More Media Coverage Focuses on the Dangers to People with Disabilities and Others that the Ford Government Has Created by Its New Regulation that Permits Electric Scooters in Ontario – and – A New AODA Alliance Captioned Online Video Explores the Barriers Facing Patients with Disabilities in Ontario’s Health Care System

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/

More Media Coverage Focuses on the Dangers to People with Disabilities and Others that the Ford Government Has Created by Its New Regulation that Permits Electric Scooters in Ontario – and – A New AODA Alliance Captioned Online Video Explores the Barriers Facing Patients with Disabilities in Ontario’s Health Care System

January 21, 2020

          SUMMARY

1. More Media Coverage Exposes the Danger to Accessibility and Safety for Ontarians with Disabilities and Others Posed by the Ford Government’s New Regulation that Permits Electric Scooters in Ontario

As the new year was beginning, we secured more helpful media coverage of an important part of our campaign for accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. Last fall, over our strong objections, the Ford Government passed a new regulation that allows municipalities to permit uninsured, untrained and unlicensed people, as young as 16 years old, to race around their roads, sidewalks and other public places on electric scooters (e-scooters). Below we set out:

* The December 31, 2019 National Post article, written by Shawn Jeffords of the Canadian Press, and published in a number of news outlets. That article included:

“Stewart Lyon said he has met with organizations that advocate on behalf of the disabled, including the CNIB Foundation and the City of Toronto’s accessibility committee, to address their concerns.

“We have bells on the scooters and we work very hard to make sure they are parked correctly,” he said. “It’s not in our interest to be a pain in anyone’s side. It’s not in our interest to impinge the accessible community in any way.””

The pro-e-scooters corporate lobbyist quoted in that passage, who clearly had the inside track with the Doug Ford Government, has not reached out to meet with the AODA Alliance as part of his stated efforts to reach out to the disability community. We are known to be a leading voice on this issue. We invite him to agree to a public debate with us on e-scooters.

The fact that an e-scooter has a bell on it, as the corporate lobbyist said in that passage, does not eliminate the serious danger to people with disabilities. Nothing ensures that an e-scooter rider will ever use the bell. Moreover, when an e-scooter rider leaves an e-scooter on the sidewalk for people to trip over, blocking people using wheelchairs, the bell won’t remove these safety and accessibility dangers.

* A letter to the editor in the January 4, 2020 Toronto Star, pointing out the serious danger that e-scooters also pose to seniors. That letter warns that e-scooters are not supposed to be ridden on sidewalks, but they will at times be ridden there. In fact, the Ford Government’s new regulation explicitly lets a municipality permit people to ride e-scooters on sidewalks.

* An article in the January 10, 2020 Globe and Mail detailing the problems that e-scooters have posed in other places where they have been allowed.

Read the September 12, 2019 brief that the AODA Alliance submitted to the Ford Government on e-scooters, and our November 28, 2019 news release on the Ford Government’s new e-scooters regulation.

2. New AODA Alliance Captioned Online Video Explains What We Need the Forthcoming Health Care Accessibility Standard to Include to Make Ontario’s Health Care system Barrier-Free for Patients with Disabilities

Here is a new resource you will want to check out and share with others. At any time, you can watch online the captioned 1-hour lecture by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on what we need the forthcoming Health Care Accessibility Standard to include to tear down the many barriers that impede patients with disabilities in our health care system.

The AODA Alliance has been in the lead, pressing the Ontario Government for years to enact a strong and effective Health Care Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to make our health care system fully barrier-free for patients with disabilities. This lecture, given last fall to a Health Law course at the Osgoode Hall Law School, gives practical suggestions on what we need the Health Care Accessibility Standard to include. To learn more about the campaign for a strong and effective AODA Health Care Accessibility Standard, check out our website’s specific resources on health care accessibility issues.

You don’t need to have any education in the law to enjoy this lecture. This online lecture has already gotten a good amount of interest and attention. Over the six weeks since we announced it on Facebook and Twitter, it has been viewed well over 800 times. That number keeps growing.

Please encourage others to watch this online lecture. It would be great if you could share it with anyone you know who works in health care , including doctors, dentists, nurses, physiotherapists and other health professionals. Also, share it with anyone you know who has an administrative job in the health care system, such as a manager in a hospital, community health centre or nursing home.

