Toronto City Council Must Reject E-Scooter Corporate Lobbyists’ Attempt to Delay the May 5, 2021 Vote on City Staff’s Recommendation not to Conduct an E-Scooter Pilot Project

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/

Toronto City Council Must Reject E-Scooter Corporate Lobbyists’ Attempt to Delay the May 5, 2021 Vote on City Staff’s Recommendation not to Conduct an E-Scooter Pilot Project

May 3, 2021

            SUMMARY

1. Where Do We Stand?

We must fend off any last-minute efforts by the corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies, over the last days before Toronto City Council gets to vote on this issue at the Wednesday, May 5, 2021 meeting. Those corporate lobbyists want to delay the vote and drag out this issue so they can continue their backroom lobbying at City Hall. We call on all members of City Council to oppose any such stalling tactics.

Several important developments overwhelmingly support our call for City Council to say no to e-scooters on May 5, 2021, and to say no to holding a pilot project on e-scooters:

  1. Last month, City staff submitted an excellent, detailed, well-researched report on e-scooters. It recommends that Toronto should not lift the ban on e-scooters and should not conduct a pilot project with e-scooters. This is because e-scooters endanger the personal safety of people with disabilities, seniors and others. They would also create serious new accessibility barriers against people with disabilities. There is no option that would eliminate these serious dangers.
  1. Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee twice passed unanimous recommendations that Toronto not allow e-scooters at all, on February 3, 2020 and February 25, 2021. Both times, that Committee made those recommendations after receiving deputations from the public.
  1. The City staff report and recommendation was unanimously supported on April 28, 2021 by the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee. That unanimous vote came after the Committee heard from an impressive number of deputations, including many from Toronto’s disability community. Those people with disabilities and disability organizations strongly and unanimously called for Toronto to retain the ban on e-scooters that is now the law, and for Toronto not to conduct a pilot project. Over and over, serious fears were voiced about the additional dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities and seniors, beyond the great number of barriers they already face when trying to get around in Toronto. In recent years, Toronto has gotten less accessible, not more accessible, deputants said.
  1. E-scooters are also bad for the business community. Below we set out the excellent written submission in opposition to e-scooters that was sent to the City of Toronto from the Broadview Danforth Business Improvement Area BIA, speaking for small businesses in the Danforth area.
  1. As well, e-scooters are bad for Toronto residents more generally. The Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations spoke in opposition to e-scooters at the April 28, 2021 Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee. Below we set out that Federation’s April 27, 2021 written submission to the City of Toronto.

We still don’t know where Toronto Mayor John Tory stands on this issue. For months he has said he’s waiting for a City staff report. Well, now he has that report. It gives a clear and strong recommendation not to conduct a pilot project with e-scooters due to their dangers. We call on him to follow the City staff recommendation for which he has been waiting.

2. What Will the E-scooter Rental Corporate Lobbyists Try Now?

With things not looking good for them, we anticipate that e-scooter corporate lobbyists are now unleashing a last-ditch effort to get the access they seek to the Toronto market. Their last-minute strategy appears to be to ask City Council to direct that City staff conduct more research on the disability accessibility concerns regarding e-scooters. It is clear that this is just a stalling tactic, to give those corporate lobbyists more time to infest City Hall with even more of their well-financed back room lobbying efforts.

We are reaching out to all members of Toronto City Council to warn them of this tactic, and to ask them to oppose any effort to delay a May 5, 2021 Toronto City Council vote on the City staff recommendations regarding e-scooters. For example, below we set out the AODA Alliance ‘s May 2, 2021 letter emailed to Toronto Mayor John Tory.

We are telling members of Toronto City Council that any effort to delay the vote to get more research done is bogus. City staff have been very thorough. There is nothing more to research. No one from the disability community has been asking for more such research. The e-scooter corporate lobbyists have not approached those of us advocating from the disability perspective, to identify any further research that they say is needed, or to ask if we see any need for further research.

City staff were assigned to further research this issue back on July 28, 2020. That was nine months ago. They did what they were assigned to do. If anyone wanted to bring more to their attention or ask for more research, they had ample chance to do so before now.

How do we know this is the strategy of the corporate lobbyists? Some of them publicly sought such delays in their deputations to the April 28, 2021 meeting of the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee.

