Hamilton, Ottawa and Brampton Endanger Safety and Accessibility for Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others with Electric Scooters, While Paris France Votes Against Them

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

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Hamilton, Ottawa and Brampton Endanger Safety and Accessibility for Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others with Electric Scooters, While Paris France Votes Against Them


April 10, 2023




In 2019, Premier Doug Ford’s Government let Ontario municipalities endanger the safety and accessibility for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others. It gave Ontario cities the option to allow the silent menace of electric scooters, ridden by untrained, unlicensed and uninsured joy riders. It ignored disability concerns that we presented.


In the latest development, Hamilton and Brampton have started to allow then, while Ottawa decided to allow them again this year. We fear that their city councils and city officials have been easy targets for the e-scooter rental companies corporate lobbyists.


In sharp contrast, people living in Paris France have had enough with the dangers that e-scooters pose. They recently voted against e-scooters in a referendum. We need our provincial and municipal politicians to stand up for people with disabilities, and to stand up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.


The AODA Alliance and a spectrum of disability organizations together continue to campaign against e-scooters in public places, because of their dangers for people with disabilities and others. You can learn more about our efforts and how to help by visiting the AODA Alliance website’s e-scooters page.


Canada’s two largest cities, Toronto and Montreal, have wisely said no to e-scooters in public places. The AODA Alliance has documented the massive scope of the feeding frenzy by e-scooter corporate lobbyists at Toronto City Hall two years ago. Despite that deluge, Toronto banned e-scooters, as a result of strong advocacy from the disability community. However Toronto Police Services appear to have been asleep at the switch in the face of ongoing flagrant violations of the ban around Toronto.


The AODA Alliance has also widely shared a sampling of just some of the news articles from around the world that document the injuries and deaths that e-scooters can an do, cause.


Below are three recent news reports that bring you up to date. As well, the April 6, 2023 evening edition of CBC TV’s Toronto news broadcast included a story on Brampton’s allowing e-scooters. It quoted AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky.


We emphasize that we do not object to powered mobility devices needed by people with disabilities. The kick-style e-scooters we here address are very different. They go far faster and pose a distinctive danger to vulnerable people with disabilities and others.




Novae Res Urbis April 5, 2023


Publisher at http://www.nrupublishing.com/

Hamilton rolls out e-scooter pilot

Improving urban micro-mobility

Lana Hall


The City of Hamilton is the latest municipality in the GTHA to launch an e-scooter pilot, reviving longstanding debates about whether the sustainability and mobility benefits of the motorized scooters so often noted by their proponents outweigh the safety concerns expressed by accessibility advocates.


The City’s pilot program, which launched on April 3, will eventually see 450 Bird Canada e-scooters available to rent and ride within Hamilton’s Wards 1, 2, 3 and 13. Under the commercial e-scooter pilot program framework, Bird can deploy e-scooters for an initial one-year term, with up to three one-year extensions at the City’s discretion. The program is part of a pilot that the Ontario government is running until the end of 2024 to determine whether or not e-scooters should be permitted permanently in cities.


Bird Canada Chief Operating Officer Alexandra Petre says e-scooters are a green, convenient transportation option for those looking to replace brief car trips or to shorten “last mile” excursions, such as walking from a bus stop to an office.


“That ‘last mile’ from transit or from your car to your destination is definitely one of the main uses,” she says. “You will also see folks who are just popping out to the grocery store or the corner store or somewhere really quick, instead of using their car, which we love to see because it’s reducing emissions when folks do that.”


Since 2020, Bird has launched e-scooter pilots in 10 other Canadian cities, including Edmonton, Ottawa and Windsor. But e-scooter pilots have not been without controversy.


City of Toronto council, for example, voted to opt out of the province’s pilot altogether, citing “extensive research and feedback from the accessibility community,” among other concerns. Ottawa, which launched an e-scooter pilot in 2020 shortened the ridership season in 2022 to address improvements to safety measures and functionality of e-scooter use. Recommendations from the City of Ottawa‘s transportation committee are slated to head to Ottawa city council later this month. In a referendum on e-scooter use in Paris, France last week, nearly 90 per cent of Paris voters were against allowing shared e-scooters, with many citing safety concerns, according to a story from international news outlet France24.


AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky, has been opposed to e-scooters from the beginning, saying they present a hazard to pedestrians, and don’t deliver on their sustainability promises.


“Here’s what we know about e-scooters,” said Lepofsky. “..They’re silent. So if you’re blind like me, or you’re sighted and don’t have eyes in the back of your head, you could have something hurtling at you at 20 kilometres an hour, something you don’t know is coming until it hits you.”


Lepofsky is also concerned that e-scooters left out on the street or sidewalk could be a tripping hazard. “If we allow rental ones, it means they’re going to be left the heck all over the place because people use them and drop them.”


Petre confirms that while riders have to obtain e-scooters from a dock, after their trip’s completion they can leave the scooter anywhere within the pilot’s boundaries, as long as the e-scooter is locked to some kind of fixed infrastructure.


City of Hamilton sustainable mobility program manager Peter Topalovic, told NRU Hamilton is the first Canadian city to have this “lock to” requirement, a request that came directly from consultation with both the City’s Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities and the Seniors’ Advisory Committee while the pilot program’s request for proposals (RFP) was being developed. He says these consultations also resulted in another safety mechanism being implemented: the geofencing of sidewalks so that e-scooters cannot operate on them, along with an audial noise to alert pedestrians when an e-scooter is detected. “I think [the consultation process] was a good thing for us because … it led to us having a really strong RFP with the right requirements,” he says.


However, Lepofsky is not sold on the claimed environmental benefits of e-scooters either. “The marketing ploy is that you just use this for your first mile and your last mile and you take public transit all the way within a mile of where you’re going to go,” he says. “Well, if you’re taking public transit that whole way anyway, then the e-scooters are not saving on gas or pollutants.”


Lepofsky notes that the environmental benefits of the mobility devices depend on a significant number of people replacing car trips with e-scooter trips, something research has not backed up. Lepofsky points to a 2019 study by consulting firm, Civity, which analyzed data from multiple e-scooter providers in Germany and found they were used mostly in inner cities—places already served by public transit and bike share facilities.


“What they’re really saying is ‘let’s do an experiment on the residents of Hamilton to see how many get injured,’” he says. “Last time I checked, it’s not really appropriate to experiment on people’s safety and health without their consent.”


For its part, Bird says it is in regular communication with the City of Hamilton and is prepared to reassess the progress of the pilot if necessary.


“We’ve learned a lot over the past four years,” Petre tells NRU. “We have weekly calls where we will be reviewing data, reviewing concerns, reviewing any inquiries sent to [the municipal hotline]. We will be reviewing all of that data and working collaboratively with the City to make sure that this is a program that actually serves the needs of the city.”


Lana Hall wrote this story on assignment for NRU.


The Globe and Mail April 7, 2023


Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-rising-tide-of-anger-against-the-e-scooter/



A rising tide of anger against the e-scooter




Parisians’ affair with e-scooters appears to be fini.


In a recent plebiscite on the question: “For or against selfservice scooters?” nearly 90 per cent cast a ballot in favour of banning the trottinettes, which Mayor Anne Hidalgo promised to do in the fall.


The scooters have become a source of contention around the world. The French capital was one of the first to embrace them after their debut in California in 2017.


Paris promoted them a year later as a new and exciting, non-polluting form of public transport.


But as they proliferated on Paris roadways and sidewalks – there are about 15,000 today – so did complaints, accidents and fatalities.


The death of a 31-year-old Italian woman in June, 2021, killed after being hit by an e-scooter while walking along the Seine, sparked broad outrage.


It’s not just Paris re-evaluating its position on e-scooters; cities around the globe are doing the same. Several U.S. metropolises and university campuses have banned them after a precipitous rise in the number of accidents and serious injuries associated with their use. Their increasing popularity was linked to a 450 per-cent increase in e-scooter related emergency room visits across America between 2017 and 2021, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Over the same period, 68 died in scooter accidents.


