Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Come to a Toronto Area Public Forum on the Federal Elections’ Disability Issues on October 16 – and – More Reasons Why Electric Scooters are Bad for Ontario
October 11, 2019
Here are bits and pieces of accessibility news to share, that have been building up in our virtual in-tray! We hope you enjoy this information, on the 254th day since the Ford Government received the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. How much more we would have to give thanks for on this Thanksgiving weekend if the Government were to have announced a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report.
On the national front, we want to let you know that on the evening of October 16, 2019, a federal election forum will be held in Toronto to focus on disability issues in the current federal election. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to be one of the event’s speakers. We encourage you to attend. The full details are set out in the event announcement, below.
We remind one and all to raise disability accessibility issues with the candidates in this election. Use the AODA Alliance’s new Federal Election Action Kit. It gives you great action tips and all the background that you need to help press our issues. Please retweet the tweets that @aodaalliance is now tweeting to candidates for Canada’s Parliament, where we ask for election commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities.
Turning to the provincial front, the AODA Alliance has been trying to play a leading role in raising concerns with the Ford Government’s plans to expose Ontarians to the serious safety and accessibility risks posed by allowing electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ontario.
We have no word from the Ford Government on the results of their rushed consultations on this issue last month. In the meantime, opposition continues to grow to the Government’s plans. Below, we set out the October 2, 2019 news release by the City of Toronto on the subject. It recognizes a need to ensure protection for both public safety and accessibility, and reflects a cautious approach to allowing e-scooters in Canada’s and Ontario’s biggest city.
Torontonians need to press their city council members as well as the Ford Government to not allow e-scooters onto our streets, sidewalks or other public places, since they pose a safety and accessibility threat. We expect that the companies that want to make money renting e-scooters in Ontario and having them parked for free all over our sidewalks, like Lime and Bird, are heavily lobbying both the Ford Government and members of Toronto City Council, behind closed doors.
We also set out below an October 5, 2019 guest column in the Toronto Star that highlights how much of a safety risk e-scooters have proven themselves to be. We also show you an October 9, 2019 letter to the editor in the Toronto Star that reinforces those safety concerns.
We wish one and all a happy and barrier-free Thanksgiving.
Announcement of October 16, 2019 Toronto Area Federal Election Forum on Disability Issues
2019 Federal Election Forum on Accessibility and Disability Justice
The GTA Disability Coalition invites people with disabilities and their allies to join us for a federal election forum on accessibility and disability justice.
– Engage with an informed panel of experts speaking on the federal parties’ platforms on key disability issues
– Raise your awareness about actions you can call on parties to take to advance an accessible Canada
– Ask questions and share your civic voice in #AccessibleCndVOTE
DATE: Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
TIME: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm)
LOCATION: Ryerson University, Tecumseh Auditorium, Ryerson Student Centre, 55 Gould Street (SW side of Gould and Church St)
Submit your questions on Twitter to #AccessibleCndVOTE
Forum Partners: Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians. A-Way Express. Balance for Blind Adults. Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Centre for Independent Living in Toronto. Doris Power. Ethno-racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario. Empowerment Council. Kim Adlard. Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre. ODSP Action Coalition. Older Women’s Network. Ryerson University. Springtide Resources. Students for Barrier-Free Access -U of T. Working for Change.
October 2, 2019 City of Toronto News Release on E-Scooters
City of Toronto Media Relations has issued the following:
October 2, 2019
City of Toronto moves to ensure safety and accessibility at forefront of planning for e-scooters
Toronto City Council today adopted a series of recommendations focused on dealing with the future oversight and management of e-scooters in Toronto.
The City is carefully planning for the provincial government’s anticipated introduction of e-scooters in Ontario by prioritizing safety and accessibility for the use of e-scooters in Toronto. Among comments provided to the province, municipalities in Ontario including Toronto have requested that municipalities maintain oversight on how e-scooters are regulated and how they are deployed on local streets.
