

 

Daniela’s daughter, Cristina, says that her mother was on the pedestrian crossing when she was knocked down by a young man on a scooter. “She couldn’t react, she didn’t see him.” Cristina is outraged by his recklessness and by the fact that he has seemingly shown no interest in how her mother is. “We don’t ask for much more.”

 

Witnesses say that the scooter rider was aged around 25 and that he kept repeating to the police that he had stopped. Given witness statements and reports, the matter is likely to end up in court.

 

Cristina, meanwhile, believes that “politicians have to be aware of what is happening and take some kind of action”. “It’s not right that these vehicles circulate in the same places where people walk.”

 

 

 

Actress Lisa Banes dies after being hit by scooter in Manhattan

 

ABC 7 – June 15th, 2021

NYC, USA

Originally posted at: https://abc7ny.com/lisa-banes-gone-girl-nyc-dies-after-scooter-accident/10791816/

 

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) — Actress Lisa Banes, known for her supporting roles in “Gone Girl” and “Cocktail,” has died after being struck by a scooter on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

 

She was 65.

 

“I am brokenhearted to share that Lisa, my beautiful wife and my love, passed away last night,” wife Kathryn Kranhold said. “Lisa has remained unconscious since being the victim of a hit and run near Lincoln Center on June 4th. She suffered a traumatic brain injury. Lisa’s brother, Evan Sinclair, and sister-in-law, Hallie Atkinson, and I were by her side for the last 10 days, as well as some dear and loving friends. We appreciate the love, support and prayers from all of you across the country. Lisa was listening. We want to express our everlasting gratitude to the medical staff at Mount Sinai Morningside for their expertise and empathy. We look forward to celebrating Lisa, her life and work, in New York City in the fall.”

 

Banes was hit by a scooter around 7:30 p.m. on June 4 at the intersection of Amsterdam Avenue and West 64th Street.

 

The actress was crossing Amsterdam Avenue on the way to visit the Juilliard School, her alma mater, publicist David Williams said.

 

The driver of the scooter fled from the scene, and so far, there have been no arrests.

 

Williams said Banes was taken to Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital, where she eventually succumbed to her injuries.

 

“We are heartsick over Lisa’s tragic and senseless passing,” Williams said. “She was a woman of great spirit, kindness and generosity and dedicated to her work, whether on stage or in front of a camera and even more so to her wife, family and friends. We were blessed to have had her in our lives.”

 

Banes appeared in numerous television shows and movies, including “Gone Girl” with Ben Affleck in 2014 and “Cocktail” with Tom Cruise in 1988.

 

On television, she’s had roles on “Nashville,” “Madam Secretary,” “Masters of Sex” and “NCIS.”

 

 

 

Russian ballet dancer from Saint Petersburg’s famous Mariinsky Theatre in coma after falling from electric scooter at high speed

 

RT – May 18th, 2021

Saint Petersburg, Russia

 

Originally posted at: https://www.rt.com/russia/524105-mariinsky-theater-soloist-electric-scooter-incident/

 

A soloist from Saint Petersburg’s prestigious Mariinsky Theatre has been placed in a coma after crashing an electric scooter and falling hard on the pavement. He is now in critical condition, after suffering from cranial trauma.

David Zaleyev has been dancing at the Mariinsky since 2013, and has won multiple awards for his solo performances. According to the theatre’s press service, which spoke to local news outlet 78.ru, Zaleyev is currently in hospital, having undergone a cranial trepanation following a brain hemorrhage.

 

Videos of the incident published online show Zaleyev attempting to weave his way through a group of pedestrians. He appears to clip one of the men on the sidewalk, causing him to take a tumble and smash his head on the ground. According to newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda St. Petersburg, citing a source, the ballet dancer may have been intoxicated.

 

The man was found in a severe state of acute alcohol poisoning,” the source said. “It was impossible to question him – he had a closed cranial trauma and concussion of the brain.”

 

In recent years, electric scooter-sharing services have been popping up all around Russia. In Saint Petersburg, the Whoosh and Molnia apps have become popular as a convenient way to get around town.

 

 

E-scooter drivers endanger other road users significantly more than cyclists

 

Spiegel – January 7th, 2021

Germany

 

Originally posted at: https://www.spiegel.de/auto/e-scooter-2020-sieben-tote-und-hunderte-schwerverletzte-bei-unfaellen-von-januar-bis-september-a-49161708-627c-4c63-9b95-b055552c261e

 

Seven people were killed in accidents with e-scooters in the first nine months of last year. 269 drivers of the batteries-powered scooters were seriously injured, 1096 suffered minor injuries, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

 

In total, the police registered 1570 accidents with the smallest electric vehicles from January to September, in which there were deaths or injuries. Siegfried Brockmann, head of accident research at insurers (UDV), warns one value is alarming: “In 21 percent of e-scooter accidents with personal injury, the accident is not the driver, but another road user.” In the case of bicycle accidents, this value is only five percent, the accident researcher explains to SPIEGEL.

 

Scooter drivers often use the sidewalk

 

This is mainly due to the fact that scooter drivers often lead irregularly on the footpath. “One of our studies shows that in almost 60 percent of cases, people drive on the footpath, although you would actually have to use the road or the bike path,” says Brockmann.

However, many drivers apparently are not even aware of this violation. According to a survey, 25 percent of drivers think they are allowed to drive on footpath, complains the accident researcher. He is therefore in favor of a Europe-wide information campaign to sensitize drivers in this country, but also tourists.

 

However, the frequency of accidents can only be compared to a limited extent with that of other means of transport. “Unfortunately, there is no movement data for the e-scooters,” explains Brockmann. You don’t know at the moment how high the mileage of the scooters is – this is crucial for comparisons. “I therefore expect the providers to disclose this data,” says Brockmann.

 

2020 difficult to compare year

 

At the same time, 2020 is an atypical year, explains the accident researcher. Due to the corona pandemic, the providers have meanwhile restricted or completely suspended their operations. In addition, a large part of the tourists who otherwise often use the scooters fell away. In addition, the electric standing scooters are a comparatively new phenomenon.

 

The scooter accidents have only been collected separately since the beginning of 2020. The e-scooters have been approved for road traffic in Germany since June 2019. The number of e-scooter accidents with personal injury increased in the spring and summer of last year: 252 were recorded between January and March, between April and June 417. According to the information, the number was highest between July and September with 901 accidents: Four people were killed, 145 seriously injured and 627 slightly injured

 

 

 

He broke his bones, now no one wants to be liable: An e-scooter accident shows dangerous legal gaps

 

Business Insider – November 28th, 2021

Germany

 

Originally posted at: https://www.businessinsider.de/wirtschaft/mobility/er-brach-sich-die-knochen-jetzt-will-niemand-haften-ein-e-scooter-unfall-zeigt-gefaehrliche-gesetzesluecken-a/

 

As on any other day, Klaus Bopp set off for work around 8:35 a.m. this Tuesday morning. Bopp is blind from birth, orients himself with a long stick and has been walking this route in Bremen’s Neustadt for 30 years. He knows every millimeter. After about two minutes, it happens: Shortly before a crossroads, the 50-year-old falls over two e-scooters lying across the sidewalk. He still captures one with the stick, on the second he no longer has a chance. He falls on the right hip and contracts a femoral neck fracture.

 

“I had such anger, because the things are not standing in the way for the first time without warning,” recalls Bopp in conversation with Business Insider. It was clear to him: There had to be an accident at some point.

The anger will boil up again at Bopp even in the months after the accident. Gradually it turns out: Nobody wants to be responsible for the bone fracture. Neither the Swedish rental company Voi, which set up the e-scooters on the morning of the accident, nor Voi’s liability insurance, nor the city of Bremen, which granted an operating license for the scooters. The case is also tricky from a legal point of view, although it is well documented by the police and eyewitnesses. The question of who is to blame for the fall over the overturned e-scooters is completely unresolved and reveals large gaps in regulation in Germany.

 

Bopp’s lawyer wants to set a precedent

 

Neither the authorities nor the e-scooter company Voi contact the injured Bopp. At our request, the company says that they are very saddened by this tragic accident. “We are doing our best to find a suitable solution for everyone,” says Stockholm headquarters. However, the solution still does not exist today. Because Bopp cannot believe that his bone fracture should remain without consequences, he turns to the legal advice of the German Blind and Visually Impaired Association. There, the business lawyer Thomas Hiby takes over the case. He now wants to set a precedent and go to court with a claim for damages. According to the pain and suffering allowance table, a sum between 12,000 and 25,000 euros would be common. If Hiby succeeds in this, it would probably have consequences for the entire e-scooter industry in Germany.

The search for the culprit proves difficult. The police, who arrive at the scene of the accident a few minutes after the fall, initially assume property damage. Even in the ambulance, Bopp is questioned as a possible suspect, not as a victim. If you run against it, you are the cause and thus to blame for the accident, writes Bopp in the memory protocol. The accusation is quickly clarified, but further investigations are not carried out. Not even the police could contact Voi “in a reasonable time”, says the police report.

 

Vois lawyers and insurance companies point to liability gap

 

Lawyer Hiby also has to wait a few weeks for feedback: The company’s lawyers see “no basis for liability.” They refer to an unknown third party who is said to have knocked over the properly installed scooters. However, the company has no responsibility for this, write Voi’s lawyers.

 

The DEVK, with which Voi has taken out statutory liability insurance, also follows this line of argument. If the users of the e-scooters have parked them properly, the subsequent behavior of uninvolved third parties cannot be attributed to the owner Voi, says Business Insider. In addition, she explains that it only covers accidents from moving scooters. She wouldn’t step in for a fall over an upright e-scooter either.

A plausible scenario is establishing itself for both the company and insurance – one that relieves all parties involved from responsibility.

No matter how many people stumble over lying e-scooters, according to the law neither the insurance nor the owner of the e-scooters is responsible for this. Lawyer Hiby evaluates the facts differently. Anyone who creates a source of danger must also bear proportionate responsibility.

 

Eleven days of hospital

 

For Klaus Bopp, the fall had far-reaching consequences. After the accident, he was in hospital for eleven days, had to undergo surgery. The doctors assume that it will take three to six months for him to return to normal. Today, almost four months after the accident, he still cannot return to work. Since he works in the public sector, his professional association covers the treatment costs. Nevertheless, he suffers financial losses, because instead of full salary he receives sick pay. It is not only the physical and financial consequences that bother him. “I am also concerned psychologically about this. I’m no longer at the same pace as I used to, because I have to reckon with the things everywhere.”

 

There are almost no parking rules

 

In Germany, e-scooters are generally allowed to park anywhere on the sidewalk as long as the municipality does not prescribe stricter rules. That’s why the police apparently come to the conclusion in the Klaus Bopp case that the e-scooters were parked in accordance with the law, even though they protruded from the wall of the house across the sidewalk.

 

The legislator has not formulated clear rules on where e-scooters may be installed, says lawyer Hiby to Business Insider. He sees this as a serious legislative gap.

 

In many places, this regulatory gap leads to parking chaos on the sidewalks. Bopp’s hometown Bremen is one of the few cities that has established clear rules of the game. The city has prescribed to Voi that at least 1.50 meters of remaining walkway must remain when parking. If someone complains to the public order office, the e-scooter providers have 24 hours to change the vehicles.

 

Business model favors wildlife parking

 

The business model of the e-scooter companies is strongly based on the fact that the scooters can be found wherever possible. “Availability is crucial,” says a spokesman for Voi. In the industry, we speak of the “free floating model”. Every customer can borrow them and park them again where they feel like it.

For Hilke Groenewold, expert for accessibility at the German Blind and Visually Impaired Association, this is precisely the danger, especially for visually impaired and blind people. “Sighted people can also stumble upon it at night,” says Groenewold. The association wants fixed parking spaces, preferably on the street. “If they have to stand on sidewalks, it is only in defined areas that are tactile and visually rich in contrast,” says the expert. However, this is only moderately attractive for e-scooter companies, as this limits availability.

 

Voi partially outsources responsibility

 

Voi assured Business Insider that the company takes safety on the sidewalk very seriously. The Swedish company will be represented on German roads in June 2019 with its e-scooter offer. Today, she is active in twelve cities with a five-digit number of scooters. The problem with fleet management: Voi has outsourced control of the scooters to a large extent, as usual in the industry. The company offers the platform, the e-scooters and some local contacts. The actual work on the road, namely collecting, charging and distributing the scooters, is done by subcontractors.

According to Voi, it checks via digital tracking whether the scooters are parked correctly. Local Voi employees would instruct the external service providers and occasionally also check them on the road. They are in close contact with the subcontractors. What doesn’t seem to fit: Voi’s operations manager for Bremen lives and works in Berlin, 400 kilometers away. From lawyer Hiby’s point of view, the company deliberately goes at maximum distance: “Voi operates a purely virtual business from Sweden without tangible liability substrates.”

 

The current permit for Voi’s 500 e-scooters in Bremen expires at the end of November. The city is negotiating the conditions for next year with Voi these days. It is clear so far that the pavement width will be increased from 1.50 to 1.80 meters and that the company will have to react much faster in the future – probably within six instead of 24 hours – to incorrectly parked e-scooters. The Senate for Home Affairs said that Bremen is pushing e-scooter companies to solid storage spaces for a while longer.

