Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Today Is the AODA Movement’s 25th Birthday! – Watch Our Movement’s Latest Interview on TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Any Time on YouTube – and – Toronto Star Runs Very Troubling Editorial that Wrongly Applauds the Ford Government’s Unleashing Electric Scooters on Ontarians, Despite their Proven Dangers to Safety and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities
November 29, 2019
1. A Quarter-Century of Tenacious Advocacy Started on this Date in 1994
Twenty-five years ago today, a group of some twenty people with disabilities spontaneously gathered in a meeting room at Queen’s Park, feeling that they had to do something. The “something” that they did was to create a new and enduring grassroots non-partisan movement to campaign for strong accessibility legislation in Ontario.
Twenty-five years later, we have a lot to show for our efforts, but a lot more that we need to accomplish. Next Tuesday, on December 3, 2019, the International Day for People with Disabilities, we will have more to say about the past 25 years and about the future that we must create. For today, however, we encourage you to remember–or learn for the first time–about how it all got started and to reflect on where we need to go.
You can read about the events that led up to the birth of Ontario’s enduring disability accessibility movement by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/come-to-a-birthday-party-on-december-3-2019-the-international-day-for-people-with-disabilities-at-queens-park-to-celebrate-the-25th-anniversary-of-the-birth-of-the-non-partisan-grassroots-movemen/
You can watch a captioned one-hour video of the celebration we held on November 28, 2014, the 20th anniversary of the birth of the AODA movement
2. Watch on YouTube the Interview on TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Reflecting on the 25th Anniversary of the AODA Movement
Did you miss the live broadcast of the November 28, 2019, edition of TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin”? It included an interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky and expert accessibility consultant Thea Kurdi. No worries! You can watch it anytime on YouTube. Encourage others to do the same.
We understand that TVO typically takes a few days to upload its captioning for these interviews. It may be available now only with YouTube’s less reliable automated captioning.
Encourage others to watch the video, including your Member of the Ontario Legislature. Encourage your local media to cover this too! That interview was taped the day before the Ford Government announced its new regulation permitting electric scooters in Ontario, despite their proven dangers to safety and accessibility for people with disabilities.
3. A Painful Irony on Our 25th Birthday! A Very Disturbing Toronto Star Editorial Today Applauds the Ford Government’s Unleashing Dangerous E-scooters on Ontarians When it Should Have Condemned Them
Regrettably, we can never rest when it comes to advocating for accessibility for people with disabilities! It is a painful though undoubtedly an inadvertent irony that today, the 25th anniversary of the AODA movement, is when the Toronto Star ran a very troubling editorial, set out below. It applauds the Ford Government’s decision to unleash e-scooters on Ontario, despite their dangers to safety and accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities. This is a very disturbing departure from the Star’s long and commendable tradition of strongly supporting our accessibility cause.
We encourage everyone to write a letter to the editor at the Toronto Star to take issue with this editorial. Below we set out the letter to the editor that AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has already sent to the Toronto Star. We hope the Star will include it in both the hard copy and online version of the paper.
We also set out below the November 28, 2019 report in the Toronto Star on the Ford Government’s e-scooter announcement, and the November 27, 2019 report on this topic in the Mississauga News. The Star made a general reference to disability concerns, while the Mississauga News quoted the AODA Alliance.
We will keep up pressure on the Ford Government to get them to rein in its e-scooter plans so that the safety and accessibility of people with disabilities are protected. We have not yet heard back regarding our request earlier this week to meet with Premier Ford. We will also press local municipalities not to expose their communities and people with disabilities who live in them to the safety and accessibility dangers that e-scooters have been proven to pose.
As of this 25th anniversary of our campaign, 302 days have passed since the Ontario Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation that was conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. We are waiting for the Ontario Government to announce a plan to implement that report.
We always welcome your feedback. Write us today or any day at [email protected]
The Toronto Star November 29, 2019
Rules that make sense
The Ford government made the right decision this week in giving municipalities the final say on whether to allow two-wheeled electric scooters on their roadways and what local rules rental companies must follow.
That gives cities like Toronto and Mississauga time to come up with bylaws that can, hopefully, balance the needs of those who want to use e-scooters to commute around town and those who have serious safety concerns about them.
The government got it right, too, for the most part, on the rules the vehicles must operate under in all jurisdictions.
It sensibly reduced the maximum allowable speed to 24 km/h, down from the 32 km/h it originally proposed.