City Council voted to direct Transportation Services, Municipal Licensing and Standards, the Medical Officer of Health and the Toronto Parking Authority, to report later this year on a program to enable the oversight and management of e-scooters on City roadways, including the possibility of adding electric scooters to the bike share fleet as a way of managing e-scooters in the public right-of-way, with the goal of ensuring a safe and accessible transportation network for all users during the proposed 5-year Provincial pilot project.
Until proper regulations are developed, City staff successfully recommended that City Council continue to prohibit the use of e-scooters on City sidewalks and pedestrian ways, prohibit any person from parking, storing or leaving an e-scooter on any street, sidewalk and pedestrian way.
Currently under the Province of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA), vehicles such as e-scooters are not considered legal for use on city/public roads, including in bike lanes. As motorized vehicles, they are also not permitted for use on municipal sidewalks.
The Ontario government has proposed regulations for the use of e-scooters, including details for a five-year pilot window. The HTA will not be altered but the rules around pilot projects for e-scooters in Ontario are expected to be outlined. Timing is currently unknown while the province reviews public input.
E-scooters are being piloted in several North American cities, including Canadian jurisdictions outside Ontario, as well as in a variety of American jurisdictions. Programs have had varied success and outcomes with regard to use, safety, sidewalk clutter and parking. More data is being collected in other cities on safety and environmental impacts of e-scooters.
While a number of cities have piloted e-scooters, some cities are reviewing and consulting the public such as Boston, Seattle and Boulder. Examples of cities that currently prohibit e-scooter programs include London (UK), New York City (Manhattan), Philadelphia, Dublin and Honolulu.
Once the regulation for Ontario is made available by the province, City staff will review it and are expected to report back to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee in December on a proposed framework that enables the oversight and management of e-scooters on Toronto roadways, with the aim of ensuring safe, sustainable and accessible transportation for all users during a proposed pilot project.
Documentation of the motion that City Council adopted today is available at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.IE7.13
A letter from the Toronto City Manager to the Ministry of Transportation is available at https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2019/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-138531.pdf#xd_co_f=ODM2YzZiMjYtMzIwZi00MGQ5LTlhZTgtZTNiYTU2Mjg1ZTI0~.
Link to the relevant portion of the Highway Traffic Act (PDF file): https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_950.pdf
“We must plan responsibly for e-scooters on our streets with safety and accessibility at the forefront of those plans. I believe this approach to this emerging transportation option will ensure we go about this in the right way that listens carefully to our residents, community groups, and businesses.”
– Mayor John Tory
“We all want safe, sustainable and modern travel options in Toronto. Learning from other cities, we know that success means taking care to develop an e-scooter program for Toronto.”
– Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee
Toronto is Canada’s largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.9 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit http://www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cityoftoronto, on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cityofto.
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Media contact: Eric Holmes, Strategic Communications, 416-392-4391, 416-629-4891 (cell), Eric.Holmes@toronto.ca
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All City of Toronto news releases are also available on the City’s website at www.toronto.ca/home/media-room/news-releases-media-advisories/
Toronto Star October 5, 2019
Just how dangerous are e-scooters? Early numbers show an injury rate that’s almost 600 times higher than taking the bus
By Duncan Stewart, Contributor
How many Torontonians will be scooter commuters? Fewer than you think.
Although rentable dockless e-scooters (adult sized versions of push scooters with a battery and electric motor) are coming to Toronto soon in a pilot at the Distillery District, new data on safety makes it unlikely that many Torontonians will use them as part of their daily commute.
We could certainly use them: There is a clear need for environmentally friendly modes of transport for short distances and e-scooters and e-bikes — often referred to as micromobility devices —could reduce the number of private car, taxi and Uber trips we make.