 

Klaus Bopp, who is still struggling with the consequences of the accident, is still waiting for a personal apology today. He wants the e-scooters to no longer be allowed to stand and lie anywhere. “The project was simply not thought through to the end,” he says. Because he doesn’t want to relive the seconds of the fall. At that moment, I just felt helpless and powerless, because apparently nobody cares that the e-scooters are a traffic obstacle.

 

 

E-Scooter riders have little, if any, protection in case of injury or accident

 

ABC 7 – January 4th, 2021

Washington, USA

 

Originally posted at: https://wjla.com/features/i-team/e-scooter-riders-have-no-liability-insurance-protection-from-scooter-companies

 

If you haven’t ridden an e-scooter, chances are you’ve dodged one coming at you on the sidewalk or skirted one laying in the street.

 

The obvious hazards are well-documented, but we discovered one that could impact you even if you never step foot on an e-scooter.

 

”All of a sudden somebody in front of me jumps and screams ‘Whoa!’ and the scooter is, like, coming right at me,” said Jill Jefferson, whose life profoundly changed while walking down a D.C. sidewalk on her way to a meeting.

 

A woman on an e-scooter hit Jefferson with such force she flew into the air.

“I just thought, ‘Don’t let my head hit, don’t let my head hit first, don’t let my head hit first’,” said Jefferson.

 

The full weight of Jefferson’s body dropped to the concrete, leaving her with a broken back and traumatic brain injury.

 

Eighteen months later, the former government consultant is still recovering.

“It’s hard for me to bend down, or getting right and left mixed up,” said Jefferson. “I can’t read easily. I mean, I can read words, but my eyes get blurry or I can’t understand stuff.”

 

What happened to Jill Jefferson is not a one-off.

 

Rutgers University found facial and head injuries from e-scooters have tripled in the past decade.

 

The Henry Ford Health System reports that of the 92,353 scooter injuries treated in emergency rooms, nearly 28% were head and neck injuries.

And recently the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that most injuries happen on sidewalks.

 

While you may not be surprised by the accidents or even the injuries, given that there are no uniform laws about helmets or where e-scooters can operate, chances are you have no idea how unprotected you are if you are injured by, or on, an e-scooter.

 

“There’s no insurance to cover them,” said personal injury attorney Allan M. Siegel. “Certainly no insurance provided by the e-scooter company.”

 

He says it boils down to this: If you stumble over an e-scooter on the sidewalk and get hurt, are hit by one, or are hurt yourself on one, unless you can prove the scooter company was negligent, you would have no insurance protection through the scooter company.

 

And if you’re riding and hurt someone else, it’s unlikely your personal insurance would cover any of it, leaving all costs coming out of your pocket.

 

Siegel says all automobile ride shares must carry liability insurance in case the driver injures someone, and e-scooters — some of which can reach 30 miles per hour — should be no different.

 

“I think it is the responsibility of the e-scooter companies if they want to operate in the city,” said Siegel. “I think the council should make laws that say if you want operate in our cities you’re going to have liability coverage.”

 

Recently, the D.C. city council passed a bill that provides scooter users the same protection as cyclists, pedestrians, and other “vulnerable users.” A notion that was originally opposed by The Trial Lawyers of Washington, D.C. because the District had not defined or limited the way e-scooters could be used on DC streets and sidewalks.

 

In late October, however, the D.C. Council approved legislation for additional regulation of e-scooters that includes more rules for their use in the city and a requirement that they can be locked to racks or poles. That move gained the Council the support of the Association to classify e-scooter riders among “vulnerable users.” The chair of the Trial Lawyers Association of DC recently explained “vulnerable users” in an op-ed you can view here.

In mid-December D.C.’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee met and Jill Jefferson testified about her ordeal. Jefferson says the committee is considering additional protections for pedestrians in the case of being struck by an e-scooter.

 

Because Jill Jefferson was injured while walking to a work meeting, some of her medical bills were paid through worker’s comp. But the larger issues of regulating where e-scooters can operate and making sure the companies provide insurance to riders and those injured by them, is something she says she’ll fight for until it happens.

 

“Municipalities have the responsibility for protecting the health and safety and the general welfare of the public,” said Jefferson. “And that means to be able to walk freely in our nation’s capital without fear of getting mowed down by a random e-scooter.”

There’s a significant variation in state laws when it comes to e-scooters, including where they can be ridden. For example, Fairfax, Virginia allows the use of e-scooters on sidewalks but they cannot be operated above 10 miles per hour. In Arlington, Virginia, if a protected bike lane is available, the e-scooter cannot be used on the sidewalk. D.C. considers e-scooters “personal mobility devices” and therefore not subject to helmet laws, while other jurisdictions regulate them like bicycles.

 

In Maryland, e-scooters are not regulated by the state. Certain localities, including Baltimore City, have rules and restrictions for e-scooter companies. A 2019 law passed by Maryland’s General Assembly makes e-scooters subject to the same rules of the road as bicycles.

 

We reached out to six major e-scooter operators, all operating in the DMV, to talk to about these issues. Only one responded but did so only on the condition that we not name their company or attribute any information they provided to the company, rendering the information essentially useless.

 

As for Jefferson, she says she wants to do what she can to prevent another person from being injured. She’s working on putting together an e-scooter safety coalition. She’s already been asked to speak to the Virginia Association of Zoning Officials on the subject. Jefferson never got to speak to the person who hit her. All she knows is that the woman was visiting from another country. She made this video in the hopes of reaching the woman and of helping herself heal in all ways. For more information on scooter ordinances you can email: scootersafetycoalition@gmail.com

 

 

Bronx man dies after falling off e-scooter hitting head on ground

 

New York Post – November 18th, 2021

New York City, USA

 

Originally posted at: https://nypost.com/2021/11/18/nyc-man-marvin-campbell-dies-after-falling-off-e-scooter-hitting-head-on-ground/

 

A Bronx man died after losing control of his electric scooter last month and slamming his head on the ground, cops said.

 

Marvin Campbell, 45, was riding a Cycleboard Rover Scooter on Bronx Park East near Waring Avenue in Allerton on the evening of Oct. 27 when he fell off, according to police.

 

The Wakefield man was taken to Jacobi Hospital where he died last week, according to the NYPD.

 

Campbell was not wearing a helmet, cops said.

 

Helmets are not required for e-scooter riders 18 and older, but are “highly recommended,” according to the city’s Department of Transportation.

 

 

 

Man seriously hurt in Clifton e-scooter crash

 

BBC News – November 23rd, 2021

Nottingham, UK

 

Originally posted at: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-59379996

 

A man has been seriously hurt in a crash involving a vehicle and an e-scooter, police have said.

 

The man was taken to hospital following the collision at about 14:00 GMT on the A453 in Clifton, Nottingham.

 

The road was closed in both directions between Farnborough Road and Sunninghill Drive. One lane inbound has now reopened.

 

Nottinghamshire Police said officers remain at the scene as inquiries into the crash continue.

 

All outbound lanes are expected to remain closed for some time, the force added.

Motorists have been warned to expect delays and advised to use alternative routes.

Case investigator Sophie Law added: “We would like to thank people for their patience while we have the road closed.”

 

Anyone with any information or dashcam footage has been urged to come forward.

 

 

Moment passengers evacuated as e-scooter ‘explodes’ at London Tube station

 

Metro – November 5th, 2021

London, UK

 

Originally posted at: https://metro.co.uk/2021/11/05/moment-passengers-evacuated-as-e-scooter-explodes-at-parsons-green-15551238/

 

Passengers fled as smoke billowed down the platform at Parsons Green station on Monday evening after the lithium battery in the scooter exploded.

 

The incident happened in the front carriage of a District Line train at around 8pm. The flaming scooter was dragged onto the platform as it continued to burn.

 

In footage of the drama, people evacuating the train can be heard coughing and spluttering on the platform.

 

The e-scooter fire is the second of its kind reported in the capital in less than a month.

 

On October 26, firefighters were called to Stanmore station after the lithium battery of an e-scooter being held in lost property burst into flames.

 

E-scooters are currently allowed to be carried on the tube network but following the recent fires union bosses are calling for them to be banned.

 

TSSA organising director Lorraine Ward told the Evening Standard: ‘Without doubt the incident at Parsons Green raises very serious concerns.

 

‘It’s becoming all too clear that e-scooters pose a significant threat to the travelling public, our members and all workers at TfL.

 

‘There should be an immediate halt to transporting them on all TfL services until more research into these batteries has been carried out.

 

‘I’m therefore urging TfL to fully enforce the already existing ban on the use of e-scooters.

 

‘Indeed, a further ban across the wider travel network should be considered by the Secretary of State for Transport.’

 

Calling for an investigation into what caused the fires at Parsons Green and Stanmore, Ms Ward said: ‘Safety on our transport network will always be our union’s number one priority, there can be no compromises on that.’

 

A TfL spokesperson said: ‘We completely understand how worrying it was for our customers and staff when an e-scooter caught alight on a train.

‘Emergency services attended Parsons Green station and the e-scooter was removed at the first opportunity.

 

‘While incidents like this are very rare, we take safety on the network extremely seriously and are undertaking a full review, which includes liaising with the London Fire Brigade.

 

It is forbidden to ride e-scooters at stations or on trains, and failure to comply with this by-law is a criminal offence.

 

‘E-scooters may currently be carried but must be folded for the entirety of the journey.’

 

 

 

Oxford e-scooter crash involving pushchair leaves man and child injured

 

Oxfordshire Live – November 22nd, 2021

Oxfordshire, UK

 

Originally posted at: https://www.oxfordshirelive.co.uk/news/oxfordshire-news/oxford-e-scooter-crash-involving-6241178

 

An e-scooter has collided with a pedestrian and a pushchair on a foot path in Oxford.

The e-scooter’s rider failed to stop after hitting the pedestrian, a man in his forties and the pushchair, that a child was sat in.

 

The incident took place on the foot path next to Brookfield Crescent, with the pedestrian and child heading towards Headley Way.

 

Read more: British Transport Police investigate Oxfordshire train station upskirting incident

 

Thames Valley Police is now appealing to any witnesses to the collision – which took place between 8.30am and 8.40am on Sunday, November 21.

Both the man and the child suffered minor injuries, but did not require hospital treatment.

 

The person riding the e-scooter is described as a young male, aged in his early to late teens, wearing dark clothing.

He was riding an orange VOI e-scooter.

 

Currently, a council trial involving VOI e-scooters is running in Oxford for 14 months, although it’s not clear if the one used in the crash was a rented one or privately owned.

 

Investigating officer, PC Ruan Brink, based at Abingdon police station, said: “I am appealing for witnesses to this incident to please come forward.

 

“I’d also ask any motorists who have dash-cams and were in the local area around the time that this happened to please check any footage in case it may have captured something that could assist the investigation.

 

“Anyone with information can contact police by calling 101 or making a report online, quoting reference 43210526639.

 

“Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous, you can make a report to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website.”

 

 

 

Dental injuries on the rise thanks to e-scooter use: study by U of A prof

 

Global News – September 22, 2021

Calgary

 

Originally posted at:https://globalnews.ca/news/7351143/dental-injuries-e-scooter-e-bike-alberta-study/

 

After running a study on the frequency and severity of dental and maxillofacial injuries associated with electric-powered bikes and scooters, a University of Alberta professor wants to see more education and possibly even more enforcement and legislation.

 

Dr. Liran Levin, a professor of periodontology at the School of Dentistry, and the president-elect of the International Association of Dental Traumatology, led a study. It was based on e-scooter- and e-bike-related injuries in Israel between 2014 and 2019.

 

Out of 3,686 hospital admissions from electric bikes and scooter injuries, 378 (10.3 per cent) were specific to oral and maxillofacial injuries.

 

“That should be alarming. It’s a constant rise, a constant increase in the numbers . . . We’re talking about not just simple injuries — even if you need a few stitches, you won’t be included in this study unless you were admitted to the hospital and stayed there for more than 24 hours.

 

“We saw that about 10 per cent of those injuries are involving the oral cavity . . . either the soft tissue or teeth or the jaw or bones that are in the oral area,” Levin said.

 

While similar data on this topic is not available in Canada, Levin said parallels can be drawn and municipalities can take a proactive approach to education and prevention.

 

“I think that [Israel] started a little earlier with the use of it so I think we can look at that as a forecast of what we’re going to experience,” Levin said.

 

“I think the main message is to be proactive and start with education and maybe better enforcement of prevention methods like helmets, maybe even mouth guards. It seems like a very simple and innocent tool — everyone can take it and have fun — but it’s not as innocent as it looks.”

 

Another important finding? E-bike and e-scooter injuries were being reported in both riders and pedestrians.

 

“Most of the pedestrians were either kids below the age of 15 or elderly, which probably means they’re more prone to be hurt in a more severe way and thus require hospitalization,” Levin said.

 

He also compared the injury rate of e-bikes and e-scooters to that of traditional bicycles.

 

“We see a lot more injuries in electronic bikes and scooters than we’re seeing in regular bicycles.

 

“The majority of those, surprisingly, do not involve other vehicles; it’s mainly the scooters with pedestrians or with something in the surroundings . . . There were still accidents with cars but let’s say about 60 per cent of them were without the involvement of another vehicle.”

 

Dr. Eddy Lang, an associate professor at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, spoke with Global News in August 2019 about the number of hospital visits connected to e-scooters.

 

For a study, his team combed through the electronic health record used in Calgary to see when the word “scooter” was used by patients as they described to how they were injured.

