ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Will Ottawa City Council Today Green-Light a 3rd Pilot with Electric Scooters, Using Vulnerable People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others as Unwilling Guinea Pigs, Even Though E-Scooters Have Been Proven in Ottawa to Endanger Their Safety and Accessibility?
March 23, 2022 Toronto: Today, Ottawa City Council is scheduled to debate and decide whether to use vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others as unwilling guinea pigs in a third e-scooters pilot project. It would again unleash dangerous e-scooters in public places. Ottawa City Council needs to stand up for people with disabilities, and to stand up to the relentless corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies who profit from their deployment in Ottawa. The meeting starting at 10 am, is streamed live at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUR3i_hvk3-3i8vtrPg6v1Q
The 2020 and 2021 Ottawa pilots produced overwhelming proof that e-scooters endangered people with disabilities, seniors, children and others. A silent menace, e-scooters, appearing out of nowhere, were ridden on sidewalks in Ottawa and other cities that ban them from sidewalks. Uninsured, unlicensed, untrained, unhelmeted joy-riders, racing at 20 KPH, endanger the safety of innocent pedestrians, especially people who can’t see them coming or quickly dodge them. Left strewn on Ottawa sidewalks, e-scooters have been tripping hazards for blind people, and an accessibility nightmare for wheelchair users.
According to Ottawa’s own survey, 83% of respondents encountered mis-parked e-scooters. 79% encountered e-scooters illegally ridden on sidewalks. The AODA Alliance had warned the Ottawa mayor’s office of these dangers the night before City Council voted to approve the first e-scooter pilot back in 2020. The mayor’s office ignored these dangers.
Last month, Ottawa’s City-appointed Accessibility Advisory Committee strongly recommended that Ottawa not again allow e-scooters. Disability organizations and every speaker with disabilities presenting at Council’s committees opposed e-scooters, fearing injuries. Montreal rejected e-scooters after a pilot. Despite a corporate lobbyists’ feeding frenzy, Toronto City Council unanimously said no to e-scooters.
Also, despite overwhelming evidence against e-scooters, Ottawa City Staff, cheerleading for e-scooters, have shown insufficient concern for disability barriers. They parrot the e-scooter corporate lobbyists’ inflated sales pitch.
In the face of these dangers, it was wrong for Ottawa’s Transportation Committee to endorse a third e-scooter pilot at its March 2nd meeting. E-scooter corporate lobbyists promise unproven spiffy new technology on their e-scooters, to magically prevent these safety dangers. Ottawa should not trust their bloated claims!
It was also wrong for that Transportation Committee to fail to effectively accommodate AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s blindness at that meeting. This impeded his effectiveness when making a deputation there against e-scooters. Lepofsky has filed a complaint with Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner.
It’s wrong to give City staff a blank check to green light a pilot if they like these unproven new gadgets. It’s wrong for Ottawa’s City staff and Transportation Committee to approve using Ottawa residents, including people with disabilities, seniors, and others, as unwilling guinea pigs to test out corporate lobbyists’ sales pitch.
There are news reports from around the world documenting very serious injuries that e-scooters have caused. In the latest fatality earlier this week, a teenager was killed in London England while riding an e-scooter.
City Council should just say no to e-scooters. It should tell City staff not to come back with a proposal, unless this promised technology has been independently and thoroughly proven to eliminate dangers to people with disabilities and others.
As an example of City staff’s absurd solutions that marginalize the safety of people with disabilities, while purporting to show concern for this, they recommend that e-scooters have braille contact information for reporting complaints. Blind people can’t read braille on an e-scooter, racing by on a sidewalk. If they trip over an e-scooter, abandoned on the sidewalk, they are not about to grope around to see if there’s braille on it. Ottawa staff advanced this recommendation even after being shown its obvious absurdity.
Ottawa has too many barriers impeding people with disabilities. It should not knowingly create more barriers, giving e-scooter corporate lobbyists an undeserved third kick at the can.
Read the AODA Alliance’s March 6, 2022 letter to Ottawa City Council and AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky’s March 20, 2022 complaint to the Ottawa Integrity Commissioner