Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
An Interim Victory for Disability Advocates — Toronto City Council Directs City Staff to Investigate Dangers to People with Disabilities If Electric Scooters are Allowed
July 29, 2020
Yesterday disability advocates won an important interim victory in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, in the campaign to protect the public, including people with disabilities, from the proven dangers to public safety and disability accessibility that are posed by electric scooters (e-scooters).
At the July 28, 2020 meeting of Toronto City Council, the issue of e-scooters came up on the agenda. A City Staff Report had identified serious problems that e-scooters pose. Despite this, the Staff Report recommended that the City take some preliminary and preparatory steps towards running a pilot with e-scooters next year. However, yesterday Toronto City Council voted instead to direct staff to do more research on the disability accessibility concerns that have been raised regarding e-scooters.
The AODA Alliance has been in the lead in showing that e-scooters pose a serious danger to people with disabilities and others. On February 3, 2020, the City of Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee unanimously voted to recommend to Toronto City Council that e-scooters should not be allowed at all. The City Staff Report had mentioned this important unanimous recommendation, but had given no reasons why the Report did not follow that Accessibility Advisory Committee’s recommendation.
It is our understanding that as a result, nothing moves forward in Toronto until the City staff complete the new research that Toronto City Council has directed. The Toronto City Council motion that passed on a vote of 12 to 11 on July 28, 2020, with 2 Councillors not present, was as follows:
“3 – Motion to Refer Item moved by Councillor Paula Fletcher (Carried)
That City Council refer the Item to the General Manager, Transportation Services and direct the General Manager to report back with any changes needed to address the issues identified by the City’s Accessibility Committee, including issues related to insurance.”
“The AODA Alliance commends Toronto City Council for taking this step, in the face of its being heavily pressured by the corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies to ignore the public safety and accessibility dangers that their product inflicts,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. “In the face of overwhelming evidence that e-scooters in Toronto would endanger public safety, inflict serious personal injuries, create new accessibility barriers for people with disabilities and expose the City to law suits, it is a relief that City Council is slowing down to take a serious look at the problems that e-scooters would cause for all Torontonians, and especially for people with disabilities. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging, City Council should stop debating e-scooters, and should instead focus all its attention on the community’s urgent needs during the COVID-19 crisis.”
This is only an interim victory. We still have a great deal of work ahead of us, and cannot let down our guard. The corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies are no doubt re-doubling their pressure on members of Toronto City Council.
It is deeply troubling that fully 11 members of Toronto City Council voted against having City Staff conduct further research into the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities. The members of Toronto City Council that commendably voted in favour of this motion were Mayor John Tory and Councillors Bradford, Carroll, Fletcher, Matlow, Minnan-Wong, Nunziata, Pasternak, Perks, Perruzza, Thompson, Tory and Wong-Tam. The members of City Council who voted against having additional research done on the harms that e-scooters inflict on people with disabilities include Councillors Ainslie, Bailao, Colle, Crawford, Filion, Ford, Grimes, Holyday, Lai, Layton and McKelvie.
On July 28, 2020, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was interviewed on News Radio 1310 in Ottawa, on the problems with e-scooters that have already emerged shortly after Ottawa began its ill-considered pilot with e-scooters. We will have more to say on the e-scooters issue over the coming weeks. Below is set out an excerpt from an article on this in the July 29, 2020 Toronto Star. The history of this item at Toronto City Council is set out on its website at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.IE14.10
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 open letter to all Ontario municipal councils from 11 major disability organizations, opposing e-scooters in Ontario, and
Read a sampling of news reports on the serious injuries that e-scooters have caused in communities that permit them.
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.
Toronto Star July 29, 2020
E-scooters remain stalled in Toronto
Council wants answers on safety, insurance before considering pilot project
David Rider and Francine Kopun Toronto Star
Electric scooter services will remain parked for now.
Toronto city council on Tuesday never voted on a city staff proposal that would have laid the groundwork for e-scooter rental services to start operating in Toronto for a trial period starting next spring.
That proposal, which would have seen council decide this fall whether to green-light the controversial pilot project, was rendered moot when a competing motion from Coun. Paula Fletcher passed 12-11.
City staff will now look solely at concerns the short-term rental of e-scooters by companies such as Bird Canada pose to the safety of disabled Torontonians, as well as issues around insurance liability for riders and anyone they might hit.
Council won’t get those answers before fall, almost certainly meaning further delay in a possible start date for the scooter services that have aggressively lobbied city officials, originally in hopes of having riders whizzing around Toronto last spring…