 

By August 2019, some 60 patients had visited Calgary emergency rooms with e-scooter-related injuries. Of those, most were fractures but some were head injuries.

 

Lang said, because of riders’ “precarious vertical position, people are falling off of these and as a result, we’re seeing mostly upper extremity injuries – people are hurting their wrists and elbows.”

 

The maximum speed for the vehicles is 20 km/h and it’s illegal to use them while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Electric Scooters Continue to Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors, Kids and Others in Ontario – Register to Take Part in CNIB’s November 18, 2021 Virtual Town Hall on the Problems E-Scooters Create for People with Disabilities Living in or Visiting Ottawa

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Electric Scooters Continue to Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors, Kids and Others in Ontario – Register to Take Part in CNIB’s November 18, 2021 Virtual Town Hall on the Problems E-Scooters Create for People with Disabilities Living in or Visiting Ottawa

 

November 15, 2021

 

            SUMMARY

 

In Ontario, people with disabilities, seniors, children and others continue to be endangered by the silent menace of uninsured, unlicensed, untrained joy-riders racing at upwards of 20 kilometers per hour on electric-scooters, on sidewalks, roads park paths, and other public places. The e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists are continuing their feeding frenzy around Ontario, at the doors of municipal council members and municipal public officials.

 

The AODA Alliance along with other advocates for disabilities, seniors and others are continuing our grassroots efforts to get these politicians and public officials to stand up to the corporate lobbyists, and to stand up for people with disabilities. All our efforts are being coordinated by an informal group of disability organizations and individual advocates who have been conducting an excellent joint effort on this issue. Here’s the latest news on this front.

 

1. Ottawa—An Especially Bad Danger Zone for People with Disabilities, Seniors, Children and Others

 

The City of Ottawa is continuing to be the most obviously under the thumbs of the e-scooter corporate lobbyists. Ottawa is now running its second “pilot project” with e-scooters. It has demonstrably created real dangers for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. Unsurprisingly, e-scooters are being ridden on sidewalks, even though that is not supposed to be allowed. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s office confirmed to the AODA Alliance during the 2020 summer, before Ottawa City Council under his leadership approved this e-scooter human experiment, that Ottawa had not budgeted any new funds for e-scooter law enforcement.

 

When this dangerous pilot project comes to an end this month, people with disabilities need Ottawa City Council not to extend it.

 

CNIB is hosting a virtual Town Hall on the Ottawa experience with e-scooters from 4:30 to 6 pm EST, on November 18, 2021. We set out the full announcement of that event, below. We encourage you to register to attend it, by simply writing Kate Riccomini@cnib.ca

 

A local Ottawa news report, the Capital Current, ran an article on November 10, 2021, explaining how Ottawa’s e-scooter “pilot” has represented a serious hardship for people with disabilities. We set that article out below.

 

The most thorough study of e-scooters and the dangers they pose was conducted this year and last year by Toronto city staff. We at the AODA Alliance have now sent the Ottawa city staff the excellent reports prepared by Toronto city staff on e-scooters, which have been available online for months. It is troubling that it was necessary for us to send those reports to Ottawa city staff responsible for the e-scooters project.

 

People with disabilities need the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee to now hold a public meeting and invite public input on this issue, and to strongly call for Ottawa not to allow e-scooters in public places. The Accessibility Advisory Committees in Toronto, Mississauga and London each passed strong motions recommending against e-scooters. The Ottawa accessibility should stand up for people with disabilities, and similarly recommend that Ottawa restore the ban on e-scooters. The AODA Alliance has asked the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee for a chance to present to it, which easily can be done virtually.

 

2. Toronto City Council Said No to E-Scooters But They Are Still All Over the City, With No Law Enforcement in Sight

 

Last spring, it was a huge victory for people with disabilities, seniors and others when the Toronto City Council unanimously voted not to allow e-scooters to be ridden in public places, whether rented e-scooters or an e-scooter that a rider privately owns. However, there are now many e-scooters being illegally ridden on Toronto streets, sidewalks, and public paths. There is absolutely no visible law enforcement. We have seen advertisements by those openly selling e-scooters, even though it is illegal to ride them in such public places.

 

The City of Toronto and other municipalities must vigorously enforce the ban on e-scooters, and must publicize the fact that it is illegal to ride them in public.

 

We need the Ontario Government to now give municipalities much better tools and rules for effectively enforcing such bans.

 

3. Will the City of Hamilton Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors, Children by Allowing E-Scooters?

 

The City of Hamilton is apparently giving in to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists. It now plans to hold an e-scooter pilot next year. However, it is still not too late to get Hamilton to call that off.

 

AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky spoke to Hamilton’s Accessibility Advisory Committee on November 4, 2021. He gave that Committee tactical and strategic ideas on how it could help in efforts to get Hamilton to back down on those dangerous plans. We remain eager to help them in any way we can.

 

4. London Ontario Has Not Yet Decided Whether to Give In to the E-Scooter Corporate Lobbyists

 

The City of London’s staff are now investigating the e-scooters issue. To our knowledge, London city staff have not yet rendered a report to London City Council. We and other disability advocates have spoken to London’s Civic Works Committee and a city staff official working on this issue to raise our concerns, backed by the London Accessibility Advisory Committee’s opposition to e-scooters.

5. In Order to Look Like they are Responding to Disability Dangers Posed by E-Scooters, the E-Scooter Rental Companies are Claiming to Explore Measures that In Truth Won’t Solve the Problem

 

A few ineffective proposals are being considered by Ottawa city staff to respond to e-scooter dangers created for people with disabilities, in evident conjunction with some of the e-scooter rental companies.

 

The most obviously laughable option is for the e-scooter rental companies to put a braille label of some sort on their e-scooter. This is meant to help a blind person report to the City if an e-scooter is improperly used.

 

This will of course be useless for a blind person to identify an e-scooter that is improperly being ridden on the sidewalk. A blind person cannot be expected to run after the e-scooter, catch up to it, and reach out a hand to try to read the braille somewhere on it, while the e-scooter is racing forward at upwards of 20 KPH.

 

The only possible use of this braille could be in the case that the e-scooter is improperly left lying on the sidewalk, as too often happens in communities that allow rental e-scooters. Picture a blind person walking down a public sidewalk, where e-scooters are not supposed to be ridden or left lying around. The blind person unexpectedly finds it, possibly tripping over it. The e-scooter corporate lobbyists or city staff are imagining that the blind person will then walk or crawl over to the e-scooter, lying on the sidewalk, and start to feel all over it, somehow already knowing it is an e-scooter, and expecting it to have a braille label on it.

 

There are so many reasons why this is absurd. Many blind people don’t read braille. Of the minority of blind people who do read braille, why would any of them expect that the object over which they just tripped will have a braille label of some sort on it? None should reasonably be expected to engage in such public groping of an object lying on the ground, in hopes that a braille label can be found somewhere on it.

 

All of this is meant to enable the blind person to call in a complaint, either to the e-scooter company or the City. This all leaves the profit-making to the e-scooter companies, while shifting the burden to grope the e-scooter and then lodge complaints to blind people, who, after all, simply want to be able to safely walk on the sidewalk.

 

The second distraction that some e-scooter companies are promoting is to add some sort of audible beeping sound to the e-scooter, in order to warn people that one is coming. From the feedback we have received from some people with disabilities who took part in a demonstration of these that the Ottawa city staff coordinated with the e-scooter companies, the beeping is not loud enough to be heard if there is nearby construction, a lawn mower, or a loud truck driving by. Moreover, we have not heard any proposals that the e-scooter continue to emit a loud beep while it is parked and unaccompanied, to warn people of them lying on the sidewalk.

 

Finally, in an effort to spawn enthusiasm about futuristic technology, some e-scooter companies talk about using “geo-fencing.” Each e-scooter would have a GPS tracker on it, that won’t allow the e-scooter to ride on a sidewalk. Of course, anyone who uses a GPS on their smart phone or in their car knows only too well that GPSs are not so accurate as to reliably know when an e-scooter is on a sidewalk, and not the adjacent road.

 

It is important for such side-shows not to distract from the bottom line here. E-scooters should not be allowed in public places. Neither the Ford Government nor any city council should be allowing the creation of such new disability barriers. This is especially so when Ontario only has a little over three years to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires.

 

6. Looking Ahead towards the 2022 Provincial and Municipal Elections

 

Ultimately, what Ontarians with disabilities need is for the Ford Government to now repeal its regulation that allows municipalities to permit e-scooters in public places. In the 2022 provincial election, we will ask all political parties to commit to do so, if the Ford Government has not done so by then.

 

We also need all municipal council members to stand up for people with disabilities and to oppose electric scooters in their communities. In next fall’s Ontario municipal elections, we will call on voters to hold their city council members to account on this issue. Stay tuned!

 

For more information on our campaign against e-scooters, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

            MORE DETAILS

 

 Capital Current November 10, 2021

 

Originally posted at https://capitalcurrent.ca/sidewalk-snafus-accessibility-issues-are-dogging-the-e-scooter-pilot-program-in-ottawa/

 

Sidewalk snafus: Accessibility issues are dogging the e-scooter pilot program in Ottawa

By Sarah Malina,

 

The impact of e-scooters on sidewalk accessibility has been a source of frustration for Ottawa residents during the city’s 2021 e-scooter pilot program.

 

People have been concerned about the increase in sidewalk obstructions caused by e-scooter users.

 

“It’s a maze, it literally is,” said Ryan Lythall, who uses a wheelchair.

 

Lythall said he has had his path on a sidewalk impeded by e-scooters many times during the pilot program. This past summer, for example, he had a run-in with two teens riding on an e-scooter down the sidewalk.

“They pulled over to try to give me room, but I ran into a pole. There was simply no room for              me to get by,” he said.

 

Lythall says people with mobility concerns (such as physical disabilities and visual impairments) can have a harder time navigating sidewalks at the best of times and e-scooters bring an increased risk of collisions and obstruction when ridden or misparked on sidewalks.

 

People have shared their concerns on social media. Twitter has been full of photos of misparked scooters blocking sidewalks and expressions of frustration about having to move scooters out of the way — something that people with disabilities or limited mobility, like Lythall, might not be able to do on their own.

The City of Ottawa’s 2021 e-scooter pilot program, has 1,200 machines deployed across the city by rental companies Bird Canada, Neuron, and Lime until Nov. 30. As of Oct. 31, the city reported that the 2021 pilot season had 123,327 riders who had taken 452,808 trips.

 

The city promised in its announcement of the pilot that there would be a focus on reducing sidewalk riding and improper parking. Willem Klumpenhouwer, a transportation researcher and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, said that pilot programs often see issues such as these.

 

“There’s a lot of testing out what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully, the City has access to the      data, has access to certain measures of how these things are doing and then can react to that,             and make sure companies are trying to find ways to improve.”

 

Austin Spademan, the assistant general manager at Bird Canada, says the data the company collects on e-scooter rides in the city suggests that Twitter complaints don’t represent the reality on the ground.

 

“Twitter complaints don’t seem to align with reality, because as a percentage of total rides, the   compliance is exceptionally high right now. It’s not perfect, I totally agree. It’s not perfect, but         we’re at like 99 per cent appropriate parking compliance by riders.”

 

A press release that Neuron Mobility shared with Capital Current on Oct. 21, included data from a recent rider survey the firm conducted in Ottawa. According to the findings of the survey, 82 per cent of riders believe e-scooters have had a positive impact in the community. It should be noted that this finding is specific to the e-scooter riders and not the general Ottawa community. No data was shared on misparked scooters. Spademan said there are kinks to work out. E-scooters are a new technology in Ottawa. He said that Bird is working directly with people with disabilities to whom these accessibility concerns directly apply. Bird Canada has been working with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Canadian Council for the Blind. Lythall, among others, was an early stakeholder consulted by Spademan and Bird Canada.

 

“Those are the people I’m listening to,” said Spademan.

 

The city, which shares the right way to park an e-scooter on social media, says proper e-scooter parking s in what is called the sidewalk furniture zone, which is “the area closest to the curb in line with trees, benches and bike racks and out of the way of pedestrian travel.” But, not all city sidewalks have such zones. Ottawa has also created the “Electric Kick-Scooter Bylaw” to regulate and enforce proper scooter use. Offenders are liable for a substantial fine.

 

Bird Canada has set up an email created initially for people with disabilities based on feedback from the Canadian Council for the Blind (311_ottawa@birdcanada.co).

 

Messages go directly to the phones of Spademan and his operations team, allowing them to get to a site faster to move misparked e-scooters.

 

Neuron Mobility and Bird Canada are testing e-scooters with noise-emission technology to better alert pedestrians, particularly those with vision impairments, that an e-scooter is approaching. Neuron Mobility has also introduced braille identifiers and raised lettering on their e-scooters to help vision-impaired pedestrians to identify and report misparked e-scooters, and Bird Canada is also piloting a new model of e-scooters would prevent operation of the devices on sidewalks.

 

“Since we’ve implemented this program at Lansdowne, [we’ve had] zero cases of a scooter                being parked outside of the digital coral,” said Spademan.

 

Gwen McGuire, Neuron Mobility’s senior communications leader, said Neuron will be making an “exciting safety-focused innovation announcement” in a couple weeks. That timing is aligned with the end of the 2021 e-scooter pilot, which is set to finish at the end of the month.