If e-scooters are permitted in municipalities in Ontario, more people, including people with disabilities, will sadly have to go to our hospitals to treat the injuries that we know are caused by e-scooters and the accessibility of our health care system will become even more important.

3. The Ford Government Still Has Announced No Plan to Implement the Onley Report

As of today, there have been 355 days since the Doug Ford Government received the final report of the Government-appointed mandatory Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that was conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. That report found that Ontario remains full of “soul-crushing barriers “that impede Ontarians with disabilities daily, and that for people with disabilities, Ontario is not a land of opportunity.

The Ford Government said that Mr. Onley did a “marvelous job.” His report called for strong new action to speed up and strengthen the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. Yet the Ford Government has still announced no plan to implement it.

We are now a scant 10 days away from hitting the one year anniversary of the Government’s receiving the Onley Report. In the meantime, the Ford Government has made the situation worse for people with disabilities, by passing its e-scooter regulation that will create new barriers to accessibility and public safety for Ontarians with disabilities.

Stay tuned for more news and action tips on the accessibility front, concerning these and other important issues.

          MORE DETAILS

National Post December 31, 2019

Originally posted at https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/five-year-electric-scooter-pilot-begins-new-years-day-in-ontario

Five-year electric scooter pilot begins New Year’s Day in Ontario

The Canadian Press

Shawn Jeffords

December 31, 2019

TORONTO — A five-year pilot project allowing the use of electric scooters on provincial roads launches in Ontario on Wednesday, despite safety concerns raised by some advocates for the disabled.

The Ontario government announced the pilot in November after holding several weeks of consultations, saying the move will expand business opportunities and help cut down congestion on provincial roads.

But a long-time accessibility advocate said this week he still hopes to convince Premier Doug Ford’s government to require strict enforcement when the e-scooters hit the roads in the coming months.

“Premier Ford seems to want to motor ahead with this plan,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. “We’d like him to put the brakes on. What’s the hurry?”

The Ministry of Transportation floated the idea of legalizing e-scooters during the summer, allowing them to be driven anywhere a bicycle can operate.

The two-wheeled, motorized vehicles are currently illegal to operate anywhere other than private property. Under the new regulations, they will be permitted on roads but cannot exceed a maximum operating speed of 24 kilometres per hour and must also have a horn or bell.

Riders must be at least 16 years old and must wear a helmet while driving one of the vehicles, which cannot weigh more than 45 kilograms.

The ministry said Tuesday that municipalities can pass their own individual bylaws to permit e-scooter use and set safety standards in their communities.

“We expect the municipalities that participate in the pilot to make safety a priority and establish rules that promote the safe operation and integration of e-scooters in their communities,” spokesman Jacob Henry in a statement.

Lepofsky said the vehicles move quickly and quietly and will present a safety threat for the disabled and non-disabled alike.

“As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public,” he said. “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 kilometres per hour on an e-scooter.”

Lepofsky said provincial laws should require e-scooter drivers to have a licence and insurance. They should also ensure that if an e-scooter is left in a public place like a sidewalk, it should be forfeited and confiscated, he said.

E-scooter rental companies should have mandatory liability for any injuries that the vehicles cause, and limits on the number of e-scooters, he added.

Earlier this year, the CNIB Foundation, which advocates for the blind or people living with vision loss, said it was concerned about the rules spelled out in the government’s proposal not taking into account the potential for the vehicles to be improperly driven on sidewalks.

The CEO of Bird Canada, an e-scooter rental company preparing to launch in Toronto this spring, said the company is committed to safety.

Stewart Lyon said he has met with organizations that advocate on behalf of the disabled, including the CNIB Foundation and the City of Toronto’s accessibility committee, to address their concerns.

“We have bells on the scooters and we work very hard to make sure they are parked correctly,” he said. “It’s not in our interest to be a pain in anyone’s side. It’s not in our interest to impinge the accessible community in any way.”

Toronto Star January 4, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2020/01/04/e-scooters-will-lead-to-more-deaths.html

Letters to the Editor

E-scooters will lead to more deaths

There’s every chance that e-scooters will increase pedestrian deaths in Toronto. They’re not supposed to go on the sidewalk, but they will. And when they do, there will be no police to stop them.

I’ve lived on St. Clair West for 11 years and have never seen a car stopped for travelling at 60 or even 80 km/h, which they regularly do, let alone an e-scooter.