Especially those that really don’t need to be car trips at all: as of 2017, 46 per cent of all U.S. car trips annually were for 5 kilometres or less, and 21 per cent were for less than 1.6 km. Assuming a 25 km/h speed limit for scooters, those trip distances translate into 12 minutes or less. I’ve spent longer than that waiting for an Uber or looking for parking!
Both e-scooters and e-bikes are suggested as a way of getting commuters out of cars and reducing congestion: Toronto was recently ranked the North American city with the worst commute, and sixth worst globally. And if scooters are used for daily commuting, not only does that mean fewer cars at peak traffic times, we’d also probably see less-crowded buses, streetcars and subways.
Not so fast.
The Toronto pilot is not the first e-scooter program in Canada: they have been in Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary for a while now… and Calgary is particularly interesting in that Alberta Health Services has been tracking how many people are showing up in hospital emergency departments due to scooter injuries since the start of their pilot in July. I was eager to see Canadian data, since I already had data from a study done in Austin, Texas in 2018, and I wondered if scooters had a different safety profile up here.
Before discussing the Calgary findings, we need to put safety of different transportation modes in context. Experts look at the number of deaths and injuries per trip. A massive 2007 U.S. study showed that the combined death and injury rate/100 million trips was about 160 for buses, 200 for pedestrians, 800 for passenger vehicles, and 1,500 for bikes. The Austin numbers were shocking: using the exact same way of counting, the injury rate for e-scooters was 20,000 per 100 million trips. Scooters were 100 times riskier than walking, and 13 times riskier than biking.
Data is still coming in from Calgary, but as of mid-September, 477 scooter riders have been to hospital and have taken a cumulative 500,000 trips. Which translates to an injury rate (no deaths yet, thank goodness, but there have been eight so far in the U.S.) of 95,400 per 100 million trips.
That is not a typo or miscalculation: the Calgary injury rate is nearly five times higher than Austin, and almost 600 times higher than taking the bus. I doubt that the Calgary injury rate is actually that much different from Austin – I expect the differences in our respective medical systems make Canadians much more likely to go hospitals, so the Texas data actually under-reports the true e-scooter injury rate.
How will this affect scooter usage in Toronto over the long run? There are two groups of likely scooter users: tourists and micromobility commuters. Toronto had 44 million visitors in 2017, and many of them come here when our streets are not filled with snow and ice, so scooters may make sense for many of them. And they’re fun to ride! But tourists think about risk and injury differently than commuters: they go hot air ballooning, bungee jumping and ziplining, despite those activities having relatively higher risks. It’s only once or twice, so the overall risk is low. But no one commutes 500 times per year, year after year, by balloon or zip line.
Leave the e-scooters for the tourists – for the rest of us, they look like a greener, faster, and more fun way to get to an emergency room.
Duncan Stewart is the director of research for tech, media and telecom for Deloitte Canada.
Toronto Star October 8, 2019
E-scooters are a risky way to commute
Numbers are in, and e-scooters look dangerous, Opinion, Oct. 5
Duncan Stewart’s article was a breath of fresh air because it was based on research, not a marketing hype to attract renters and local governments to buy in.
Using e-scooters to get commuters out of cars and reduce traffic congestion in Toronto will soon be tested in a pilot program in the Distillery District. But hold on. Pilots have already been run in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa and Edmonton. And in Austin, Texas. The Calgary results are stunning. Based on hospital visits, it was deemed that it is 500 times riskier to ride the e-scooter than to walk and 65 times riskier to ride an e- scooter than a bicycle. Austin stats were lower, but were possibly related to the fact that injured riders might not as quickly go to the hospital without universal coverage as we enjoy in Canada.
The high injury stats make sense. For an inexperienced user, there is a learning curve of balance, speed and the all-important reading of the situation on the street or path. All of this happening when others are speeding past you on e-bikes, cycles and other scooters and, of course, cars if you are on the street.
Stewart nails it with his last comment: “They look like a greener, funner and faster way to get to an emergency room.”
Mike Faye, Toronto