 

Lime did not respond to Capital Current’s inquiry on the measures they are taking to alleviate sidewalk accessibility issues.

 

Klumpenhouwer thinks that the root of the issue lies more so in Ottawa’s lack of infrastructure for active transportation, such as parking options and bike lanes.

 

My worry is that people will label the whole project as a big mistake when a lot of the problems     that we’re seeing with scooters are because there’s not the right kind of infrastructure.”

 

Klumpenhouwer said he thinks if the proper infrastructure is provided people will use it, decreasing the obstructions to sidewalks and improve accessibility for people with disabilities and limited mobility.

 

“People are more inclined to park in a spot if it’s available and convenient. … So I think if you         provide a little more of the infrastructure people will start to park them in better spots.”

 

Spademan, who is also a biker, agrees better infrastructure is necessary, and suggests that e-scooters are a good business case for more bike lanes in the city.

 

“Being in this job, I can actually make compelling data-driven arguments to the city. … We’ve              now got a bunch of new people in the active mobility space and we’ve got the data to back it up     to be like, ‘hey, you need a bike lane right here, or you need e-scooter parking on this street.”

 

Despite this, Lythall said he believes there are still too many irresponsible users for the e-scooter initiative to be worthwhile. He wants the city to end the program, as is the case in Toronto.

 

 CNIB Online Announcement of Its November 18, 2021 Town Hall on Electric Scooters

 

Originally posted at https://cnib.ca/en/event/ottawa-e-scooter-experience-virtual-town-hall?region=on

 

The City of Ottawa is currently wrapping up the second year of its e-scooter pilot and we want to hear your thoughts.

 

Have you had encounters, good or bad, with e-scooters in your neighbourhood? Have you run into e-scooters in your travels to Ottawa? The second year of Ottawa’s e-scooter pilot is wrapping up, and we want to hear from you. You are invited to share your e-scooter experiences with us at a virtual Townhall meeting on November 18. We will be inviting City of Ottawa staff to hear your feedback as well, and incorporating it into a report to the City about e-scooters.

 

Date: Thursday, November 18

Time: 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Location: Online or via telephone using Zoom.

Registration is required. To register, contact Kate Riccomini@cnib.ca Program Lead, Advocacy & Accessible Community Engagement at Kate.Riccomini@cnib.ca

 

1,000 Days of Inaction by the Ford Government on the David Onley Report on Accessibility for People with Disabilities is Marked in AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s Guest Column in the Toronto Star’s Metroland Newspapers

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

1,000 Days of Inaction by the Ford Government on the David Onley Report on Accessibility for People with Disabilities is Marked in AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s Guest Column in the Toronto Star’s Metroland Newspapers

 

October 25, 2021

 

This Wednesday, October 27, 2021 will mark a deeply-disturbing 1,000 days since the Doug Ford Government received the withering report by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley, who conducted a Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In a guest column by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, appearing this week in the Toronto Star’s Metroland local newspapers, set out below, the Ford Government’s 1,000 days of inaction on that report is described. The Ford Government only has 1,165 days until the start of 2025, the deadline that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act sets for the Ontario Government to lead this province to become accessible to people with disabilities.

 

The AODA Alliance March 8, 2019 news release, issued after the Government made the Onley Report public, at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/news-release-ground-breaking-report-by-former-ontario-lieutenant-governor-david-onley-tabled-in-the-legislature-yesterday-blasts-poor-provincial-government-implementation-and-enforcement-of-ontario/

 

Toronto Star Website and Metroland newspapers October 22, 2021

 

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/local-toronto-scarborough/opinion/2021/10/22/doug-ford-must-fix-his-legacy-on-disability-issues.html

 

SCARBOROUGH MIRROR

 

OPINION

 

Doug Ford must fix his legacy on disability issues

By David Lepofsky

David Lepofsky is a lawyer and advocate for people with disabilities in Toronto.

 

For 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities, Doug Ford’s record is abysmal. One thousand days ago, Ford received a blistering report from a government-appointed independent review of the implementation of Ontario’s Disabilities Act, by former lieutenant-governor David Onley. That 2005 law requires the government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

 

Onley reported that progress on accessibility is “glacial.” Ontarians with disabilities still confront a myriad of “soul-crushing barriers.” For them, Ontario is not a place of opportunity. The 2025 accessibility goal is nowhere in sight.

 

Ford’s accessibility minister said Onley did a “marvellous job.” Yet Ford still has no comprehensive action plan to implement Onley’s recommendations.

 

Ford concealed expert recommendations for improving Ontario’s Employment Accessibility Standard for two years in contravention of Ontario’s Disabilities Act. He hasn’t assisted people with disabilities suffering unemployment and/or poverty.

 

Ford feebly enforced the Disabilities Act against violators. He’s enacted no new accessibility standards that people with disabilities and obligated organizations need.

 

The result? Creation of new buildings and other provincially-funded infrastructure, without ensuring that they are accessible. Half a billion dollars is being spent on new school buildings and additions, without ensuring that they are accessible to students, staff and parents with disabilities. Using public money to create new disability barriers is irresponsible.

 

Ford can’t duck, pleading COVID. He mostly ignored our calls to ensure that pandemic emergency plans address people with disabilities’ urgent needs. We’re disproportionately prone to get COVID-19 and to suffer its worst symptoms. Long-term-care residents with disabilities are a major proportion of those whom COVID-19 killed.

 

Distance learning wasn’t designed to accommodate many students with disabilities. It left many behind. Ford left it to 72 school boards to figure how to fix that. Ford’s TV Ontario offers distance learning resources with serious accessibility problems. Ford’s solution? Give TVO more responsibility for distance learning!

 

Last December, Ford received strong recommendations on how to remove disability barriers from health-care services — urgent during COVID. The law required Ford to publicly post them “upon receiving” them. Instead, he concealed them for months, during COVID’s worst phase.

 

The vaccination program and vaccine passport have too many disability barriers. On Ford’s watch, hospitals trained their doctors to deploy a blatantly disability-discriminatory secret protocol for rationing or triaging life-saving critical care, if overrun with COVID-19 cases. His government won’t answer our pleas on this.

 

Things got worse under Ford. His hurtful bungling of the plight of kids with autism is legendary. As well, in Ford’s Ontario, people with disabilities, seniors and others are now in danger of serious injuries by joyriders on electric scooters.

 

We non-partisan disability advocates are eager to meet with any leaders to offer our help. Unlike the last two Ontario premiers, Ford has refused to meet or talk with us. His accessibility minister holds news events, pledging that Ontario would lead by example on accessibility. The result was 1,000 days of inaction.

 

The Onley report urged the premier to make disability accessibility a priority. It’s not too late. Premier Ford, let’s talk!

 

David Lepofsky is chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and visiting professor, Osgoode Hall Law School.

 

Disability Advocates Call on Ford Government Not to Endanger People with Disabilities and Others By Allowing Robots on Public Sidewalks

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Disability Advocates Call on Ford Government Not to Endanger People with Disabilities and Others By Allowing Robots on Public Sidewalks

 

October 20, 2021

 

            SUMMARY

 

Here we go again! The Ford Government is proposing to create even more new barriers against people with disabilities, contrary to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

 

Believe it or not, the Ford Government is now considering allowing the use of robots on public sidewalks. These could, for example, be used to deliver packages or shovel snow.

 

This threatens to create serious new disability barriers. These robots would present a danger to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. We oppose them. So should you!

 

Below we set out an 8-page brief that we today sent to the Ford Government. It calls for robots to be banned from public and quasi-public places. We urge you to write the Ford Government. Support our strong opposition to robots on public sidewalks and other public places. Before the November 15, 2021 deadline we need as many individuals and community organizations to support us as possible. Write the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario by visiting its consultation web page at https://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view_posting.jsp;jsessionid=Nq4_XYOtWlMmWONQbeqo87q?language=en&postingId=39087

 

You can also send feedback via an email to registryfeedback@ontario.ca and send your feedback directly to the public servant with a role in this consultation, by writing janet.c.lee@ontario.ca

 

The Government is considering giving each municipality the option to allow robots. That would inflict on vulnerable Ontarians with disabilities the undue hardship of having to campaign in one municipality after the next, to protect our safety and accessibility. As our brief explains, the Ford Government did the same thing two years ago with electric scooters. We have suffered the hardship ever since, trying to battle corporate lobbyists who have pressured city councils to allow e-scooters, despite their serious proven danger to public safety and disability accessibility.

 

At the end of our 8-page brief, we set out the slide deck that the Ford Government presented at its October 18, 2021 virtual public consultation meeting on this topic. That slide deck states that it is confidential. We however never agreed to any such restrictions. If you read that slide deck, you’ll see there are no state secrets in it whatsoever!

 

As this is going on, there have now been a breath-taking 993 days since the Ford Government received the blistering Independent Review report by David Onley on the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. That report concluded that Ontario is still full of “soul-crushing” barriers facing people with disability people with disabilities, and that progress towards becoming accessible has taken place at a “glacial” pace. The Ford Government has still not made public a comprehensive plan to implement that report’s findings and recommendations. The Government has staged some media events with the Accessibility Minister to make announcements, but little if anything new was ever announced.

 

There are just a little over three years till 2025. Yet Ontario lags far behind the goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. The Ford Government has announced no plan to get on schedule for that deadline.

 

Premier Ford, why don’t you leave these robots for the science fiction books, movies and TV shows where they belong, and keep them off our sidewalks!

 

Don’t Allow Robots on Public Sidewalks and In Other Public and Quasi- Public Places in Ontario

 

A Brief by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario

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

 

October 20, 2021

 

 

 1. The Bottom Line

 

This is the AODA Alliance’s written submission to the consultation by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation on the possibility of allowing robots, including autonomous robots, to be used in public and quasi-public spaces, e.g. to deliver packages and shovel snow. We Are strongly opposed to this. This cannot be solved by regulatory standards. Such robots must be banned from public or quasi-public places, with strong penalties that are effectively enforced. This ban should be enacted in provincial legislation, whose enactment is preceded by public hearings and  debates in the Legislature. The dangers that these robots pose cannot be effectively averted or minimized by permitting them in public places with regulations setting standards over their use or operations.

 

This brief does not take a position on the use of robots in private places to which the public is not customarily admitted, such as a factory or farm fields.

 

 

 2. Who Are We?

 

The AODA Alliance is a voluntary non-partisan coalition of individuals and organizations. Our mission is:

“To contribute to the achievement of a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities, by promoting and supporting the timely, effective, and comprehensive implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.”

 

To learn about us, visit: https://www.aodaalliance.org.

 

Our coalition is the successor to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. The ODA Committee advocated more than ten years for the enactment of strong, effective disability accessibility legislation. Our coalition builds on the ODA Committee’s work. We draw our membership from the ODA Committee’s broad grassroots base. To learn about the ODA Committee’s history, visit: http://www.odacommittee.net.

 

We have been widely recognized by the Ontario Government, by all political parties in the Ontario Legislature, within the disability community and by the media, as a key voice leading the non-partisan campaign for accessibility in Ontario. In every provincial election since 2005, parties that made election commitments on accessibility did so in letters to the AODA Alliance.

 

Our efforts and expertise on accessibility for people with disabilities have been recognized in MPPs’ speeches on the floor of the Ontario Legislature, and beyond. Our website and Twitter feed are widely consulted as helpful sources of information on accessibility efforts in Ontario and elsewhere. We have achieved this as an unfunded volunteer community coalition.

 

Beyond our work at the provincial level in Ontario, over the past several years, the AODA Alliance has been active in advocating for strong and effective national accessibility legislation for Canada. Our efforts influenced the development of the Accessible Canada Act. We have been formally and informally consulted by the Federal Government and some federal opposition parties on this issue.

 

The AODA Alliance has also spoken to or been consulted by disability organizations, individuals, and governments from various parts of Canada on disability accessibility issues. We have also been consulted outside Canada on this topic, most particularly, in Israel and New Zealand.

 

 

 

 

3. The Danger

 

The Ontario Government is considering enacting regulations under the Highway Traffic Act to allow robots, whether autonomous or remotely driven, to use sidewalks in Ontario, to deliver products to customers. On October 18, 2021 the AODA Alliance took part in a Government consultation on a Government proposal that had been posted for public comment. Below we set out the text of the Ministry’s slide deck presented at its October 18, 2021 consultation.

 

The AODA Alliance strongly opposes any reform, whether permanent or by pilot project, that would allow autonomous or remotely driven robots to use public sidewalks or other public or quasi-public paths and places, including for such things as the purposes of delivering products to customers or shoveling snow. By “quasi-public places”, we include private property where the public is customarily admitted, such as stores and shopping plazas.

 

For the Government to allow these robots would be to knowingly create a substantial and worrisome new disability barrier impeding people with disabilities in their safe use of public sidewalks and other paths of travel. People with vision loss risk not knowing a robot is coming, or is in their path. They can pose a tripping hazard, or a danger of collision. For people with mobility limitations, including those who use mobility devices such as wheelchairs, they risk becoming a physical barrier in their path of travel, transforming an otherwise accessible route into an inaccessible one. For people with balance issues, they present a danger of losing balance from any inadvertent contact with a robot.

 

These barriers will be unpredictable, an unforeseeable in advance. People with disabilities cannot plan strategies to avoid them, short of simply staying home. These robots, by definition, will be on the move, not remaining permanently in any fixed location.