Other smart rules include: no riders under 16, mandatory helmets for riders under 18, no passengers and mandatory bells and lights.
It’s individual cities that will now have to decide the thorny issue of where the scooters can be used – roads, bike lanes or sidewalks. And, just as crucially, where the dockless scooters can be parked.
In cities around the world where e-scooter rentals have already been rolled out, there’s been considerable controversy over the devices that have a tendency to be strewn all over sidewalks and paths, creating tripping hazards. (Montreal has tried to get around that problem by designating parking spots where scooters must be left.)
The province still missed the mark on one major point: Its e-scooter pilot project, which begins Jan. 1, is five years long.
That’s too long considering the problems and safety concerns that have cropped up elsewhere.
Ontario needs to review the results of the pilot sooner than that. And the province and cities need to be ready to pull the plug if e-scooters prove to be a serious danger to pedestrians, especially those with disabilities, and to the users themselves.
Letter to the Toronto Star Editor from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky
Via email: [email protected]
November 29, 2019
The Star was wrong to applaud Doug Ford’s decision to let municipalities pilot electric scooters (Editorial Rules that make sense.) Ford ignored serious safety and accessibility concerns documented by Ontarians with disabilities, by allowing dangerously fast e-scooters on roads, sidewalks and other places. We and others will be exposed to the danger of serious injuries, if not worse. E-scooters will be unforeseeable new barriers blocking the accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities.
As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public. 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 KPH. Ford even lets municipalities allow e-scooters on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians.
Ford says one of his priorities is to “build safer communities.” He claims this regulation makes it easier for people to get around. Yet rental e-scooters, strewn in public places, do the opposite for people with disabilities.
Ford paid lip service to safety and disability accessibility. He created weak, unenforceable provisions to limit how e-scooters are ridden and whether they may be left on sidewalks.
Ford appears to have bowed to e-scooter rental companies. The regulation reads as if their corporate lobbyists wrote it.
We oppose e-scooters. If permitted, provincial laws should require each e-scooter and driver to have a license, a helmet (even if over age 17) and insurance. If an e-scooter is left in a public place like a sidewalk, it should be forfeited and confiscated. E-scooter rental companies should be liable for injuries e-scooters cause, and caps on numbers of e-scooters.
Ontarians with disabilities are disproportionately poor and disadvantaged. We don’t have the resources to fight corporate lobbyists in hundreds of municipalities, to fend off these dangers.
David Lepofsky CM, O.Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
Visiting Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
The Toronto Star, November 28, 2019
Ontario to allow e-scooters on streets in 5-year trial
But province leaves final say to municipalities
David Rider Toronto Star Chief
Electric scooters are quietly gliding closer to becoming a transportation option on GTA streets.
The Ontario government on Wednesday released “broad rules and requirements” for e-scooters, including maximum speed and helmet use, as part of a five-year pilot project beginning Jan. 1.
But the province is leaving the final say to Toronto and other municipalities on allowing and regulating e-scooter sharing services that are slowly spreading across Canada after rapid rollout across the world, including cities that have had them and later banned them.
“It is now up to the municipalities to pass bylaws to allow their use and determine where they can operate most safely in each unique environment,” the transportation ministry said in a new release.
In a video posted on Twitter, MPP Vijay Thanigasalam, parliamentary secretary to Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, rolls up to the camera and calls the devices “a cool new way for people to get from point A to point B in their communities.”
Provincial rules include: no riders under age 16; mandatory helmet use for riders under 18; top speed of 24 km/h, down from 32 km/h in earlier provincial documents; no passengers; a mandatory horn, bell, white light in front and red light in back.
Rules for cities to decide, if they allow the service, include whether riders can go on roads, sidewalks or bike lanes, and the thorny question of where people can leave them when they walk away.
Lime and Bird, the world’s two biggest e-scooter sharing services in the world, are eager to add the biggest city in Canada to their service maps. They
both welcomed the Ontario announcement, saying they await detailed regulations and hope to have Torontonians whizzing around by next spring.
“What Ontario is saying is consistent with other provinces, and the regulatory change will enable cities in Ontario to proceed if they wish to have scooter-share operations in 2020,” said Chris Schafer, a Lime Canada senior executive.
Bird Canada chief executive Stewart Lyons told the Star: “Overall we’re extremely excited that the government is taking this first step for Ontario following in the footsteps of where Alberta and Quebec have gone,” with pilot projects underway on the streets of Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal.