Increasingly, there are altercations between cars and e-scooters. Last week in Seattle, one of those confrontations led to a shooting that killed a 23-year-old man. Something occurred to cause a verbal altercation and, according to police, the scooter driver fired into the car, killing the driver and injuring a passenger.


The majority of e-scooter drivers are responsible (many are helmeted) and ride with respect for the speeds their machines can reach – up to 40 kilometres an hour.


Most travel in protected bike lanes. But then there are those who insist on thwarting bylaws, and whizzing down sidewalks and scaring people – particularly seniors – to death. You literally cannot hear them coming.


On a couple of recent trips to Calgary, I witnessed this firsthand. Weekends are particularly bad, with young people, many inebriated, using the scooters as a means to jump from bar to bar.


They dart in and out of sidewalk traffic without any regard for people’s safety. I witnessed several near misses. Later, they leave the shared scooters strewn around the city.


A continuing study out of the University of Calgary found, in 2022, that roughly one out of every 1,400 e-scooter rides ends in an injury so severe a trip to Emergency is required. Factors attributed to the injuries include risky behaviour – driving while drinking – and environmental elements such as potholes and curbs.


Many cities have e-scooter bylaws prohibiting driving on sidewalks, but they are difficult to enforce unless someone is literally caught in the act.


E-scooter rental companies such as Lime, Dott and Tier are aware of the reputational problem on their hands and the questionable future their machines have in many cities. They had hoped that “geofencing” – a technology that automatically modifies the speed of e-scooters (up to and including halting their movement entirely) depending on their GPS co-ordinates – would eliminate many of their issues. It hasn’t worked. They have geofencing in Paris. But many of the problems are caused by people using their own scooters and not ones from rental companies that have the geofencing technology.


Something has to give.


The reality is there is likely no going back now. The machines are here to stay. As the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said recently: “You can’t uninvent e-scooters.”


In a world in which social planners are encouraging people to ditch their cars and get around in a more environmentally sustainable way, e-scooters would seem a viable alternative, one those same planners would likely want to encourage as a mode of transportation.


Many cities already have a healthy network of bike lanes.


They need to be expanded. Pathways that are separated from pedestrians and cars are ideal. Several cities are increasing the number of those as well.


But there needs to be a crackdown on those e-scooter drivers who are in clear violation of city bylaws.


Those infractions must carry a penalty far greater than a mere slap on the wrist (see $100 fine) many cities hand out now. Getting far more serious about those driving an e-scooter while impaired is also essential to discourage this widespread activity.


Cities weren’t prepared for the e-scooter craze and its associated problems. They are here now and not going away. What’s needed is a hard look at the consequences for those using them and putting the safety of others at risk.


New York Times April 4, 2023


Paris Has Spoken, and It Hates Electric Scooters


Tom Nouvian


A referendum emphasized how many residents had come to regard the scooters as dangerous nuisances with little environmental benefit. Other cities were closely watching the vote.

An overwhelming majority of Parisians who took part in a referendum on rental electric scooters have voted to ban the devices from the streets of the French capital, reflecting exhaustion with a public-transit alternative that was once seen as convenient and climate-friendly but is now largely regarded as dangerous and environmentally questionable.


Relatively few people turned out on Sunday for the referendum — only about 100,000 Parisians voted, less than 7.5 percent of those eligible — but those who did cast ballots left little doubt what they wanted: Nearly 89 percent backed the ban.


The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who once backed the expansion of rental electric scooters to cut traffic, led the campaign against them, describing them as a “nuisance.”


Although the referendum, described as a “public consultation,” was nonbinding, Ms. Hidalgo, a member of the Socialist Party, said that she was “committed to respecting the results of the vote.”


With the operators’ contracts expiring at the end of August, Ms. Hidalgo said, “there will be no more self-service scooters in Paris” come Sept. 1. Privately owned scooters will still be permitted.


Many other cities, including Marseille in the south of France, have been closely watching the vote in Paris as they weigh the future of rental scooters on their own streets. Copenhagen and Montreal banned the electric scooters in 2020, although Copenhagen allowed them to return the next year under strict conditions.


