ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toronto Must Not Endanger Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others by Legalizing Electric Scooters, According to Open Letter to City Council from 21 Disability and Community Organizations
October 25, 2023 Toronto: Twenty-one disability and community organizations today sent a strong open letter to Mayor Olivia Chow and City Council (set out below), calling on Toronto not to lift the ban on riding electric-scooters (e-scooters) in public. They urge Toronto to enforce the ban, which so many people now violate with impunity.
E-scooters endanger safety and accessibility for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others, according to community organizations that reflect the needs of a wide spectrum of disabilities, such as people who are blind, people with physical and mobility disabilities, people with intellectual disabilities, people with autism, and all pedestrians. Experience in city after city shows that the silent menace of e-scooters endangers public safety in places allowing them. Riders and innocent pedestrians are too often seriously injured or killed. E-scooters especially endanger vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.
Blind people don’t know when silent e-scooters rocket at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmetted, fun-seeking joyriders. Often left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are dangerous tripping hazards for blind people and accessibility nightmares for wheelchair users.
Two years ago, after an exhausting campaign by Torontonians with disabilities, Toronto City Council unanimously voted on May 5, 2021 to maintain the ban on e-scooters in Toronto. However, this summer, an effort was mounted by a few on city Council to re-open this issue and push Toronto to allow e-scooters, despite their proven dangers to people with disabilities, seniors and others.
On July 19, 2023, Toronto City Council directed City staff to study the issue and to bring a report forward next year on the entire field of micro-mobility, including e-scooters. City Council did not then vote to lift the ban on e-scooters.
In 2021, Toronto City staff submitted a strong and exhaustive report to City Council recommending against allowing e-scooters because of their dangers, the lack of any effective way to regulate their use, and their costs to the taxpayer. At the July 19, 2023 Toronto City Council meeting, City staff did not change their earlier position. They reiterated that Toronto Public Health still supports the ban on e-scooters. In 2020 and 2021, Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, a mandatory legislated body, twice recommended in strong terms that Toronto not allow e-scooters in public.
Torontonians with disabilities will continue their tenacious campaign. They will oppose any removal or reduction of the ban on e-scooters. They will press for law enforcement to effectively enforce that ban.
For more background, check out:
The AODA Alliance website’s e-scooter page.
October 25, 2023 Open Letter to Toronto Mayor Chow and City Council
October 25, 2023
To: Mayor Olivia Chow and Members of Toronto City Council
100 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Dear Mayor and Members of Toronto City Council,
Re: Protecting Vulnerable People with Disabilities and Seniors in Toronto from the Dangers Posed by Electric Scooters
On May 5, 2021, implementing a strong recommendation from Toronto City staff, Toronto City Council unanimously voted not to allow electric scooters (e-scooters) to be ridden in public places in Toronto, whether the e-scooters are rented or privately owned. The undersigned organizations and groups call on Toronto City Council to leave that ban in place. Toronto should not conduct any sort of “pilot” with e-scooters. It should instead take all steps needed to effectively ensure that e-scooters are not ridden in public places, a ban that to date has not been effectively enforced.
An e-scooter is a motor vehicle that a person rides while standing up. It can be very quickly throttled up to fast speeds of 24 KPH or faster. It is silent even when ridden at fast speeds.
Experience in city after city shows that e-scooters, a silent menace, endanger public safety. Riders and innocent pedestrians get seriously injured or killed. E-scooters especially endanger seniors and people with disabilities, who are vulnerable to high speed of an e-scooter and unable to get themselves out of harms way. People who are blind, have low vision, or Deafblind, can’t know when silent e-scooters rocket at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, fun-seeking joyriders, who often are not wearing a helmet. When left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are dangerous tripping hazards for people who are blind or partially sighted, and accessibility barriers to a clear path for wheelchair users.
It does not protect the public to ban e-scooters only from sidewalks. E-scooters are frequently ridden on sidewalks in cities where they are banned from sidewalks. With its unsolved deficit, Toronto has more pressing priorities.
Claims that new technology will prevent e-scooters from ever being ridden or parked on sidewalks are unproven. Toronto should not subject people with disabilities, seniors and others to being guinea pigs in an involuntary public experiment on them, to test out those claims. Even if that technology had existed, it would NOT protect anyone from the same dangers posed by privately owned and illegally ridden e-scooters that have no such technology.
Toronto has more pressing budget priorities. City staff have not recommended to Toronto City Council that the ban on e-scooters be reopened or that Toronto conduct an e-scooter pilot. They did not suggest from their ongoing monitoring of this issue that new technology prevents the proven dangers that e-scooters present. In 2021, City staff submitted an excellent, detailed, thoroughly researched report to City Council that recommended against Toronto conducting an e-scooter pilot. At the June 28, 2023 Infrastructure and Environment Committee meeting, Toronto City staff did not rescind that earlier position. City staff told the Infrastructure and Environment Committee that the Toronto Medical Officer of Health has not altered their opposition to Toronto conducting an e-scooter pilot.
The driving reason why City Council unanimously voted against allowing e-scooters two years ago was the strong objection from the disability/seniors’ community. At meeting after meeting of committees of the Toronto City Council over the past several years where this issue has come up, all debutants from the disability and seniors’ communities have told Toronto not to lift the ban on e-scooters. Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee has twice unanimously recommended against Toronto allowing e-scooters.
Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Ontario Human Rights Code, Toronto is required to remove barriers impeding people with disabilities, and to prevent the creation of new disability barriers. It would knowingly create new disability barriers for Toronto to allow e-scooters, whether privately owned or rented, to be ridden in public places, whether permanently or in a pilot project.
We agree that it is important to reduce traffic in Toronto, and to fight against climate change. Endangering people with disabilities, seniors and others with the silent menace of e-scooters does not effectively contribute to either of these important goals. There are many other more effective ways to advance those goals, without endangering Toronto’s most vulnerable residents and visitors.
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
- Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
- Accessibility Hamilton Alliance
- Ontario parents of Visually Impaired Children
- Accessible Housing Network
- Spinal Cord Injury Ontario
- Walk Toronto
- Centre for Independent Living in Toronto CILT
- Autism Ontario
- March of Dimes Canada
- Guide Dog Users of Canada
- Citizens with Disabilities Ontario CWDO
- Canadian Council of the Blind Toronto VisionariesChapter15
- Ontario Autism Coalition
- ARCH Disability Law Centre
- Community Living Toronto
- Ontario Disability Coalition
- Balance for Blind Adults
- Easter Seals Ontario
- DeafBlind Ontario Services