“The feedback from (Toronto) city staff and councillors has been positive, that they want to bring the scooter program to Toronto for next spring.”
At Toronto City Hall, however, Mayor John Tory said his city won’t be rushed into anything. Last month city council voted to ban the e-scooter services until city staff release a report, with recommendations on e-scooter rules, early in 2020.
Tory said his main concerns are safety – Toronto is already dealing with a spike in pedestrian and cyclist deaths, and Calgary saw a rush of people to hospital emergency wards after e-scooters debuted there – and “clutter if there aren’t rules in place and provisions to ensure they are stored properly when not in use.”
Advocates for disabled Ontarians have voiced concerns about e-scooters being left on sidewalks and other places that could block access. The Ontario NDP blasted Premier Doug Ford’s government for failing to address their feedback in the guidelines released Wednesday.
Councillor Paul Ainslie, head of the Toronto’s licensing committee that will receive the e-scooter report, said: “I would appreciate the province working on a number of other areas first – housing, poverty reduction, red-light cameras.”
Mississauga city council in late October tasked staff with a report to come back with recommendations on e-scooter regulations next year.
“Staff are currently looking at a variety of options and models including publicly owned and operated, privately owned and operated as well as mixed publicly and privately owned and operated programs,” said a statement from Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s office.
“We look forward to exploring how we can expand transportation options for our residents while ensuring road safety remains a top priority.”
Edmonton and Calgary’s pilot projects share similar rules, with no helmet requirement and speeds capped at 20 km/h. But Calgary users can glide along sidewalks, something forbidden in Edmonton.
Montreal adopted more rules than the Alberta cities, including designated parking spots where e-scooters must be left, mandatory helmet usage and no sidewalk riding. Authorities there have expressed dismay with riders ignoring the helmet rule.
The e-scooter craze first exploded in the U.S., sometimes in cities caught by surprise when the devices appeared, and quickly spread internationally as a fun and relatively inexpensive way to take short urban trips.
But there has been a backlash and rule tightening, as well as bans in some places. Germany, where scooter regulations passed in June, has reported serious
injuries, impaired riders and one user following his GPS onto a highway.
The council for Elizabeth, N.J., on Tuesday voted to immediately end that city’s e-scooter pilot project after a 16-year-old riding a scooter was struck and killed by a tow truck.
Mississauga News November 27, 2019
Mississauga considering how to encourage bike, e-bike and e-scooter share systems
Province starts 5-year e-scooter pilot in 2020
NEWS Nov 27, 2019 by Steve Cornwell, Mississauga News
Next summer, Mississauga residents and visitors might have a few more options to get around.
City council directed its staff to look at how Mississauga can encourage “micromobility” sharing systems, including e-scooters, e-bikes and bicycles.
The city hopes that the devices could help residents and visitors travel short distances in the downtown core, along the future Hurontario LRT and in Mississauga neighbourhoods like Meadowvale and Lisgar.
According to Matthew Sweet, the city’s active transportation manager, all vehicles, docking systems and operational models are under consideration.
We’re not prescribing the type of vehicle or device at this point,” he said. “Not least because the industry is so fast moving and changing.”
Sweet said the most important aspect for the city is not the device, how it’s parked or whether it’s publicly or privately owned.
“Really the first thing you should think about is how do these systems meet the city’s goals,” he said.
According to a staff report, micromobility systems align with City of Mississauga goals including promoting environmental sustainability and equity by “increasing access to viable transportation options for all.”
The move comes as the province is set to start a five-year pilot allowing e-scooters on Ontario roadways. Municipalities can opt-in to allowing e-scooters after Jan. 1, 2020. Bikes and e-bikes are already allowed on roadways in Ontario.
E-scooters abandoned on sidewalks, roadways and other undesignated parking spots have been an issue in several cities where they’ve launched in North America, including Calgary and Edmonton.
Accessibility advocate and lawyer David Lepofsky said that e-scooters are a “blight” wherever they are deployed and have been a consistent tripping hazard for people with disabilities.
“(E-scooter shares) are a brilliant business model for a company that wants free parking at the taxpayer’s expense,” he said.
Lepofsky is also the volunteer chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance and the group has asked the province to forbid rental e-scooters.
The city staff report from August 2019 recommends that the city accept micromobility sharing systems be introduced in phases and that bikes and e-bikes be favoured over e-scooters for now.
City staff is anticipating the next phase of the micromobility study will be finalized in June 2020.