 

Sidewalks are an important publicly-funded public resource created for pedestrians to safely use. Their use should not be undermined for such things as private companies’ delivery robots.

 

Disability activists in jurisdictions that allow automated delivery robots to roam their sidewalks experience accessibility issues associated with these devices. Emily Ackerman, a PhD student at Pittsburgh University and a wheelchair user, found herself unable to access the curb cut due to an automated delivery robot blocking her way. This forced her to remain on the street as the traffic light turned green. The robot did not understand that it was time for him to cross the street as the pedestrian signal turned green. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-19/why-tech-needs-more-designers-with-disabilities

 

Roads are created as the place for vehicles to travel, including powered vehicles. As it is, public sidewalks and other paths of travel have far too many accessibility barriers. They are becoming increasingly cluttered with street furniture, art, signage, plants and other obstacles. We cannot afford any more barriers being added. These barriers include the lack of accessible curb cuts in too many places, trees, potted plants, sidewalk restaurant eating areas, and other clutter. In residential areas, this also includes weekly residents’ garbage bins awaiting pickup.

These will create a new disability barrier for a wide spectrum of people with disabilities, old and young. For those who have just acquired a disability, they will inflict added hardships. For example, for a senior who is just lost some or all of their vision, they will need to undergo rehabilitation orientation and mobility training on how to get around independently. The added burden of coping with these robots will make that challenge more difficult.

 

As a result of Ontario Government action led in this context by the Premier’s Office and the Ministry of Transportation, this situation has been made even worse in recent months and years. In 2019, the Ontario Government harmfully allowed municipalities to permit electric scooters, over the strong objection of the disability community.

 

The Ford Government acted at the behest of corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies. It knowingly created safety dangers for the public, including for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. This has included creating a danger caused by e-scooters ridden on or parked on sidewalks. It has burdened people with disabilities to have to battle in one city after the next to avert this danger. They have had to battle against well-funded feeding frenzies by the e-scooter rental company corporate lobbyists. The new barriers that e-scooters have created for people with disabilities in Ontario are amply documented at www.aodaalliance.org/e-scooters

 

Making this even worse, during the COVID-19 pandemic, municipalities have understandably permitted restaurants to use some sidewalk space for outdoor public seating areas. Municipalities have not required that these new outdoor seating areas be barrier-free for people with disabilities, and that they not preclude accessible and safe pedestrian travel on the sidewalk to pass by the restaurant, for people with disabilities. This has had the effect of creating even more new barriers, forcing some to have to divert dangerously into the street in the face of oncoming traffic, just to get around a restaurant seating area that occupies the public sidewalk.

 

The marginalizing impact that such COVID-19 measures have on people with disabilities would be compounded by adding an additional layer of barriers to sidewalks in the shape of delivery robots. Haben Girma, an internationally acclaimed disability activist and lawyer, in an essay on accessibility issues created by delivery robots notes that, in the wake of the pandemic, “the last thing we need is cities adopting tech that excludes blind people and endangers pedestrians with mobility disabilities.” https://techcrunch.com/2020/08/11/the-robots-occupying-our-sidewalks/ .

 

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become accessible by 2025. The Government-appointed 2019 Independent Review  of the AODA undertaken by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley found that Ontario is well behind schedule for reaching that goal. There are now just over three years left to get there. Ontario cannot afford to create any new disability barriers, like those that these robots would generate.

 

 

4. Enact Provincial Legislation and Do Not Address the Robots Issue by Mere Regulations Enacted Under the Highway Traffic Act

 

The Ontario Government is proposing to address this issue by enacting regulations under the Highway Traffic Act. We strongly recommend that instead, the Ontario Government should address this issue by introducing and publicly debating strong legislation into the Legislature to comprehensively deal with it. By passing legislation, the Legislature can deal comprehensively with it.

 

Only legislation can set requirements for public property, quasi-public property (such as shopping plazas) and private property. Regulations that the Government is contemplating under the Highway Traffic Act risk being far more limited in scope.

 

We realize that the Government may prefer the option of enacting regulations rather than bringing forward legislation, because Cabinet debates and decides what to do entirely in secret. However, for an issue that threatens public safety and disability accessibility, less secrecy and far more public accountability is required here. A very broad public consultation is needed, far more than the Ministry is now conducting.

 

It will be important for this ban to apply both to public property like sidewalks, and also to quasi-public private property, such as shopping plazas. A robot endangers the public in both such places. Legislation is the best if not the only effective tool for achieving this.

 

 

5. Ontario Government’s Stated Rationale for Wanting to Merely Regulate Robots is Wrong-Headed

 

At its October 18, 2021 consultation meeting, the Government explained why it is proposing to pass regulations that would permit use of these robots, while purporting to merely regulate some aspects of their use. The Government explained that right now there is no law governing these robots. They are being used in various parts of the province. It is a free-for-all. The Highway Traffic Act only gives the Government limited power to regulate them by way of regulations passed by Cabinet. As such, the Government is proposing to set minimum standards for their use where it can, and to give municipalities power to locally regulate them.

 

The fatal flaw in the Government’s reasoning is that it assumes that the only or best way to address this issue is by the Cabinet enacting mere regulations under the Highway Traffic Act. It disregards the option of the Legislature enacting legislation.

 

As noted above, legislation can ban the use of robots in any place, public, quasi-public or private, if the Legislature wishes. It can establish enforcement for that ban, such as the measures proposed in this brief.

 

The Government’s rationale is the same as the similarly erroneous arguments made by the corporate lobbyists for electric scooters. They claim that because people use them illegally, it is preferrable to legalize them and regulate them.

 

If these robots present a danger to the public’s health and accessibility, the proper public response is to ban then with effective enforcement, rather than legalizing them. By comparison, too many people now use dangerous drugs like crack cocaine. Current legal regimes do not prevent this. The solution is not to legalize crack cocaine.

 

 

6. No Way to Effectively Enforce Regulations Permitting Use of Robots in Public and Quasi-Public Places

 

If robots are permitted subject to Highway Traffic Act regulations or local bylaws, enforcing the law will be exceedingly difficult if someone is injured or endangered by a robot. The injured victim won’t know who to sue or prosecute for their injuries. Robots are not people with a legal duty to remain at the scene of an accident.

 

If a person is injured by a robot, and the robot keeps moving, the individual has no capacity to stop it and to try to identify its source. This is all the more so for a person with a disability such as a mobility impairment or vision loss.

 

Even if those barriers are overcome, there is still no way to know who has deployed the robot. A robot might have a company name on it. However, there is no assurance that this company name is accurate.

 

It is no solution to require the company name, if present, to be in braille. It is unreasonable to burden people with disabilities with having to find the robot, and then grope it to find a braille label. Braille labels cannot be read if the robot is moving. The very notion that a person with vision loss should try to chase down a robot in public that has injured or endangered them, with one hand on their white cane and guide dog, and their other hand flailing around to see if there is a braille label to read on the robot, illustrates the absurdity of this entire venture.

 

Moreover, many people with vision loss do not read braille. Most who lose their vision have this happen later in life.

 

The most effective enforcement would be to have a total ban on these robots in public and quasi-public places such as sidewalks, and to authorize their immediate confiscation and disposal. If police or members of the public encounter a robot in forbidden locations like a public sidewalk, they should be able to seize the robot and dispose of it. This would quickly and effectively put an end to the problem.

 

Ironically, under the Government’s proposal, a member of the public, endangered by a robot, risks prosecution for damaging private property if they disable a robot and dispose of it. However, the company endangering the public by sending out the robot into public places will for practical purposes face no risk of effective enforcement. The victims, and not the perpetrators, are the ones that the Government would leave at greatest legal risk.

 

It is unfair to burden a person suffering personal injury or property damage due to these robots to have to sue for damages. The costs and stresses of such litigation are substantial. People with disabilities traditionally have faced serious barriers in access to effective legal services, and barriers in the court system itself. Moreover, disproportionately, people with disabilities live at or near the poverty line. They thus cannot shoulder the costs of such litigation.

 

In addition, such a civil plaintiff would have the burden to prove who is responsible for their injuries. This presents all the monumental enforcement issues identified above, while dumping these hardships on private individuals with no public law enforcement and investigation powers. Add to this the possibility of a corporate defendant claiming that the fault lies with the robot’s designer, including software developers. Why should members of the public ever have to endure this?

 

 

7. No Effective Measures Available to Controvert These Dangers

 

The Ontario Government is asking if there are any measures it could enact to offset the safety and accessibility dangers that robots pose. The short answer is that there are none. Any effort by the Government to enact such is, as has been the case for electric scooters, doomed to fail.

 

 a) Requiring a Remote Driver Is No Solution

 

Autonomous robots present a huge danger to people with disabilities and others. These dangers are not eliminated or materially reduced if the law requires a robot to have a remote driver or monitor. There is no way for the public to enforce such a requirement. There is no way to know from looking at a robot, barreling towards you on the street or sidewalk, that there in fact is a remote driver somewhere, who is attentive to steering the robot.

 

If a company could even be identified as the robot’s source, there is no way for a prosecutor or plaintiff to affirmatively prove in court that there was no remote driver operating the robot. There is no way to know whether the robot is in fact operating autonomously some or all of the time, even if a remote driver or monitor exists.

 

If there were a remote driver, it is vital that they only be permitted to steer one robot at a time. There is no way to know if a remote driver is directing multiple robots at the same time, dangerously dividing their attention.

 

There are no prior standards for training a remote driver, akin to a driver’s education course for car-drivers. The simple fact that a human being is remotely involved does not ensure that they have the skills and knowledge needed to safely operate the robot.

 

There is a massive difference between having a driver in place in a motor vehicle on the one hand, and having a remote driver at some other location, on the other. The remote driver is not assured to have the same view as does a live driver on site in a vehicle. A live driver’s own safety is at stake if they get into a crash. A remote driver’s safety is never at risk from their remote driving of a robot.

 

There is no way to police whether the remote driver is paying attention and is not intoxicated or otherwise has reduced attention. Indeed, there is no way for the public to know if a remote driver is even in Ontario and hence within the reach of a police investigation, or is situated halfway around the world, far removed from the reach of Ontario law and the damage that their remote driving can cause.

 

 

 b) Speed Limits Are No Solution

 

Of course, the faster a robot goes, the greater is the damage it can inflict in a collision. Despite this, these dangers are not eliminated by speed limits imposed on robots. It is not possible to effectively enforce speed limits for robots. It would require police on every street, and sidewalk, equipped with hand-held radar for tracking their speed, constantly looking to see if a robot needs to be monitored. Especially in a society reeling from the added public and private costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, the enforcement costs would hardly be a societal priority, just so some mega-companies like Amazon can deliver their products without using delivery people.

 

Moreover, the dangers that these robots pose is not limited to the times when they are moving. When not moving, they are another form of unexpected sidewalk clutter that can be a tripping hazard for people with vision loss, and a barrier to mobility for people using mobility devices.

 

If a speed limit were to be set, it would need to be so slow that it would likely defeat the purpose of using robots. For example, if the speed were 3 KPH, businesses like Amazon will no doubt find that delivery people can get packages delivered more quickly by using human delivery people.

 

 

 c) Robots Emitting Sound Helps But Is No Solution

 

One option being considered is to require that the robot emit a beeping or other audible sound. This could alert some people to the robot’s presence. While this might help a little, it is also not an effective solution.

 

To be effective, there would have to be a universal sound, and a massive public education campaign to ensure that the entire public, including tourists from elsewhere, know that this is the sound of a robot.

 

Moreover, the audible alert must be ongoing, and not only when the robot approaches a person. It must be loud enough to be heard amidst city noises like traffic, construction, cars or restaurants blaring music, lawn mowers, etc. If not, a person might not be able to hear the robot sound, to localize its location and to know it is a robot.

 

 d) How Does a Robot Get Insurance?

 

Whenever a motorized vehicle is permitted to operate in public, decades of wise public policy requires that the vehicle be licensed and insured. One of the dangers arising from electric scooters arises from the fact that the Ontario Government wrongly departed from that basic public protection, for no valid public policy (except for the enrichment of e-scooter rental companies).

 

This rases the question whether the province can effectively require that robots be insured. There is likely no robot insurance available. Moreover, there is no way for a member of the public or law enforcement official to ask a robot to produce its insurance policy for verification.

 

 e) No National Safety Standards For Robots

 

Normally, motorized vehicles are not permitted on the road or other public places unless they have been tested and certified as meeting national safety standards. The Ontario Government has already endangered the public by not requiring this for electric scooters. It would make this even worse by not doing so for robots operating in public or quasi-public places.

 

As a first step, sufficient national safety standards would be needed. We are aware of none.

 

Such standards could include the permissible size, weight and shape of these robots. Just the shape alone of these robots is important. The severity of the injury they cause could be exacerbated by the shape, weight and size of the robot. If the robot is travelling at a higher speed, it gives people less time to become aware of their approach and to get out of the way. If the robot has sharp, hard edges and corners, not padded and rounded corners, they can inflict more damage. The heavier they are, the more damage they might inflict.

 

National standards could set requirements for permissible speeds, and for mandatory features to be included in the robots. They could set minimum requirements for a robot to be tested before its public use, including the tests that must be run. Whenever new software is added, they could add requirements for further testing before the robot might resume operation. We all know how new software can include bugs.

