AODA Alliance Files A Brief to Ontario’s Doug Ford Government, Urging that Ontario Should Not Allow E-scooters


Should Withdraw Its Proposal for a 5-Year E-scooter Pilot Project, Or, If Allowed, Should Ban E-scooter Rentals and Require E-scooters and Their Drivers to Be Licensed and Insured.

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 12, 2019 Toronto: Disability advocates are calling on the Ontario Government to show leadership in protecting the public from personal injuries, and protecting people with disabilities from having new barriers to accessibility created. In a detailed brief (set out below) that was just filed with the Ontario Government under Premier Doug Ford, the AODA Alliance calls for the Government not to allow e-scooters in Ontario, and to withdraw its proposal to hold an excessive 5-year pilot that would allow anyone age 16 and up to ride e-scooters on Ontario roads and bike paths, even if they and the e-scooter are uninsured and have no license. This brief aims to crystalize the most comprehensive case against e-scooters from the disability perspective.

“E-scooters racing at up to 32 KPH will create serious new public safety and disability accessibility problems,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance which spearheads advocacy for accessibility for over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities. “Riding or leaving an e-scooter on a sidewalk should be banned. An e-scooter left on a sidewalk should be immediately forfeited and confiscated. If e-scooters are allowed at all, e-scooter rentals, like those dominating in some US cities, should not be permitted. An e-scooter and its driver should be required to have a license and insurance. Virtually silent e-scooters should be required to audibly beep when in use, to warn pedestrians, including those who are blind, that they are racing towards them.”

The AODA Alliance opposes the idea of permitting e-scooters and then leaving it to municipalities to regulate them. Ontarians with disabilities and others who don’t welcome a risk to their safety should not have to fight separate battles, in one city after the next. Each municipality should not be burdened to clean up the mess that the Province is proposing to create.

Since the AODA Alliance brought this issue to public and media attention two weeks ago, the issue whether to allow e-scooters to expand into Ontario has garnered extensive public attention and media coverage. This has included both local and national coverage, as well as an editorial in the September 9, 2019 Toronto Star. Ontarians need to decide whether they want to repeat the risks to public safety and disability accessibility that have plagued other jurisdictions, or whether Ontario wants to be the master of its own destiny in this regard.

Contact: David Lepofsky, [email protected]
Twitter: @aodaalliance

AODA Alliance Brief to the Ontario Government on Its Proposal to Hold a Five-Year Pilot Project Allowing Electric Scooters in Ontario www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

September 11, 2019

Via Email: [email protected]
To: Ministry of Transportation
Road Safety Policy Office
Safety Policy and Education Branch
87 Sir William Hearst Avenue
Building “A”, Room 212
Toronto, Ontario
M3M 0B4

Re: Proposal 19-MTO026

Introduction

The AODA Alliance submits this brief to the Ontario Government as part of the Government’s short public consultation on its proposal to hold a five-year pilot project to allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ontario. E-scooters are electric motor vehicles which can travel as fast as 32 kilometers per hour or faster. Under the Government’s proposal e-scooters would be allowed to zip at up to 32 kilometers per hour, anywhere a bicycle is allowed, such as our congested roads and bike paths. The Government is not proposing to require the e-scooter owner or driver or vehicle itself to carry insurance, or to have a license. We include as Appendix 1 a list of the recommendations we make throughout this brief. Appendix 2 to this brief is the Government’s original August 28, 2019 online posting that describes its proposed pilot project. Appendix 3 sets out a New York Times article on e-scooters.

In summary, the AODA Alliance strongly opposes the proposed pilot project. This pilot project raises serious safety concerns for the entire public. Ontarians with disabilities are especially vulnerable to this safety risk. Experience in other jurisdictions where e-scooters have been allowed clearly shows that they present serious public safety and disability accessibility problems. Ontario does not need a pilot project to prove this, at the cost of inflicting injuries or even death upon some Ontarians.

The Ford Government repeatedly emphasized that it is focusing on what matters most to Ontarians. Protecting public safety matters most for Ontarians.

E-scooters are unnecessary and should not be permitted in Ontario at all. E-scooters are motor vehicles, pure and simple. At a bare minimum, if they are to be permitted at all despite the serious concerns spelled out in this brief, e-scooters, like other motor vehicles, should have to be licensed. Their drivers should also have to be licensed, only after they have completed needed and specific training. Both the driver and the motor vehicle should have to carry sufficient insurance.