International experts say Paris has long been a leader in the evolution of transportation. “Cities that were already planning or interested in banning scooters will now point to Paris as it is the largest city yet to ban them,” said Sarah M. Kaufman, the interim director of the N.Y.U. Rudin Center for Transportation.


Paris has been one of the largest markets for rental scooters in the world, recording about 20 million trips on 15,000 scooters in 2022. The same year, though, the national road safety department, Sécurité Routière, said that 34 people had died and 570 others had been seriously injured in France while riding an electric scooter or similar mobility device. The French National Academy of Medicine called electric rental scooters a “major health problem.”


“We consider it a victory: Paris is a symbol,” said Arnaud Kielbasa, who set up an association for victims in 2019 after someone riding a scooter knocked down his wife, who had been carrying their 7-week-old baby girl. The child was hospitalized with a concussion. Since then, Mr. Kielbasa had been publicly pushing against the rental operators’ promotion of the scooters as safe, environmentally friendly and an easy mode of public transportation.


“On top of saving people from death and injury, we also have the satisfaction of pushing back the Uberization of our country,” he said.


In the United States, cities like Seattle and Portland saw rental scooter ridership soar during the pandemic, when people feared they could catch the coronavirus on trains or buses and opted for outdoor travel.


“All cities were caught flat-footed by the rise of micro-mobility,” said Sam Schwartz, an international transportation expert and former chief engineer for the New York City Department of Transportation, who said most municipalities are still struggling to regulate scooters.


First arriving in Paris in 2018, the motorized version of the children’s toy were welcomed by Ms. Hidalgo, in her efforts to make the city more green and reduce its congestion.


The next year, 16 companies were offering rental scooters in a marketing frenzy that resulted in reckless riders barreling down sidewalks at speeds of up to 19 miles per hour. Parked scooters were thrown across roadways and into the Seine, and lovers wove precariously through traffic, with two entwined people balancing on a platform the size of a skateboard.


In 2019, a rider was hit by a van and killed, becoming the first but far from the last rental scooter fatality in the city. Afterward, City Hall implemented some basic rules and narrowed the operators to three — the San Francisco-based company Lime, the Dutch start-up Dott and the German start-up Tier.


Since then, their environmental value has also come under close scrutiny.


The three companies pointed to a city-sponsored study that found that the devices helped reduce pollution in Paris, as 19 percent of trips would have otherwise been made by car. But that same study also noted that more than three-quarters of riders would have traveled using another low-carbon method, like walking.


As City Hall hailed the vote as a “victory for local democracy,” opposition parties, including President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance, denounced what they characterized as a one-sided decision.


Calling the vote a “gigantic democratic fiasco,” Sylvain Maillard, a Renaissance lawmaker in the National Assembly representing Paris, said Sunday night on Twitter that he was “thinking of the young Parisians who are the big losers in this binary vote organized by a municipality which has decided to pit one generation to another.”


The three scooter rental companies were critical that online voting — rare in France — had not been allowed, arguing that its absence discouraged the participation of younger voters who were most likely to use the scooters. They also complained that the geographic boundaries of who could vote, excluding people who live in the suburbs but spend time in the capital, were too restrictive.


“It’s as if they prefer traffic jams over getting to their job on time,” said Aymen Kouachi, a salesman who was picking up a scooter to leave his workplace on the Champs-Élysées on Monday. Mr. Kouachi, 22, was among the few who voted to keep the rental scooters on Sunday.


“I will have to find solutions, maybe buy my own electric scooter,” he said with resignation.


Before the vote, the companies operating in Paris organized a marketing campaign based on social-media influencers in the city, and offered free rides on the day of the referendum to try to mobilize young voters, their core customer base.


After spending the sunny afternoon cruising up and down the Champs-Élysées on a rented electric scooter, Dominik Metz, 41, struggled to find a place to park. Unaware of Sunday’s referendum, the German tourist said the news didn’t rattle him. “Next time I’ll just walk or take the subway,” he said. “It’s really no big deal.”


Catherine Porter contributed reporting.

PHOTO: Self-service rental scooters, which the mayor of Paris has described as a “nuisance,” will be gone by September when contracts end. (PHOTOGRAPH