 

 

8. Snow-Shoveling robots Create Additional Dangers

 

One use for these robots would be for shoveling snow, e.g., on sidewalks. This presents additional dangers beyond other uses of robots on public sidewalks.

 

A recurring problem now facing people with disabilities during snowy periods is where snow is shoveled off a road or sidewalk, but piled up in another path of travel, such as a walkway from a house to the roadside. This results in new disability barriers being created that can make a hitherto accessible path inaccessible.

 

It must be a human being to be the one doing the snow shoveling, so that they can make sure this does not happen. Robots are less likely to avert the creation of these snow barriers.

 

 

9. Robots Can Also Damage Private Property

 

The foregoing addresses the risk of danger to people posed by robots. They also can damage a person’s property. This in turn would shift an unfair burden to those suffering property damage to have to prove who is at fault, and the value of the loss. If the person is not present when the damage is caused, this will be impossible to do. If the person has vision loss, they will likely not be able to provide the necessary information to prove the claim.

 

 

10. Leaving Approval of Robot Use to Each Municipality Creates Undue Hardship for People with Disabilities

 

The Ontario Government is considering giving each municipality the power to set local requirements for robot use and/or power to decide if robots will be permitted. This would create a huge undue hardship for people with disabilities and others.

 

This would shift to people with disabilities and charitable community organizations the massive burden to have to battle against approval of robots, one municipality at a time. The Government inflicted this on the disability community two years ago, when it gave each municipality the power to allow e-scooters. Since then, people with disabilities have had to battle in one city after the next to prevent the danger posed by e-scooters. As noted earlier, we have unfairly been pitted against e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists waging a well-funded lobbying campaign. In Toronto, we succeeded. In Ottawa, the corporate lobbyists succeeded. This has burdened our community with hours and hours of work, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. People with disabilities in Ottawa have already suffered from e-scooters left in public places and ridden in public.

 

This ordeal should not be replicated in the context of these robots. It wastes a great deal of time, and resources of municipal planning and policy officials. They already have many pressing issues on their plates.

 

 

11. Don’t Run a “Pilot” Project with Robots, Burdening People with Disabilities and Others to File Complaints

 

It is similarly wrong to authorize pilot projects with robots. It is wrong to experiment on non-consenting members of the public, as guinea pigs who will be subjected to this danger to their safety and accessibility. People are only supposed to be subjected to a human experiment if they consent to being involved in it.

 

Moreover, as the experience with e-scooters has shown, it is wrong to create this new danger, and then to shift the burden to the public to lodge complaints if they experience a problem. People have lots to do, without having this downloaded onto them without their agreement. Many won’t even know they can report problems, or to whom they should report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Appendix October 18, 2021 Ministry of Transportation Ontario Slide Deck for Public Consultation

 

MTO AV Program Enhancements 2021 Accessibility Seniors

Contents

Slide 1. 1

Slide 2. 1

Slide 3. 2

Slide 4. 3

Slide 5. 3

Slide 6. 4

Slide 7. 5

Slide 8. 6

Slide 9. 7

Slide 10. 7

Slide 11. 8

Slide 12. 9

Slide 13. 10

Slide 14. 11

Slide 15. 12

Slide 16. 13

Slide 17. 14

Slide 18. 14

 

Slide 1

Header: Ministry of Transportation

Title: Automated Vehicle Pilot Program

Consultations on Proposed Enhancements to the Pilot Program

October 2021

Slide 2

Title: Purpose of Consultations

 

Purpose of the proposals are to:

  • Reduce burden for Ontario businesses and other entities seeking to test automated vehicles (AV), while protecting road safety.
  • Facilitate innovation in connected and automated vehicle development and remain technology neutral, while protecting road safety.
  • Align Ontario’s Manufacturer Plate (M-Plate) and AV Pilot programs.

 

Purpose of the consultations are to:

  • Seek participant input on the impact to stakeholders, concerns on road safety and any accessibility issues.

 

Footer: Note: the deck is confidential, for discussion purposes only. Do not distribute.

Slide 3

Title: Context: Automated Vehicle (AV) Pilot

  • January 1, 2016: Ontario launched a pilot project to allow for the testing of automated vehicles (AVs) on public roads under certain conditions. Goals: establish rules, monitor industry developments, and evaluate the safety of AVs prior to them becoming widely available to the public.
  • January 1, 2019: In response to advances in AV technology, to ensure economic competitiveness, and in cooperation with key industry and road safety stakeholders, the province made enhancements to the AV Pilot program to:
    • Permit driverless testing under stringent conditions to ensure safety
    • Permit testing of connected “platooning” technology under stringent conditions to ensure safety, in which large trucks are able to travel closely together while tethered electronically, towards greater efficiencies, and
    • Permit the use of conditionally automated vehicles (specifically, Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Level 3 AVs) by Ontario consumers.

Slide 4

Title: Proposals

 

Connected and automated vehicle (CV/AV) technology is rapidly evolving and new opportunities have emerged. As such, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is exploring the following changes:

 

  • Proposal 1: Expand eligible entities for the AV Pilot
  • Proposal 2: Remove restrictions on modification or manufacture of automated vehicles by pilot participants
  • Proposal 3: Expand Manufacturer Plate Program eligibility to include approved AV Pilot participants
  • Proposal 4: Expand Manufacturer Plate Program to allow carrying freight/goods and charging a fee
  • Proposal 5: Add emerging types of AVs to the AV Pilot – automated farm vehicles only at this time
  • Proposal 6: Develop a pilot framework for the testing of automated micro-utility devices

Slide 5

Title: 1: Expand eligible entities for the AV Pilot

 

Current Status:

  • Eligibility for the AV Pilot is restricted to certain entities, such as: original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), technology companies, component and systems manufacturers, and academic and research institutions.
  • A non-eligible entity seeking to conduct AV testing may still engage in testing by partnering with an eligible entity. However, the eligible entity must be the applicant to the pilot and own the vehicle to be tested.

 

Proposal:

  • Remove regulatory restrictions and permit eligible entities that can demonstrate that they are able to meet all requirements entry to the pilot.
  • This could expand eligibility for participation in the pilot to, for example but not limited to, ineligible entities such as municipalities, indigenous groups, corporations, transit companies etc.
  • Any applicant must still satisfy all the requirements of the pilot program before they may be approved.

Slide 6

Title: 2: Remove restrictions on modifications of AVs by pilot participants

 

Current Status:

  • If a vehicle is originally manufactured as a Society of Automotive Engineer (SAE) Level 4 or 5 AV, only the OEM is eligible to modify and test the vehicle under the current AV Pilot framework. Other eligible entities for the AV Pilot are only able to test vehicles that they converted into AVs (SAE Level 3, 4 or 5) and must be responsible for the conversion.

 

Proposal:

  • Remove regulatory restrictions on the modification of vehicles by participants within the AV Pilot Framework. This would allow all eligible entities participating in the program to modify originally manufactured automated vehicles.

 

Footer: Please refer to Appendix for details on SAE Levels.

Slide 7

Title: Discussion Questions for Proposals 1 and 2

  1. What level of support would your organization have for these policy proposals? Why?
  2. Does your organization have any concerns with these policy proposals?
    1. Should the expansion be limited to only certain entities?
    2. Should the vehicle manufacturer/converter have continued involvement? If so, what?
    3. Should conditions be placed on any entities? If so, what?
  3. What impacts would these policy proposals have on your organization or the population your organization serves?
  4. Are there any alternatives which your organization would like to suggest?

Slide 8

Title: 3: Expand M-Plate Program eligibility to include approved AV Pilot participants

 

Current Status:

  • The Manufacturer Plate (M-Plate) Program allows for motor vehicles and motor vehicle component manufacturers to operate non-compliant vehicles on Ontario roads for the purposes of testing, demonstration, evaluation and exhibition.
  • The M-Plate Program is currently restricted to motor vehicle and component manufacturers, which is inconsistent with the eligibility of the AV Pilot.
  • Vehicles manufactured and equipped by the following parties are permitted in the AV Pilot:
    • Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)
    • Technology Companies
    • Academic/Research Institutions
    • Component and Systems Manufacturers

 

Proposal:

  • Expand the M-Plate Program to allow all entities eligible for the AV Pilot to test compliant and non-compliant Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) vehicles (e.g. driverless shuttles) on Ontario roads.
  • Applicants would need to be approved into the AV Pilot prior to applying for the M-Plate program. The programs have separate application forms and approval.

Slide 9

Title: 4: Expand M-Plate Program to allow carrying freight/goods and charging a fee

 

Current Status:

  • Under the M-Plate Program, participants are not permitted to carry freight/goods and to charge a fee.

 

Proposal:

  • Expand the M-Plate Program to allow approved AV Pilot participants using vehicles with an M-Plate to carry freight/goods, and to charge a fee.

 

Footer: Please refer to the appendix for further details on the Manufacturer Plate Program.

Slide 10

Title: Discussion Questions for Proposals 3 and 4

  1. What level of support would your organization have for these policy proposals? Why?
  2. Does your organization have any concerns with these policy proposals?
    1. Should there be restrictions on the M-Plate, such as limiting the number of plates that can be purchased to the number of AV vehicles to be tested?
    2. Should Ontario consider a new plate for AV Pilot participants?
    3. What restrictions, if any, should be placed on allowance to carry freight/goods and charging a fee (e.g. amount or type of goods, whether the entity should be able to make a profit etc.)?
  3. What impacts would these policy proposals have on your organization or population your organization serves?
  4. Are there any alternatives which your organization would like to suggest?

Slide 11

Title: 5: Add emerging types of AVs to the AV Pilot Program

 

Current Status:

  • The current regulatory framework does not capture automated farm vehicles as farm vehicles are not considered motor vehicles.

 

Proposal:

  • Allow for the testing of automated farm vehicles on public roadways, excluding 400-series highways
  • Current rules of the road for farm equipment continues to apply
  • Applicant would still need to satisfy all requirements of the AV Pilot Program before they can be approved
  • Most current rules for AV Pilot participation applies
  • Current driverless conditions in the AV Pilot continues to apply if it is a driverless vehicle
  • Some proposed differences:
    • Simpler data requirements
    • No transportation of hazardous goods, passengers or livestock
    • Platooning allowed (vehicles to travel close together to reap fuel efficiencies)

Slide 12

Title: 6: Develop a pilot framework for the testing of automated or remote-controlled micro-utility devices (MUDs)

 

Current Status:

  • The province does not currently have a regulatory framework in place governing automated or remote-controlled MUDs such as automated personal delivery devices or automated snow plows.

 

Proposal:

  • Create a new 10-year pilot regulation for micro-utility devices leveraging the pilot authority of section 228 of the Highway Traffic Act.
  • Will include micro-utility devices (MUDs) that:
    • May not qualify as motor vehicles under the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and will not be defined as a motor vehicle in Ontario due to its small dimensions and low operating speeds
    • May operate primarily off-road in spaces such as private property, sidewalks, trails, or shoulders of roads
    • Are not meant for the transport of passengers, and
    • Are task oriented and may be operated or modified primarily to provide services such as snow plowing, goods delivery, sidewalk inspections, waste collection etc.
  • Specialized MUD stream for automated sidewalk snow plows due to the need for their larger size/weight.

Slide 13

Title: 6: Proposed general MUDs framework

 

Size: Equal to or less than L120cm x W74cm, 125kg

 

Weight and speed proposals: Maximum speed – 10 km/h in pedestrian spaces, 20 km/h on shoulders or

  • Different speed limits for devices in different weight classes
    • g. 10 km/h speed limit for devices 125kg and less
    • 5 km/h speed limit for devices between 125kg and 250kg

 

Approval and Oversight: Municipal opt-in with authority to limit operations (e.g. where and when)

  • Mandatory operator oversight capable of creating safe stop

 

Operational requirements:

  • Yield to pedestrians
  • Display name and contact and unique device number on device
  • Collision reporting
  • Good working order requirement and secure loads requirement

Slide 14

Title: 6: Proposed MUDs framework continued

 

General safety requirements:

  • Audible alerts – either within proximity alert, or always on directional white noise
  • Lighting in low light settings, reflectors on sides
  • Prohibit carrying of dangerous goods and controlled substances requiring federal placard
  • General liability insurance of $5 million
  • Braking system that allows device to come to a controlled safe stop (i.e. pulled to one side, not blocking passage)
  • Follow pedestrian rules

 

Automated or remote-controlled sidewalk snow plows: follows general MUDs framework except:

  • No maximum weight or dimension restrictions
  • Maximum 10 km/h on sidewalks
  • Requires, in addition to all other safety requirements, emergency stop buttons that are easily accessible
  • Flashing blue light

Slide 15

Title: Discussion Questions for Proposals 5 and 6

  1. What level of support would your organization have for these policy proposals? Why?
  2. Does your organization have any concerns with these policy proposals?
    1. Do you agree with the proposed dimension and weight limits?
    2. Which speed limit option would fit your target population’s needs best?
    3. What type of audible alert would best fit your needs? What proximity should trigger the audible alert?
    4. Are there other safety considerations?
  3. What impacts would these policy proposals have on your organization or population your organization serves?
  4. Are there any alternatives which your organization would like to suggest or other emerging vehicles that should be considered in the future?

