Ford Government Endangers Safety and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities in New E-Scooter Pilot Regulation

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ford Government Endangers Safety and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities in E-Scooter Pilot Regulation

November 28, 2019 Toronto: The Ford Government ignored serious safety and accessibility concerns documented by Ontarians with disabilities. A new regulation announced yesterday allows dangerously fast electric scooters (e-scooters) on roads, sidewalks and other public places. Ontarians with disabilities and others will be exposed to the danger of serious personal injuries, if not worse. E-scooters will become unpredictable new barriers blocking the accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities.

“As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public. I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 KPH on an e-scooter,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance. The Alliance has spoken out against the dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities. “Last August, the Ford Government gave the clear impression that e-scooters would only be allowed on roads. But this new regulation lets municipalities allow them on sidewalks, at serious risk to pedestrians.”

Last summer the Ford Government said it’s committed to the “highest level of safety.” Premier Ford’s website proclaims that one of his Government’s priorities is to “build safer communities.” Yet unlicensed, untrained, and uninsured people racing on silent e-scooters in public places, including our sidewalks, endanger the public, especially people with disabilities.

The Government’s November 27, 2019 news release says that this regulation “will make it easier for people to get around.” Yet rental e-scooters, strewn in public places, do the exact opposite for people with disabilities.

The Ford Government only paid lip service to safety and disability accessibility. Its regulation includes weak, unenforceable provisions to limit how e-scooters are ridden and whether they may be left on sidewalks. It will be extremely difficult if not impossible to ever convict anyone of violating these restrictions, even in the unlikely event that overworked police will have time to investigate e-scooter offences.

The Government appears to have bowed to e-scooter rental companies. The regulation reads as if those companies’ corporate lobbyists wrote it. Earlier this fall, the Ford Government told City News that its proposed e-scooter pilot involved a “compromise” between public safety on the one hand, and the interests of businesses and consumers on the other. The Government’s November 27, 2019 news release proclaimed this policy as expanding business opportunities, featuring one of the e-scooter rental companies that no doubt lobbied for this regulation.

The regulation imposes no obligations on e-scooter rental companies. They need no license or insurance. They are not made liable for their customers leaving e-scooters lying strewn all over our public sidewalks. They do not require those companies to have e-scooter parking docks, to keep them off sidewalks. There’s no cap on the numbers of e-scooters they can flood onto city streets and sidewalks.

We seek an urgent meeting with Premier Ford. We call on the Government to suspend this pilot for at least six months, to conduct a proper consultation and to listen to the people, not just corporate lobbyists. No one wants or needs to ride e-scooters in Ontario in January of 2020, when this pilot begins.

We oppose e-scooters altogether. However, if permitted, mandatory provincial laws should require each e-scooter and driver to have a license, a helmet (even if over age 17) and insurance. If an e-scooter is left in a public place like a sidewalk, it should be forfeited and confiscated. E-scooter rental companies should have mandatory liability for any injuries that e-scooters cause, and limits on the number of e-scooters.

The Government lets any municipality allow e-scooters. Ontarians with disabilities, who are disproportionately poor and disadvantaged, don’t have the resources and capacity to fight the corporate lobbyists in hundreds of municipalities, to fend off these dangers that the Ford Government unleashed. We call on mayors and city councils to protect the public and not allow e-scooters.

It is wrong for the Government to experiment on non-consenting people in this pilot. The Government should instead visit cities that already exposed their population to e-scooters’ risks, to gather data about the injuries they have caused.

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

Twitter: @aodaalliance

All the news on the AODA Alliance’s campaign for accessibility in Ontario is available at: www.aodaalliance.org

Background information:

The Ford Government’s November 27, 2019 news release and backgrounder.

The Ontario New Democratic Party’s November 27, 2019 news release, slamming the Ford Government’s e-scooters announcement that didn’t even mention disability concerns.

The text of the Ford Government’s new regulation on e-scooters.