As well, at the April 28, 2021 Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, Councillor Paul Ainslie urged that instead of there being a vote now on the City staff report, City staff should be directed to do another five months of research on the accessibility concerns regarding e-scooters from the disability community. Commendably, the Committee did not take up that bad idea. It voted instead unanimously to support the City staff recommendation. No one on the Committee spoke in favour of Councillor Ainslie’s disturbing and inappropriate proposal. Councillor Ainslie is not a member of that Committee.

We were taken aback by Councillor Ainslie’s April 28, 2021 effort to delay a vote on the City staff e-scooter recommendation. As noted above, all the April 28, 2021 deputants from the Toronto disability community strongly supported the ban on e-scooters. None asked for more research. None suggested that there is any more research that is needed.

Moreover, Councillor Ainslie himself did not reach out to us or, to our knowledge, to any other disability organizations doing advocacy on this issue, in advance of his effort at the April 28, 2021 Infrastructure and Environment Committee. He did not ask us if there is any more research needed, or whether we supported the idea of a delay in the vote so that more research could be done. We have contacted all members of Toronto City Council over the past months to raise our concerns regarding e-scooters.

After he tried to get the e-scooters issue delayed for five months at the April 28, 2021 Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee, we immediately reached out to Councillor Ainslie to ask if we could speak about this. He has not agreed to do so. We wrote Councillor Ainslie a detailed letter via email on May 2, 2021, which we set out below.

For more background, check out the AODA Alliance’s March 30, 2021 brief to the City of Toronto on e-scooters, the AODA Alliance video on why e-scooters are so dangerous (which media can use in any reports), and the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page.

            MORE DETAILS

 April 26, 2021 Submission from Broadview Danforth Business Improvement Area Regarding Electric Scooters

April 26, 2021

TO:         Infrastructure and Environment Committee Clerk

FROM:  The Broadview Danforth BIA

RE:         Item: IE21.7 Pilot Project: Electric Kick-Scooters

 

I’m writing on behalf of the 355 business members in the Broadview Danforth BIA to support the recommendation being made by the General Manager, Transportation Services to decline the option to participate in O.Reg 389/19 Pilot Project for Electric Kick-Scooters. Our comments below can be shared with the Infrastructure and Environment Committee – meeting on April 28, 2021.

We have reviewed the components related to this proposed pilot project and have serious concerns that it would be very difficult to implement in a manner consistent with public safety and order.

Following a presentation made by Janet Lo from Transportation Services to BIAs, our key concerns are as follows:

  • Safety issues related to people with disabilities who use our sidewalks and wouldn’t be able to safely continue doing so if e-scooters were allowed on sidewalks.
  • Safety issues related to all people using sidewalks – the potential of e- scooters being left on the sidewalks or tied to benches, tree guards etc. and falling over will lead to potential tripping hazards.
  • Lack of clarity on insurance coverage for riders, e-scooter rental companies and the general public who may be injured by e-scooter riders.
  • Lack of City/police resources to enforce any kind of e-scooter laws. At the moment we have cyclists improperly using the roads and bike lanes and enforcement is almost non-existent. It’s impossible to believe that enforcement will be available for e-scooters.
  • Our businesses are fighting for their survival during this pandemic and the last thing we need is for customers to feel unsafe using our sidewalks.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our feedback on this issue.

Albert Stortchak Board Chair

Broadview Danforth BIA

April 27, 2021 Written Submission on E-Scooters to the City of Toronto from the Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations

April 27, 2021

10th floor, West Tower, City Hall 100 Queen Street West Toronto, ON M5H 2N2 Attention: Matthew Green

Re: IE21.7 – E-scooters – Accessibility and Insurance Issues

Dear Councillor Jennifer McKelvie, Chair, and Members of Infrastructure and

Environment Committee,

FoNTRA represents over 30 residents associations in Midtown, North Toronto and North York. We strongly support the staff report analysis and recommendation, dated April 14, 2021. We continue to have serious concerns with the proposal, consistent with our comments submitted in regard to the earlier staff report on this important matter.1

We appreciate the extensive research and stakeholder consultations now being reported on by Transportation Services Division staff, including the learning from other jurisdictions with more experience on the matter. Experiments in large cities such as Chicago, New York, London, and Amsterdam, which have comparable population size and density to Toronto, point to many unresolved issues associated with the use of e-scooters. The experience of e-scooter-associated issues in those cities are more likely to be similar and relevant, than that of smaller cities like Ottawa and Calgary. However, we note that even Ottawa, one of those smaller cities, has banned e-scooters from its most popular destination, the Byward Market, and from National Capital Commission walkways and paths.