Slide 16

Title: Next Steps

  • Feedback received will be used to inform further policy development.
  • Stakeholders and the public will have further opportunity to provide direct comment on the proposals through the Regulatory and Environmental Registries.
  • If you have further comments or questions, please reach out to:

Janet Lee – Senior Policy Advisor

Road Safety Program Development Office

Ministry of Transportation of Ontario

T: (416) 562-7497

E: Janet.C.Lee@Ontario.ca

Slide 17

Title: Appendix: Manufacturer Plate (M-Plate) Program

  • January 1, 2016: Ontario introduced an M-Plate program.
  • The M-Plate Program allows motor vehicle and motor vehicle component manufacturers to operate vehicles on Ontario roads for the purposes of testing, demonstration, evaluation and exhibition.
  • To be authorized to purchase an M-Plate, motor vehicle or component manufacturers are required to complete and submit an application form to the ministry.
  • Once approved, the ministry issues the applicant a letter to authorize the purchase and use of M-Plates.
  • The M-Plate is eligible for use on a passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, bus and a motorcycle.

Slide 18

Title: Appendix: Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Levels of Automation description

 

To summarize SAE Levels:

 

Zero to two – the driver is driving and must constantly supervise any vehicle features that support the driver.

 

Three – the driver is not driving when the automated driving features are engaged, but when the feature requests, you must be ready to take over and drive.

 

Four and five – the person in the vehicle is not driving when the automated driving features are engaged. These automated driving features will not require you to take over driving.

 

Footer: For more information, please visit the SAE website at: SAE Levels of Driving Automation™ Refined for Clarity and International Audience

 

 

 

 

After Winning the Battle in Toronto Last Spring, AODA Alliance and Other Disability Advocates Now Call on London City Council Not to Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Allowing Electric Scooters

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

After Winning the Battle in Toronto Last Spring, AODA Alliance and Other Disability Advocates Now Call on London City Council Not to Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Allowing Electric Scooters

 

August 30, 2021

 

        SUMMARY

 

Will it ever end? Now It’s London Ontario that is considering the possibility of legalizing electric scooters (e-scooters). Due to the Ford Government, we must fight this battle in one city after the next. It was the Ford Government that gave municipalities the power to allow e-scooters. Premier Ford ignored all disability concerns and acted instead at the behest of the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

 

With this issue now rearing its ugly head in London Ontario, the AODA Alliance and other disability advocates are now hitting the ground running, in an effort to avert this danger to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others who live in or visit London. On Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at noon, this issue is an agenda item on the City of London’s Civic Works Committee. The AODA Alliance is one of the disability organizations that have sent in written submissions to that Committee, asking London to say no to e-scooters. The AODA Alliance’s August 27, 2021 brief to the London Civic Works Committee is set out below.

 

We understand that London’s Accessibility Advisory Committee has commendably recommended that London say no to e-scooters. Earlier this year, the AODA Alliance and several other disability organizations and advocates convinced the Toronto City Council to unanimously say no to e-scooters. We are now trying to convince London to do the same thing, without burdening people with disabilities with the hardship of having to mount another hard-fought campaign to protect our safety and accessibility. We need London City Council to stand up for people with disabilities, seniors and others, and to stand up to the e-scooter rental companies’ corporate lobbyists.

 

We have asked London’s Civic Works Committee to allow for a deputation by the AODA Alliance at its August 31, 2021 meeting. We understand that no final votes on the e-scooters issue are expected at that meeting.

 

You can watch the August 31, 2021 London Civic Works Committee meeting live-streamed on Youtube on the City of London’s Youtube stream at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmRugRQ2sUo

 

For more details on the battle that people with disabilities have fought in Ontario over the past two years to avert the danger that e-scooters pose for them, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.

 

Riding Electric Scooters in London is Dangerous and Must Remain Banned — AODA Alliance brief to the City of London Civic Works Committee

August 27, 2021

Via email: cwc@london.ca

 

On its agenda for its August 31, 2021 meeting, the Civic Works Committee of London City Council has an agenda item regarding the possibility of allowing electric scooters (e-scooters) in the City of London. The AODA Alliance submits this brief to London’s Civic Works Committee on that agenda item, and requests an opportunity to make a presentation or deputation at that meeting via whatever virtual platform is being used.

 

In summary, London City Council must not unleash dangerous e-scooters in London. Riding e-scooters in public places in London is now banned and remains banned unless City Council legalizes them.

 

The non-partisan AODA Alliance has played a leading role in raising serious disability safety and accessibility concerns with e-scooters. To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s advocacy efforts to protect people with disabilities and others from the dangers that e-scooters pose, visit its e-scooters web page.

 

The AODA Alliance strongly commends the London Accessibility Advisory Committee for recommending that e-scooters should not be allowed in London. The AODA Alliance asks the City of London Civic Works Committee to follow that advice, and to recommend the following:

 

  1. London should not permit the use of e-scooters, and should not conduct a pilot project with e-scooters.

 

  1. If the City of London is going to explore the possibility of allowing e-scooters, e-scooters should not be permitted if they present any risk to the health or safety of people with disabilities, seniors, children or others, or if they are prone to create new accessibility barriers that would impede people with disabilities within London.

 

  1. At the very least, if this issue is not simply taken right off the table, before proceeding any further, City staff should investigate the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. A public consultation on that issue should be held, beyond a purely online digital survey form.

 

London should benefit from the extensive and commendable work done on this issue in Toronto. This past spring, Toronto City Council voted unanimously not to allow e-scooters, after very extensive consideration of the issue. Toronto City Staff undertook the most thorough investigation of this issue of any Ontario municipality, as far as we have been able to discover.

 

An initial July 2020 Toronto City Staff Report, supplemented by a second February 2021 Toronto City Staff report, together amply show that e-scooters endanger public safety in communities that have permitted them. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. They especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities. Blind people cannot detect silent e-scooters that can accelerate at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmeted fun-seeking riders. Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for people with vision loss and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.

 

It is no solution to just ban e-scooters from sidewalks. The Toronto City Staff reports, referred to above, document the silent menace of e-scooters continuing to be ridden on sidewalks in cities that just ban them from sidewalks. London would need police officers on every block. Toronto City Staff reported to Toronto City Council last summer that no city that allows e-scooters has gotten enforcement right.

 

E-scooters would cost taxpayers a great deal. This would include new law enforcement, OHIP for treating those injured by e-scooters, and lawsuits by the injured. London has far more pressing budget priorities.

 

Especially with COVID still raging, London City Council should not be considering the legalization of dangerous e-scooters. In Toronto, a stunning well-funded behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy of back-room pressure by corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies had inundated City Hall with for months. The corporate lobbyists want to make money on e-scooter rentals, laughing all the way to the bank, while injured pedestrians sob all the way to hospital emergency rooms. That the Toronto City Council unanimously said no to e-scooters despite this massive corporate lobbying should signal to London how important it is to stand up for people with disabilities and others endangered by e-scooters.

 

London City Council should not conduct an e-scooter pilot. A pilot to study what? How many of people living in or visiting London will be injured? We already know they will, from cities that have allowed them. It would be immoral to subject people in London to a City-wide human experiment, especially without their consent, where they can get injured. The call for a “pilot project with e-scooters is just the corporate lobbyists’ ploy to try to get their foot firmly planted in the door, so it will be harder to later get rid of e-scooters.

 

London, like the rest of Ontario, already has too many disability barriers that impede accessibility for people with disabilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires London and the rest of Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. To allow e-scooters would be to make things worse, not better, by creating new barriers impeding people with disabilities.

 

E-scooters create problems for businesses, as well as for people with disabilities. That is why Toronto’s Broadview Danforth BIA made an April 26, 2021 submission to the City of Toronto, set out below, that urged that e-scooters not be allowed. That BIA includes a part of Toronto that has similarities to downtown London.

 

Since we allow bikes, why not e-scooters? An e-scooter, unlike a bike, is a motor vehicle. As such, they should not be exempt from public safety regulations that apply to motor vehicles. A person who has never ridden an e-scooter can hop on one and instantly throttle up to race over 20 KPH. A person cannot instantly pedal a bike that fast, especially if they have never ridden a bike. In any event, London already has bikes. It does not need the dangers of e-scooters.

 

The July 2020 Toronto City Staff Report shows that e-scooters do not bring the great benefits for reduced car traffic and pollution that the corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies claim.

 

London should now call a stop to its exploration of e-scooters. Its residents with disabilities, its seniors and others should not have to mount an advocacy effort like the one that was necessary in Toronto to prevent the City from exposing its residents and visitors to the proven dangers that e-scooters pose. This is so especially while they along with all others must continue trying to cope with the pandemic.

 

Please make London easier and not harder for people with disabilities, seniors and others to get around. Protect those who need safe, accessible streets and sidewalks, not the interests of corporate lobbyists.

 

These references to banning e-scooters do not refer to the very different scooters that some people with disabilities use for mobility devices. Those mobility devices are now permitted and of course, should remain permitted.

 

Learn more about the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, by visiting the AODA Alliance e-scooter web page and by watching the AODA Alliance’s short, captioned video on this issue. Read the AODA Alliance’s March 30, 2021 detailed brief to Toronto City Council on e-scooters. Read the January 22, 2020 open letter to all municipalities and to Premier Doug Ford co-signed by 11 disability organization, that oppose e-scooters in Ontario.

 

Learn more about the AODA Alliance by visiting www.aodaalliance.org, by following @aodaalliance on Twitter, by visiting our Facebook page at www.facebook.com or by emailing us at aodafeedback@gmail.com.

 

April 26, 2021 Written Submission to the City of Toronto by the Broadview Danforth Business Improvement Area

 

April 26, 2021

 

TO: Infrastructure and Environment Committee Clerk

 

FROM: The Broadview Danforth BIA

 

RE: Item: 1E21.7 Pilot Project: Electric Kick-Scooters

 

I’m writing on behalf of the 355 business members in the Broadview Danforth BIA to support the recommendation being made by the General Manager, Transportation Services to decline the option to participate in O.Reg 389/19 Pilot Project for Electric Kick-Scooters. Our comments below can be shared with the Infrastructure and Environment Committee — meeting on April 28, 2021.

 

We have reviewed the components related to this proposed pilot project and have serious concerns that it would be very difficult to implement in a manner consistent with public safety and order.

 

Following a presentation made by Janet Lo from Transportation Services to BIAs, our key concerns are as follows:

Safety issues related to people with disabilities who use our sidewalks and wouldn’t be able to safely continue doing so if e-scooters were allowed on sidewalks.

 

Safety issues related to all people using sidewalks — the potential of e-scooters being left on the sidewalks or tied to benches, tree guards etc. and falling over will lead to potential tripping hazards.

 

Lack of clarity on insurance coverage for riders, e-scooter rental companies and the general public who may be injured by e-scooter riders. Lack of City/police resources to enforce any kind of e-scooter laws. At the moment we have cyclists improperly using the roads and bike lanes and enforcement is almost non-existent. It’s impossible to believe that enforcement will be available for e-scooters. Our businesses are fighting for their survival during this pandemic and the last thing we need is for customers to feel unsafe using our sidewalks.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration of our feedback on this issue.

 

Albert Stortchak

Board Chair

Broadview Danforth BIA

 

 

 

 

Attend CNIB’s July 27, 2021 Virtual Town Hall on Dangers that Electric Scooters Pose for People with Disabilities if London Ontario Allows Them – and— Please Fill Out an Important Online Survey About Disability Barriers in Ontario’s Courts

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

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/

 

Attend CNIB’s July 27, 2021 Virtual Town Hall on Dangers that Electric Scooters Pose for People with Disabilities if London Ontario Allows Them – and— Please Fill Out an Important Online Survey About Disability Barriers in Ontario’s Courts

 

July 22, 2021

 

            SUMMARY

 

Here’s a buffet of recent news from the trenches of the battle for accessibility for people with disabilities:

 

  1. Please come to CNIB’s July 27, 2021 Virtual Town Hall between 5 and 7 pm local time to discuss the dangers that e-scooters pose if the City of London Ontario allows them. Read on for details on how to register to take part.

 

  1. Please complete an important online survey before September 30, 2021 about disability barriers you have experienced in Ontario’s Courts. See below for more information on this.

 

  1. What do you think of the initial reports of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee or the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee on what needs to be done to tear down the many disability barriers that impede students with disabilities in Ontario? Let us know! Once again, read on for more about this.

 

Believe it or not, 903 days ago, the Ford Government received the blistering final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. It called for urgent action to speed up and strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Since then, the Ford Government has still announced no comprehensive plan of action to implement that report. Numbering at least 2.6 million, Ontarians with disabilities deserve better.

 

 

            MORE DETAILS

 

1. Come to CNIB’s July 27, 2021 Virtual Town Hall on Dangers to People with Disabilities if London, Ontario Allows E-Scooters

 

It is very troubling that London, Ontario is considering allowing e-scooters. After an incredibly tenacious effort, people with disabilities managed to convince the City of Toronto not to allow e-scooters because they endanger people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. Now it is time to mount a similar campaign in other cities in Ontario that are thinking of creating the same danger for people with disabilities.

 

London, Ontario is now actively considering the possibility of conducting a “pilot project” with e-scooters. The corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies are unquestionably behind this, as they were in Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor and elsewhere.

 

We are thrilled that on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 from 5 to 7 pm local time, CNIB will be hosting an on-line Virtual Town Hall for people with disabilities to discuss concerns about the possibility of London allowing e-scooters and to explore what you can do about this danger. Please plan to take part! To register for this event, contact Larissa Proctor Larissa.Proctor@cnib.ca and let her know if you have any accommodation needs.

