Action Kit: Protect Torontonians with Disabilities from the Dangers 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/

Action Kit: Protect Torontonians with Disabilities from the Dangers of Electric Scooters

September 10, 2020

How to Help – In a Nutshell

Please take five minutes to help us stop Toronto from allowing electric scooters (e-scooters), a serious new danger to the safety and accessibility of people with disabilities, seniors and the public. If you live in or visit Toronto, please email Toronto Mayor John Tory at mayor_tory@toronto.ca You can also call Mayor Tory’s office at 416-397-2489 and talk to whoever answers the phone.

All eyes are on Mayor John Tory. If he comes out against e-scooters, then Toronto likely won’t unleash them on us.

We invite you to use this key message in your email or phone message to Mayor Tory. You can cut and paste it, or use your own words.

Mayor Tory, Don’t allow electric scooters in Toronto! Please don’t expose Canada’s largest city to the serious Dangers, Personal Injuries and New Disability Barriers that e-scooters would cause. Don’t do an experiment or “pilot” with e-scooters in Toronto, because that would threaten our safety and would create barriers to accessibility in our community. Toronto already has too many accessibility barriers. Please make Toronto easier and not harder for seniors and people with disabilities to get around.

What You Need to Know About the E-Scooters Issue?

The City of Toronto is considering allowing people to ride e-scooters in public places). They would be made available near curbsides to rent. Right now they are banned, unless City Council votes to allow them.

An e-scooter is a silent motor vehicle. A person with no license can race around on an e-scooter at speeds of 20 kilometers an hour or faster.

A report by Toronto City Staff shows that e-scooters pose a real danger to public safety in places that allow them. E-scooter riders and innocent pedestrians can and do get seriously injured or killed. Check out a recent CBC report on e-scooter injuries suffered in Calgary.

E-scooters especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities, such as people who are blind or 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 rockets toward them at over 20 KPH, driven by a fun-seeking unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmetted rider. Sighted pedestrians cannot hear silent e-scooters racing towards them from behind.

In cities where e-scooters are allowed, rental e-scooters, left strewn around public places, become mobility barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities. For people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, those e-scooters become a serious, unexpected tripping hazard. E-scooters left on sidewalks create serious new accessibility barriers for people using a wheelchair, walker or other mobility device. An e-scooter can block them from continuing along an otherwise-accessible sidewalk. People with disabilities using a mobility device may not be able to safely go up on the grass or down onto the road, to get around an e-scooter.

It won’t solve these dangers for Toronto to allow e-scooters on roads but ban them from sidewalks. Cities that allow e-scooters on roads but ban them from sidewalks find that e-scooters are nevertheless ridden on sidewalks. We’d need police on every street corner to effectively police e-scooters. On July 9, Toronto law enforcement told the City’s Infrastructure Committee that they have no capacity to take on enforcement of new e-scooter rules. City Staff said that there’s no city anywhere that allows e-scooters and that gets enforcement right.

For Mayor Tory to allow e-scooters will cost taxpayers money. There’s new law enforcement costs. There’s OHIP costs for treating those injured in our already-overcrowded hospital emergency rooms. The City could also be sued by people injured by e-scooters. We have more pressing priorities for spending public money.

If Toronto allows e-scooters, the e-scooter rental companies will be laughing all the way to the bank. their corporate lobbyists have been relentlessly turning up the heat on Mayor Tory and City Councilors to allow e-scooters.

Mayor Tory should not allow a pilot with e-scooters in Toronto. A pilot to study what? How many of us will be injured by this silent menace? We already know they do, from cities that allowed them. Don’t subject us to an unnecessary human experiment where we can get hurt.

If we allow bikes, why not e-scooters? A person who has never before ridden an e-scooter (or bike) can hop on an e-scooter and instantly throttle up to over 20 KPH, silently endangering us. In contrast, you can’t instantly pedal a bike that fast, and especially if you’ve never before ridden a bike. In any event, we’ve already got bikes. We don’t need the dangers of e-scooters.

The Toronto’s City-appointed Disability Accessibility Advisory Committee and several leading disability organizations unanimously called on Toronto not to allow e-scooters. Tell Mayor Tory that the safety and accessibility of the public, including seniors and people with disabilities, should prevail over the e-scooter rental corporate lobbyists.

With COVID-19, Torontonians are in crisis, facing unprecedented threats to our health and economy. City Council has more important things to do than debating e-scooters. Montreal tried an e-scooter pilot and called it off. So should Toronto.

Five Ways to Help

On July 28, 2020, Toronto City Council directed City staff to investigate the concerns of people with disabilities regarding e-scooters. Here are five ways to have your say. Email us at  aodafeedback@gmail.com to tell us what you tried and what you heard back.

  1. Please call and email Mayor Tory’s office. Tell him not to allow e-scooters in Toronto.

mayor_tory@toronto.ca 416-397-2489

  1. Email or call Toronto’s General Manager of Transportation Services Barbara Gray. Give her the same message. You can reach her at:

Phone 416-392-8670

Email: Barbara.Gray@toronto.ca

  1. Get your friends and family members to call or email Mayor Tory’s office to tell him not to allow e-scooters in Toronto.
  1. If you are a member of a church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious or community organization, get your organization or its leaders to email and phone Mayor Tory to oppose allowing e-scooters in Toronto.
  1. Widely circulate and post this Action Kit. Use social media like Twitter to tell MayorTory not to allow e-scooters. Mayor Tory’s Twitter handle is: @JohnTory

Here is a sample of a tweet you might send on Twitter:

@JohnTory Don’t allow electric scooters in Toronto! Please don’t expose Canada’s largest city to the Dangers, serious Injuries and New Disability Barriers that e-scooters inflict https://acorta.me/2fe #accessibility #ToPoli

For more background:

Read the AODA Alliance’s July 8, 2020 brief to the City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee, already endorsed by Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and the March of Dimes of Canada

Read the February 6, 2020 letter from the AODA Alliance to Toronto Mayor John Tory which he has not answered.

Read the open letter to all Ontario municipal councils from 11 major disability organizations, opposing e-scooters in Ontario, and

Read the AODA Alliance’s July 10, 2020 news release explaining what happened at the July 9, 2020 meeting of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee where the AODA Alliance and others presented on this issue.

Visit the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page.