Their other risks should be subject to strict safety regulations. They should be required to emit a beep to enable people with vision loss to know they are coming. Rental of e-scooters should be forbidden. Riding or parking an e-scooter on a sidewalk should be banned, with strong penalties and immediate confiscation of the e-scooter. Regulation of e-scooters might later be reduced only if shown to be justified, and that doing so won’t compromise on public safety and disability accessibility.

The Ontario Government’s proposal to hold a five-year pilot with e-scooters is based on a troubling Government compromise on protecting public safety. If, despite these concerns, Ontario were nevertheless to hold a pilot project with e-scooters, it should be far shorter than five years. It should be restricted to a narrow area, not the entire province, and only with the consent of the community where the pilot is to occur. Very strict regulation of e-scooters should be in place. It is wrong to experiment on people who don’t consent to being in the experiment, especially where their safety is thereby put at risk.

Just because parts of the US and some other jurisdictions have allowed e-scooters does not mean that they are inevitable in Ontario. Ontario can and should control its own destiny. Ontario should not repeat the serious mistakes that other jurisdictions have made. We should not unleash a new problem on Ontarians and then have to figure out how to undo the damage done. Other places have found this is hard to effectively do, when it comes to e-scooters.

Who Are We?

The AODA Alliance has extensive experience with the barriers facing Ontarians with disabilities. Founded in 2005, we are a voluntary, non-partisan, unincorporated grassroots coalition of individuals and community organizations. Our mission is:

“To contribute to the achievement of a barrier-free Ontario for all persons with disabilities, by promoting and supporting the timely, effective, and comprehensive implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.”

To learn about us, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org.

Our coalition is the successor to the non-partisan grassroots Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. The ODA Committee advocated for more than ten years, from 1994 to 2005, for the enactment of strong, effective disability accessibility legislation. Our coalition builds on the ODA Committees work. We draw our membership from the ODA Committee’s broad, grassroots base. To learn about the ODA Committee’s history, visit: http://www.odacommittee.net.

We have been widely recognized by the Ontario Government, by all political parties in the Ontario Legislature, within the disability community and by the media, as a key voice leading the non-partisan campaign for accessibility in Ontario. In every provincial election since 2005, any party that has made election commitments on accessibility has done so in letters to the AODA Alliance. Our efforts and expertise on accessibility for people with disabilities have been recognized in speeches on the floor of the Ontario Legislature, and beyond. Our website and Twitter feed are widely consulted as helpful sources of information on accessibility efforts in Ontario and elsewhere. We have achieved this as an unfunded community coalition.

Beyond our work at the provincial level in Ontario, over the past four years, the AODA Alliance has been active, advocating for strong and effective national accessibility legislation for Canada. Our efforts influenced the development of the Accessible Canada Act. We have been formally and informally consulted by the Federal Government and some federal opposition parties on this issue.

The AODA Alliance has spoken to or been consulted by disability organizations, individuals, and governments from various parts of Canada on disability accessibility issues. For example, we have been consulted by the Government of Manitoba and by Barrier-Free Manitoba (a leading grassroots accessibility advocacy coalition in Manitoba) in the design and implementation of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act 2013. We twice made deputations to a Committee of the Manitoba Legislature on the design of that legislation. We have been consulted by the BC Government on whether to create a BC Disabilities Act, and by Barrier-Free BC in its grassroots advocacy for that desired legislation.

We have also been consulted outside Canada on this topic, most particularly, in Israel and New Zealand. In addition, in June 2016, we presented on this topic at the UN annual international conference of state parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The AODA Alliance played a central role in bringing to the public’s attention its serious concerns about e-scooters over the past two weeks. We have secured extensive media coverage on this issue, including coverage in print, on TV, on the radio, and in social media. This topic has even secured coverage in the CBC’s national radio news. Moreover, a strong Toronto Star editorial on September 9, 2019 echoed some of our major concerns, though it neither referred to the AODA Alliance nor to disability barriers threatened by e-scooters.

The AODA Alliance posted a draft of this brief online and via social media on September 6, 2019 and solicited feedback on it. We have done our best to incorporate that feedback in this finalized brief. We thank all those who sent us their feedback. The overwhelming thrust of that feedback was supportive of our concerns.

The Ontario Government Has an Important Duty to Prevent the Creation of New Disability Barriers

This brief shows that the Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario threatens to create new accessibility barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the Ontario Government has a duty to prevent the creation of new accessibility barriers against Ontarians with disabilities. For example, the AODA requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

As the final report of the most recent Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation, prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley revealed, Ontario is well behind schedule for reaching that goal. The Onley report found that Ontario remains a province full of “soul-crushing barriers”. Barriers in the built environment remain a serious example of this. The creation of any new barriers in the built environment would only make this worse.