David Lepofsky is right to be worried about untrained, unlicensed 16-year-olds silently driving towards him at 24 km/h. I turn 83 this month and being knocked down by a scooter could be fatal.

Bikes are not supposed to be on sidewalks, but they are frequently are on St. Clair West because the street is treacherous and there are no bike lanes.

We’ve had decades of kicking infrastructure investment down the road by all three levels of government. To tell us now that e-scooters are even a partial solution to the problem isn’t laughable, it’s deceptive and tragic.

Deaths caused by e-scooters will be on the heads of those who approve them.

Douglas Buck, Toronto

The Globe and Mail January 10, 2020

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/drive/mobility/

E-scooters may be allowed in Ontario now, but they won’t solve our traffic woes

By MATT BUBBERS

Special to The Globe and Mail

It’s shaping up to be a very happy new year for e-scooter jockeys in Ontario. The first day of 2020 kicks off a five-year pilot project to test the viability

in Ontario of electric kick-scooters, also known as e-scooters – not the sit-down Vespa-style ones, but the stand-up variety.

We’re in for in for a wild, potentially dangerous and undeniably fun ride, but don’t think that these overhyped scooters are a cure for our traffic ailments.

Feelings tend to run hot on any question that asks drivers to share the road, be it bike lanes, e-bikes or streetcars. Depending on where you stand on

e-scooters – which, in some cases, may be not at all, if you’re among those who would prefer they simply didn’t exist – these little electric devices are

an obvious road hazard or an ingenious solution to climate change.

For a vehicle often pitched as a salve for congested cities, research suggests that e-scooters don’t replace trips by car. In Germany, people tended to

use them in inner cities – areas already well served by public transit – for short trips otherwise made by walking or biking, according to a 2019 study

by Civity, a management consulting firm.

The company analyzed data from multiple shared e-scooter providers in Germany, which have been operating en masse since summer, 2019.

“From our point of view, there are neither major advantages nor a serious danger for public transport – at most the tourist Segway rental companies may

be disrupted,” the authors of the Civity study found. In other words, e-scooters might just be a novelty.

In Hamburg, the same study found that escooter use peaked on weekends and later in the day, indicating they’re being ridden mostly for recreational and

tourism purposes, not commuting. In Berlin, usage was highest in tourist areas.

So much for easing rush-hour traffic.

For those with a disability, having e-scooters strewn across sidewalks – as seen in many cities when the devices first launched – presents a more serious

concern.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, a non-partisan advocacy group, called on the Ford government to withdraw the pilot program,

or ban shared e-scooter programs and require users to be licensed and insured.

In Los Angeles, Calgary and Austin, Tex., e-scooter riders have so far proved to be more of a danger to themselves than to others.

Over a three-month period, 190 people were injured in e-scooter crashes in Austin, according to a 2019 study conducted by the city.

Nearly half had head injuries and just more than a third had bone fractures.

Among the 190, two people – a cyclist and a pedestrian – were injured when an e-scooter collided with them.

In Munich, 400 people were arrested for riding e-scooters while drunk during the first few months after the shared devices became available.

There are other issues too, which sharedscooter providers and cities are already trying to solve. In Montreal, users can be fined for leaving a scooter

strewn on roads or sidewalks, although enforcement is difficult.

Providers such as Lime and Bird are working to improve the longevity of shared e-scooters, from as little as 28 days to around two years.

That would greatly reduce their carbon footprint, which was found to be smaller than cars but larger than a bus or bicycle.

The thing is, e-scooters are fun. They’re electric skateboards for people who lack balance and like brakes; they’re surfboards for people who don’t live

near any heavy waves.

Sure, they’re kind of dorky, but once all the Bay Street bros get on them, that will probably change.

Or, e-scooters might simply go the way of the unicycle, the Segway or the hoverboard, and that would be just fine, too.

The thing to remember through all the hype is that even if, by some miracle, e-scooters are implemented flawlessly, they are unlikely to fix the urban

mobility problem.

The media coverage has been disproportionate to the scope of their current and future impact. At best, e-scooters could be a small part of our transportation

network. At worst, they could be a genuine hazard, and there’s no guarantee they’ll make commuting any faster.

Whether they actually end up on a road near you in Ontario is still up to individual municipalities, which can decide when and where to allow them, if

at all.

A spokesperson for the City of Toronto said staff is currently looking into it and will report back to the relevant committee in the first quarter of 2020.