The staff report outlines in detail the unique risk factors associated with Toronto’s existing public infrastructure – both road and sidewalk design – that did not contemplate the addition of e-scooters. These include:

  • Risks to public safety
  • Risks to public health
  • Impacts on the vulnerable, seniors and people with disabilities • Community nuisance
  • Burden and costs to health care resources
  • Liability and cost to the City

1 (July 8, 2020) Letter from Geoff Kettel and Cathie Macdonald, Co-Chairs, Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations (IE.New.IE14.10.10) (http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/ie/comm/communicationfile-108188.pdf)

  • Lack of available medical and disability coverage for e-scooter users and non-users when injured

For example, some of the key concerns related to these risks that have not been resolved:

  • • additional barriers created for pedestrians and persons with disabilities who use sidewalks out of necessity, especially people living with no vision/low vision, users of mobility assistive devices, or older adults encountering illegal sidewalk riding or poorly parked e-scooters;
  • • significant challenges and difficulties with enforcing moving violations (i.e., lack of policing resources to witness/enforce illegal e-scooter use on sidewalks, ‘hit and runs’, and the inability to identify the e-scooter rider); and
  • • how someone injured by an e-scooter rider or trip hazard caused by an improperly parked e-scooter would be compensated for damages (i.e. rehabilitation, lost wages, and medical costs).
  • • e-scooters tend to replace bike share programs, and would certainly make walking less safe.

FONTRA supports alternative modes of transportation, especially climate friendly modes that reduce GHG emissions; however we believe that devoting increased City resources to improving pedestrian and biking infrastructure would provide more benefit, and safer transportation to more of the City’s population, than e-scooters, and without the increased risks and costs associated with them.

FoNTRA recommends:

  • that Planning and Housing Committee recommend to City Council that it decline the option to participate in O.Reg 389/19 – Pilot Project – Electric Kick-Scooters

Yours truly,

Geoff Kettel Co-Chair, FoNTRA

gkettel@gmail.com

Cathie Macdonald Co-Chair, FoNTRA

cathie.macdonald@sympatico.ca

Cc: Barbara Gray, General Manager, Transportation Services Division

Elyse Parker, Director, Policy and Innovation, Transportation Services Division Janet Lo, Senior Project Manager, Transportation Services Division

The Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations (FoNTRA) is a non-profit, volunteer organization comprised of over 30 member organizations. Its members, all residents’ associations, include at least 170,000 Toronto residents within their boundaries. The residents’ associations that make up FoNTRA believe that Ontario and Toronto can and should achieve better development. Its central issue is not whether Toronto will grow, but how. FoNTRA believes that sustainable urban regions are characterized by environmental balance, fiscal viability, infrastructure investment and social renewal.

 May 2, 2021 Letter from AODA Alliance to Toronto Mayor John Tory

May 2, 2021

To: Toronto Mayor John Tory

Via email: mayor_tory@toronto.ca

Dear Mayor Tory,

At the Wednesday, May 5, 2021 meeting of Toronto City Council, a vote is expected on whether Toronto should lift the ban on e-scooters. A City staff report recommends that Toronto not lift the ban on e-scooters, and not conduct a pilot project with e-scooters. We strongly agree.

We write to ask if you will vote to approve the City staff recommendation, and to urge you to do so. The excellent, thorough City staff report is based on extensive, impartial, professional research and investigation. It fully explored all sides of the issue. E-scooter corporate lobbyists were given a full and fair opportunity to give input, and to respond to concerns that have been raised about e-scooters.

Mayor Tory, you have been saying for over a year that you were waiting for a report from City staff before taking a position on whether to lift the ban on e-scooters in Toronto. You now have received that City staff report. It is clear and unambiguous. We Will you now act on that City staff advice for which you have been waiting?

Further showing why you should approve that report, the City staff report and recommendation was unanimously supported on April 28, 2021 by the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee. That unanimous vote came after the Committee heard from an impressive number of deputations, include many from Toronto’s disability community. Those people with disabilities and disability organization strongly and unanimously called for Toronto to retain the ban on e-scooters that is now the law, and for Toronto not to conduct a pilot project. Over and over, serious fears were voiced about the additional dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities and seniors, beyond the great number of barriers they already face when trying to get around in Toronto.

Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee twice passed unanimous recommendations that Toronto not allow e-scooters at all, on February 3, 2020 and February 25, 2021. Both times, that Committee made those recommendations after receiving deputations from the public.

You should also support the City staff report because it has received endorsements from the local business and residents’ association perspectives. The Danforth Business Improvement Area’s written submission to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee called for e-scooters to be banned, and supported the City staff report. A local residents’ association took the same position in an oral deputation to that Committee on April 28, 2021.

As you know, the core pressure for Toronto to allow e-scooters comes from the corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies. We have fully documented the feeding frenzy of corporate lobbying with which they have been inundating City Hall. Several members of City Council have observed that this is the largest corporate lobbyist campaign now underway at City Hall. One can only imagine how much money they are spending to wage their campaign

Our March 30, 2021 brief to the City of Toronto further details the dangers that e-scooters present for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. It also shows that the arguments that the e-scooter corporate lobbyists present are entirely unpersuasive. They often are inaccurate or misleading.

We anticipate that those e-scooter corporate lobbyists are now unleashing a last-ditch effort to get access they seek to Toronto. Their last-minute strategy appears to be to ask City Council to direct that City staff conduct more research on the disability accessibility concerns regarding e-scooters. It is clear that this is a stalling tactic, to give those corporate lobbyists more time to infest City Hall with even more of their back room lobbying efforts.

Please oppose any effort to delay a May 5, 2021 Toronto City Council vote on the City staff recommendations regarding e-scooters. Any effort to delay the vote to get more research done is bogus. City staff have been very thorough. There is nothing more to research. No one from the disability community has been asking for more such research. The e-scooter corporate lobbyists have not approached those of us advocating from the disability perspective, to identify any further research that they say is needed, or to ask if we see any need for further research. City staff were assigned this further research on July 28, 2020, nine months ago.

At the April 28, 2021 Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, Councillor Paul Ainslie urged that instead of there being a vote now on the City staff report, City staff should be directed to do another five months of research on the accessibility concerns regarding e-scooters from the disability community. Commendably, the Committee did not take up that idea. It voted instead unanimously to support the City staff recommendation. No one on the Committee spoke in favour of Councillor Ainslie’s proposal. Councillor Ainslie is not a member of that Committee.

We were taken aback by Councillor Ainslie’s April 28, 2021 effort to delay a vote on the City staff e-scooter recommendation. As noted above, all the April 28, 2021 deputants from the Toronto disability community strongly supported the ban on e-scooters. None asked for more research, or suggested that there is any more research that is needed.

Councillor Ainslie did not reach out to us or, to our knowledge, to any other disability organizations doing advocacy on this issue, in advance of his effort at the April 28, 2021 Infrastructure and Environment Committee. He did not ask us if there is any more research needed, or whether we supported the idea of a delay in the vote so that more research could be done. We immediately reached out to Councillor Ainslie to ask if we could speak about this. He has not agreed to do so.

On May 5, 2021, please vote to approve the ban on e-scooters, and not to conduct a pilot project. Please vote against any effort to stall this issue, and to drag it out. People with disabilities have been through enough hardship during this COVID-19 pandemic. Please free us from the lurking fear that we will face the dangers to our safety and accessibility against which the City staff report, the unanimous Infrastructure and Environment Committee and the unanimous Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee all warned. Please stand up for people with disabilities and stand up to the well-financed, well-connected e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

Please stay safe.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont

Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Twitter: @davidlepofsky

 May 2, 2021 Letter from AODA Allianceto Toronto City Councillor Paul Ainslie

May 2, 2021

To Toronto City Councillor Paul Ainslie

Via email: councillor_ainslie@toronto.ca

Twitter: @cllrainslie

Dear Councillor Ainslie,

At the Wednesday, May 5, 2021 meeting of Toronto City Council, a vote is expected on whether Toronto should lift the ban on e-scooters. As you know, a City staff report recommends that Toronto not lift the ban on e-scooters, and not conduct a pilot project with e-scooters. We strongly agree with that report.

We write to ask if you will vote to approve the City staff recommendation, and to urge you to do so. The excellent, thorough City staff report is based on extensive, impartial, professional research and investigation. It fully explored all sides of the issue. E-scooter corporate lobbyists were given a full and fair opportunity to give input, and to respond to concerns that have been raised about e-scooters.