 

For background you can check out our short, widely viewed, captioned online video by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky about the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities. It formed part of our successful campaign against allowing e-scooters in Toronto.

 

Toronto City staff did a comprehensive job of documenting the dangers that e-scooters pose for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. That research led Toronto City Council to unanimously defeat a proposal to allow e-scooters, which was heavily backed by the e-scooters corporate lobbyists. We call on all other Ontario cities to show the same wisdom and concern for the safety of people with disabilities and others.

 

To learn all about our campaign over the past two years to protect Ontarians with disabilities from the dangers that e-scooters pose, visit the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page.

 

Why are we having to fight this battle one city at a time? Sadly, this is all due to Premier Doug Ford refusing to listen to us about this while listening instead only to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists. Two years ago, e-scooters were not allowed in public places in Ontario, thanks to Ontario law. As the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page amply documents, the Ford Government decided to change all that in 2019. It passed a harmful regulation that let each municipality conduct a pilot project if they wished with e-scooters over a 5-year period. We tried to convince the Ford Government not to do this, because of the dangers posed to people with disabilities and others. The Ford Government decided, however, to give in to the corporate lobbyists and to entirely reject our concerns.

 

People with disabilities won this uphill battle against the corporate lobbyists in Toronto. We can do the same in London and elsewhere, with your help. Please register to take part in the July 27, 2021 Virtual Town Hall to get involved.

 

2. Please Take Part In an On-Line Survey About Disability Barriers in Ontario’s Court System

 

Have you had experience encountering any disability barriers in any court proceedings in Ontario? Here is an amazing chance for you to anonymously share your experience and help with an ongoing effort to make Ontario’s courts barrier-free for people with disabilities by 2025, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires.

 

In 2007, a major official report, the Weiler Report, mapped out actions needed to make Ontario’s courts fully accessible for court participants with disabilities. It was prepared by a group including representation from the courts, the Government, the legal profession and the disability community. That group was appointed by Ontario’s then Chief Justice Roy McMurtry. It was chaired by then Court of Appeal Justice Karen Weiler. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was a member of that group.

 

Among other things, the Weiler Report recommended that a permanent committee be established to monitor and oversee progress in this area. This led to the creation of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee (OCAC), which has been in action since then. A successor to the Weiler group, OCAC also includes representatives from the courts, the Government, the legal profession and the disability community. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has also been a member of that committee since it began.

 

To help OCAC with its ongoing work, an online survey is underway until September 30, 2021. It gives you a chance to give your input without sharing your identity. Please take part in the survey. Please publicize it to others, and urge them to take part as well.

 

The online survey about disability barriers in Ontario’s courts is available in English at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OCACSurveyEN and in French at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OCACSondageFR

 

To learn more about the AODA Alliance’s advocacy for accessibility in Ontario’s courts, visit the AODA Alliance website’s courts accessibility page.

 

3. Reminder to Send Us Input to Help Us Give Feedback on Barriers in Ontario Schools, Colleges and Universities Facing Students with Disabilities

 

As we earlier announced, we are preparing briefs to submit to the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee on its initial report and to the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee on its initial report. These reports address barriers facing students with disabilities in schools, colleges and universities respectively. Send your input to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com to help us with the preparation of our briefs.

 

We will also very shortly be sharing with you a draft of the brief on disability barriers in the health care system facing patients with disabilities, to see how you like it. That brief, once finalized will be shared with the Health Care Standards Development Committee.

 

It is extremely rare that people with disabilities get a chance to have input into such important issues. They are all happening at the same time. Let’s take advantage and be sure we all have our say.

 

To help you, we have made available a captioned online education video that summarizes the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee’s initial report. Check it out. We have also made available for you an Action Kit on how to take part, as well as a 15-page summary and a 55-page summary of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee initial report. Choose which of these offerings is the most helpful for you.

 

Learn more about our advocacy efforts in the area of education for students with disabilities by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s education page.

 

In a Detailed Report Card Delivered During National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government Gets a Blistering “F” Grade for Its Three Year Record Since Taking Office on Action to Make Ontario Accessible for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

In a Detailed Report Card Delivered During National AccessAbility Week, the Ford Government Gets a Blistering “F” Grade for Its Three Year Record Since Taking Office on Action to Make Ontario Accessible for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

 

May 31, 2021 Toronto: During National AccessAbility Week, the non-partisan grassroots AODA Alliance releases a report card (set out below) on the Ford Government’s record for tearing down the barriers that people with disabilities face, awarding the Government an “F” grade.

 

When he was campaigning for votes in the 2018 election, Doug Ford said that our issues “are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus” and that:

 

“Too many Ontarians with disabilities still face barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education, use our healthcare system, buy goods or services, or eat in restaurants.”

 

Yet three years after taking office, people with disabilities are no better off, and in some important ways, are worse off, according to today’s new report card. Passed unanimously in 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to lead this province to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. Ontario is nowhere near that goal with under four years left. The Ford Government has no effective plan to meet that deadline.

This report card’s key findings include:

 

  1. The Ford Government has no comprehensive plan of action on accessibility, 851 days after receiving the Report of David Onley’s AODA Independent Review.

 

  1. The Government has not ensured that public money will never be used to create new accessibility barriers.

 

  1. The Ford Government has failed to enact or strengthen any accessibility standards under the AODA.

 

  1. The Ford Government has announced no new action to effectively ensure the accessibility of public transportation.

 

  1. The Ford Government imposed substantial and harmful delays in the work of Five important AODA Standards Development Committees that was underway before the Government took office.

 

  1. The Ford Government has repeatedly violated its mandatory duty under the AODA to make public the initial or final recommendations of a Government-appointed Standards Development Committee “upon receiving” those recommendations.

 

  1. The Ford Government has failed for 3 years to fulfil its mandatory duty to appoint a Standards Development Committee to review the Public Spaces Accessibility Standard.

 

  1. The Ford Government has made public no detailed plan for effective AODA enforcement.

 

  1. In a waste of public money, the Ford Government diverted 1.3 million dollars into the Rick Hansen Foundation’s controversial private accessibility certification process. This has resulted in no disability barriers being removed or prevented.

 

  1. The Ford Government unfairly burdened Ontarians with disabilities with having to fight against new safety dangers being created by municipalities allowing electric scooters.

 

  1. The Ford Government’s rhetoric has been harmfully diluting the AODA’s goal of full accessibility.

 

  1. The Ford Government has given public voice to false and troubling stereotypes About disability accessibility.

 

  1. The Ford Government has failed to effectively address the urgent needs of Ontarians with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

  1. The lives of vulnerable Ontarians with disabilities are endangered by the Ford Government’s secret plans for critical care triage during the COVID-19 pandemic, If hospitals cannot serve All critical care Patients.

 

“We keep offering the Ford Government constructive ideas, but too often, they are disregarded,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance which campaigns for accessibility for people with disabilities. “Premier Ford hasn’t even met with us, and has turned down every request for a meeting.”

 

AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has had to resort to a court application (now pending) to get the Ford Government to fulfil one of its important duties under the AODA, and a Freedom of Information application to try to force the Ford Government to release its secret plans for critical care triage if the COVID-19pandemic worsens, requiring rationing of critical care.

 

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

Twitter: @aodaalliance

 

 A Report Card on the Ford Government’s Record, After Three Years in Office, on Achieving Disability Accessibility

 

May 31, 2021

 

Prepared by the AODA Alliance

 

 Introduction

 

This year’s National AccessAbility Week takes place when Ontario’s Ford Government is completing its third year of a four year term in office. This is an especially appropriate time to take stock of how well the Ford Government is doing at advancing the goal of making Ontario accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, the deadline which the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act enshrines in Ontario law.

 

It is with a strong sense of frustration that we award the Ford Government a failing “F” grade for its record on this issue.

 

The Ontario Public Service includes quite a number of public officials who are deeply and profoundly dedicated to the goal of tearing down barriers impeding people with disabilities, and preventing the creation of new disability barriers. They have commendably found quite a number of willing partners within the disability community (both individuals and disability organizations), and among obligated organizations in the public and private sectors. These partners are also committed to the goal of accessibility, and have in their spheres of influenced tried to move things forward. To all these people we and people with disabilities generally are indebted.

 

For example, several Standards Development Committees have been appointed under the AODA to craft recommendations on what enforceable AODA accessibility standards should include to be strong and effective. They have invested many hours, trying to come up with workable recommendations.

 

As well, over the past three years, the Ontario Government has continued to operate voluntary programs that have existed for years to contribute to the goal of accessibility. The Ford Government has also, we believe, improved things by freeing its Standards Development Committees from excessive involvement by Public Service staff. This has enabled those staff to support the work of those committees, while leaving them free to do their own work, devising recommendations for the Government.

 

However, all of that cannot succeed in bringing Ontario to the goal of an accessible province by 2025, without strong leadership by the Ontario Government and those who steer it. This has been the conclusion of three successive Independent Reviews, conducted under the AODA, by Charles Beer in 2010, by Mayo Moran in 2014 and by David Onley in 2018.

 

Over the past three years, we regret that that leadership has continued to be lacking. The result is that Ontario is falling further and further behind the goal of an accessible province by 2025. Less and less time is available to correct that.

 

This report details several of the key ways that the Ontario Government has fallen far short of what Ontarians with disabilities need. As the Government’s mandatory annual report on its efforts on accessibility back in 2019 reveals, the Government’s prime focus has been on trying to raise awareness about accessibility. As has been the Ontario Government’s practice for years, that 2019 annual report was belatedly posted on line on the eve of the 2021 National AccessAbility Week, two years after many of the events reported in it.

 

Decades of experience, leading to the enactment of the AODA in 2005, has proven over and over that such awareness-raising and voluntary measures won’t get Ontario to the goal of accessibility by 2025, or indeed, ever. As always, the AODA Alliance, as a non-partisan coalition, remains ready, willing, able, and eager to work with the Government, and to offer constructive ideas on how it can change course and fulfil the AODA’s dream that the Legislature unanimously endorsed in May 2005.

 

1. The Ford Government Has No Comprehensive Plan of Action on Accessibility, 851 Days After Receiving the Report of David Onley’s AODA Independent Review

 

We have been urging the Ford Government to develop a detailed plan on accessibility since shortly after it took office, to lay out how it will get Ontario to the AODA’s mandatory goal of becoming accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. It has never done so.

 

In December 2018, the Ford Government said it was awaiting the final report of former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement, before deciding what it would do regarding accessibility for people with disabilities. On January 31, 2019, the Government received the final report of the David Onley Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Minister for Accessibility Raymond Cho publicly said on April 10, 2019 that David Onley did a “marvelous job.”

 

The Onley report found that Ontario is still full of “soul-crushing” barriers impeding people with disabilities. It concluded that progress on accessibility has taken place at a “glacial pace.” It determined that that the goal of accessibility by 2025 is nowhere in sight, and that specific new Government actions, spelled out in the report, are needed.

 

However, in the 851 days since receiving the Onley Report, the Ford Government has not made public a detailed plan to implement that report’s findings and recommendations. The Government has staged some media events with the Accessibility Minister to make announcements, but little if anything new was ever announced. The Government repeated pledges to lead by example on accessibility, and to take an all-of-Government approach to accessibility. But these pledges were backed by nothing new to make them mean anything more than when previous governments and ministers engaged in similar rhetorical flourishes.

 

2. The Government Has Not Ensured that Public Money Will Never Be Used to Create New Accessibility Barriers

 

In its three years in office, we have seen no effective action by the Ford Government to ensure that public money is never used to create new disability barriers or to perpetuate existing barriers. The Ontario Government spends billions of public dollars on infrastructure and on procuring goods, services and facilities, without ensuring that no new barriers are thereby created, and that no existing barriers are thereby perpetuated.

 

As but one example, last summer, the Ford Government announced that it would spend a half a billion dollars on the construction of new schools and on additions to existing schools. However, it announced no action to ensure that those new construction projects are fully accessible to students, teachers, school staff and parents with disabilities. The Ontario Ministry of Education has no effective standards or policies in place to ensure this accessibility, and has announced no plans to create any.

 

3. The Ford Government Has Enacted or Strengthened No Accessibility Standards

 

In its three years in power, the Ford Government has enacted no new AODA accessibility standards. It has revised no existing accessibility standards to strengthen them. It has not begun the process of developing any new accessibility standards that were not already under development when the Ford Government took office in June 2018.

 

As one major example, the Ford Government has not committed to develop and enact a Built Environment Accessibility Standard under the AODA, to ensure that the built environment becomes accessible to people with disabilities. No AODA Built Environment Accessibility Standard now exists. None is under development.

 

This failure to act is especially striking for two reasons. First, the last two AODA Independent Reviews, the 2014 Independent Review by Mayo Moran and the 2019 Independent Review by David Onley, each identified the disability barriers in the built environment as a priority. They both called for new action under the AODA. Second, when he was seeking the public’s votes in the 2018 Ontario election, Doug Ford made specific commitments regarding the disability barriers in the built environment. Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, setting out his party’s election commitments on disability accessibility, included this:

 

  1. a) “Your issues are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus and Candidates, which is why they will play an outstanding role in shaping policy for the Ontario PC Party to assist Ontarians in need.”

 

  1. b) “Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, our goal when passing the AODA in 2005 was to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities.”

 

  1. c) “Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s o