The AODA Alliance elsewhere documented that the new Ontario Government has done a poor job of implementing the AODA. For the Government to now take new action, such as this proposed e-scooter pilot project, that would create more disability accessibility barriers, is an especially serious concern.

No Government Should Ever Compromise on Public Safety

We are deeply concerned that the Ontario Government’s proposal of a five-year pilot project with e-scooters in Ontario was arrived at without proper concern for or protection of public safety. As addressed later in this brief, e-scooters are known to present a danger to public safety.

According to a troubling CityTV report, the Doug Ford Government admitted it had compromised between protecting public safety on the one hand, and advancing business opportunities and consumer choice on the other, when it designed its controversial proposal to permit electric scooters in Ontario for a 5-year pilot. The August 30, 2019 City TV television news story that aired in Toronto in the evening news revealed this troubling new information, and included a comment by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on it:

“We reached out to the Ministry of Transportation, who told City News in a statement: the proposed pilot project is another example of how the province is helping businesses expand and give consumers more choice. When asked why the project is set to last a long five years, it said: This proposed time line creates a compromise between road safety and access for businesses and consumers. If approved, the five year pilot will take a measured approach that will promote road safety, foster business innovation and open the Ontario market to this new and growing sector.

But Lepofsky fears the Government is prioritizing business over safety.

(Quotation from David Lepofsky in the news story) “the Government’s obligation is to protect public safety, not to decide, well, we’ll do some compromise between making sure people don’t get hurt and making sure other people can make some more money.”

We therefore call on the Ford Government to put the brakes on this proposal and to ensure that there is no risk to public safety, before even contemplating any pilot project with e-scooters. The Government must never compromise on the safety of the public, such as vulnerable people with disabilities, especially when it does so in the interests of some businesses wishing to expand into Ontario. Public Safety must always come first. Its protection should be unremitting and uncompromising.

Now that it has been revealed that the Government’s ill-conceived pilot project was based on an unacceptable compromise on public safety, the proposed pilot project should be withdrawn. The Government should go back to the drawing board.

E-Scooters Have Been Proven to Present a Safety Threat Both to Innocent Pedestrians and to the E-Scooter Driver Themselves

Our review of media articles and other sources posted on the internet quickly revealed that e-scooters are well-known to and well-documented to have posed a danger of personal injury, and in some cases, even of death. Injuries have been sustained by innocent pedestrians and by the e-scooter drivers themselves.

The AODA Alliance was able to quickly locate this information from a web search. As such, the Ontario Government, engaging in due diligence, should have been able to do the same.

The following is a very brief review of some of what we found, prepared in a hurry due to the Government’s very short public consultation deadline on this issue. We point especially to the article on e-scooters in the September 4, 2019 edition of the New York Times, set out in full as appendix 3 to this brief.

The Washington Post reported on January 11, 2019 that a 75-year-old man in San Diego tripped over an e-scooter. He was taken to hospital, “where X-rays revealed his knee was shattered in four places”. The article quotes Wally Ghurabi, medical director of the Nethercutt Emergency Center at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. Ghurabi said, “I’ve seen pedestrians injured by scooters with broken hips, multiple bone fractures, broken ribs and joint injuries and soft tissue injuries like lacerations and deep abrasions.” The article also reports incidents involving pedestrians in Dallas, where a 32-year-old man was “left with scrapes on his knee and face, as well as a deep gash above his right eye that required seven stitches”, and Cincinnati, where a 44-year-old woman incurred approximately $1000 in medical expenses after being “throw[n]…to the ground” both following collisions with e-scooters.

Euronews reported on June 18, 2019, that Paris intended to implement speed limits and parking restrictions for e-scooters following its first death on an electric scooter. The French transport minister also announced a nationwide ban on e-scooters on sidewalks, effective September. A week prior to the announcements, a 25-year-old man riding an e-scooter had died after being hit by a truck. The report details other incidents, involving both riders and bystanders. In Sweden, a 27-year-old man died in a crash while riding one of the electric vehicles in May. In Barcelona, a 92-year-old woman died in August 2018 after she was run over by an e-scooter making it the first case of a pedestrian being killed by the electric vehicle.