The City staff report and recommendation was unanimously supported on April 28, 2021 by the Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee. That unanimous vote came after the Committee heard from an impressive number of deputations, include many from Toronto’s disability community. Those people with disabilities and disability organization strongly and unanimously called for Toronto to retain the ban on e-scooters that is now the law, and for Toronto not to conduct a pilot project. Over and over, serious fears were voiced about the additional dangers that e-scooters pose to people with disabilities and seniors, beyond the great number of barriers they already face when trying to get around in Toronto.

Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee twice passed unanimous recommendations that Toronto not allow e-scooters at all, on February 3, 2020 and February 25, 2021. Both times, that Committee made those recommendations after receiving deputations from the public.

You should also support the City staff report because it has received endorsements from the local business and residents’ association perspectives. The Danforth Business Improvement Area’s written submission to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee called for e-scooters to be banned, and supported the City staff report. A local residents’ association took the same position in an oral deputation to that Committee on April 28, 2021.

As you also know, the core pressure for Toronto to allow e-scooters comes from the corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies. We have fully documented the feeding frenzy of corporate lobbying with which they have been inundating City Hall. Several members of City Council have observed that this is the largest corporate lobbyist campaign now underway at City Hall. One can only imagine how much money they are spending to wage their campaign

Our March 30, 2021 brief to the City of Toronto further details the dangers that e-scooters present for people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. It also shows that the arguments that the e-scooter corporate lobbyists present are entirely unpersuasive. They often are inaccurate or misleading.

Those e-scooter corporate lobbyists are no doubt now unleashing a last-ditch effort to get access that they seek to the Toronto market. Their last-minute strategy appears to be to ask City Council to direct that City staff conduct more research on the disability accessibility concerns regarding e-scooters. It is clear that this is a stalling tactic, to give those corporate lobbyists more time to infest City Hall with even more of their back room lobbying efforts.

Please oppose any effort to delay a May 5, 2021 Toronto City Council vote on the City staff recommendations regarding e-scooters. Any effort to delay the vote to get more research done is bogus. City staff have been very thorough. There is nothing more to research. No one from the disability community has been asking for more such research. The e-scooter corporate lobbyists have not approached those of us advocating from the disability perspective, to identify any further research that they say is needed, or to ask if we see any need for further research. Had there been any need for further research, they could have identified it weeks or months ago. City staff were assigned this further research on July 28, 2020, nine months ago.

We were deeply troubled by the fact that at the April 28, 2021 Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, you urged that instead of there being a vote now on the City staff report, City staff should be directed to do another five months of research on the accessibility concerns regarding e-scooters from the disability community. Commendably, the Committee did not take up your proposal.

You are not a member of that Committee. It is very good that the Infrastructure and Environment Committee unanimously voted instead to support the City staff recommendation. No one on the Committee spoke in favour of your delay proposal.

We were taken aback by your unexpected April 28, 2021 effort to delay a vote on the very commendable City staff e-scooter recommendations. As noted above, all the April 28, 2021 deputants from the Toronto disability community strongly supported the ban on e-scooters. None asked for more research, or suggested that there is any more research that is needed.

Before that meeting, you did not reach out to us or, to our knowledge, to any other disability organizations advocating on this issue, in advance of your effort at the April 28, 2021 Infrastructure and Environment Committee. You did not ask us if there is any more research needed, or whether we supported the idea of a delay in the vote so that more research could be done.

Via Twitter, we immediately reached out to you on April 28, 2021 to ask if we could speak with you about this. You and your staff have not agreed to do so or responded to that request.

Please do not try at the May 5, 2021 City Council meeting to delay a decision on the City staff report. Please do not take steps that will hurt people with disabilities. Please do not invoke accessibility for people with disabilities as a reason for trying to delay this vote. Such a delay would only serve the interests of the well-financed and well-connected e-scooter corporate lobbyists. It would hurt vulnerable people with disabilities.

On May 5, 2021, please vote to approve the ban on e-scooters, and not to conduct a pilot project. Please vote against any effort to stall this issue, and to drag it out. People with disabilities have been through enough hardship during this COVID-19 pandemic. Please free us from the lurking fear that we will face the dangers to our safety and accessibility against which the City staff report, the unanimous Infrastructure and Environment Committee and the unanimous Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee all warned. Please stand up for people with disabilities and stand up to the well-financed, well-connected e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

Stay safe.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont

Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

Twitter: @davidlepofsky