On July 26, 2019, CBC News reported that since e-scooters became available in Calgary, Calgary emergency rooms have seen 60 patients with e-scooter-related injuries. The report added that [a]bout a third of them were fractures and roughly 10 per cent were injuries to the face and head. These figures have triggered a study by the University of Calgary.
The Copenhagen Post reported on August 5, 2019, that a Capital Region release had identified 100 scooter-related injuries this year in Copenhagen. Among those injured were several pedestrians, although it sounds like most of them tripped over discarded scooters. Only one ended up in hospital after being hit by one.
The Guardian reported on August 11, 2019, that Paris had experienced its third e-scooter-related death in four months: A 30-year-old man has been killed after being hit by a motorbike while riding his e-scooter on a French motorway. The report went on to state that [t]he scooter rider was not wearing a helmet and was reportedly travelling in the fast lane when the motorbike hit him from behind, despite the fact that [u]sing scooters on motorways is banned in France. Moreover, The day before the accident, a 27-year-old woman suffered serious head injuries after falling from an e-scooter she was using in a cycle lane in Lyon. A few days earlier a 41-year-old man had been seriously injured after falling from his e-scooter in Lille. Finally, the report provided details on another, earlier e-scooter-related death in France: An 81-year-old man died after he was reportedly knocked over by an e-scooter in Levallois-Perret, a Parisian suburb, in April.
CityNews reported on August 13, 2019, as part of a short survey of European regulations, that German police say seven people have been seriously injured and 27 suffered minor injuries in scooter accidents since mid-June, saying most were due to riders behaving carelessly.
An article entitled “Sharing the sidewalk: A case of E-scooter related pedestrian injury” published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine in June 2019 cites multiple studies corroborating the occurrence of pedestrian injuries: one from Israel found that, while pedestrians were 8.4% of the patients admitted for e-bike- and e-scooter-related injuries, they “were more severely injured; compared to electric scooter riders and electric bike riders, pedestrians have higher rates of head, face, and neck injuries; traumatic brain injuries; and hospital stays lasting more than a week”.

A pilot project with something like e-scooters should only be done if it has a sensible and needed stated purpose, and if it is safe. Given these known public safety problems, there is no need to do a pilot to discover whether e-scooters pose a public safety hazard. Moreover, it is wrong to experiment on human beings without their consent, to find out how much something is a threat to their lives or safety.

Our hospital emergency rooms are already over-burdened. The current Ontario Government promised to end “hallway medicine.” Yet if e-scooters are permitted in public places like roads or bike paths, their workloads will increase. The long waiting periods that patients must now endure at Ontario hospital emergency rooms will only get worse.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #1
There should be no pilot project allowing e-scooters to be driven in public places in Ontario.

Extend the Current Public Consultation

If, despite the foregoing concerns, the Ontario Government plans to continue with the current e-scooter public consultation, it should significantly lengthen it. On Wednesday, August 28, 2019, just two days before the Labour Day long weekend, the Doug Ford Government quietly posted online, for a meager 48-hour public consultation, its proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario for five years, for a trial period. Thankfully we were alerted to this by an AODA Alliance supporter, who was concerned about the safety risk that e-scooters posed for Ontarians with disabilities.

On August 29, 2019, the AODA Alliance quickly swung into action on this helpful tip. So did others, including Balance for Blind Adults and the CNIB. The media showed interest quite quickly. Indeed, the media coverage of our concerns with e-scooters has continued to this day, and has included national radio coverage on CBC.

Within hours, the Ford Government gave some ground, though not all the ground we had requested. Late on Thursday, August 29, 2019, the Government announced that it was extending its consultation on this issue to September 12, 2019.

For the Government to announce a public consultation on the eve of a long weekend is a well-known strategy for rushing forward with a decision to implement something new, without truly consulting the public, while wishing to appear that it has genuinely consulted the public. It is a fair inference to draw that the Government has been and continues to be actively lobbied by companies that rent e-scooters in the U.S. or elsewhere, in order to get the Government to permit them in Ontario. As noted later in this brief, the proposal of an excessively long five -year pilot project suggests an intent to get e-scooters deeply embedded in Ontario, and to make it harder to get them removed or effectively controlled.

It is essential for this consultation process to immediately and substantially slow down. If the Government is not prepared to withdraw its current consultation and go back to the drawing board, with a stronger commitment to protecting public safety, it should at least substantially lengthen the current public consultation period beyond September 12, 2019 For our part, we need more time to try to document the efforts that have been taken elsewhere to reduce or stop the use of e-scooters. Time has not allowed us to cover that here. That is a topic which a Government, engaging in proper due diligence to protect public safety, should have done, and made public, before venturing forward with a public consultation on a possible pilot project with e-scooters.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #2
The Government should withdraw this e-scooter public consultation and go back to the drawing board. If it is not prepared to withdraw this public consultation on e-scooters, the Ontario Government should at least extend the consultation period to October 31, 2019.

Do Not Allow Rental of E-Scooters

It appears that at least in some if not most of the other jurisdictions where e-scooters have been allowed, a very common way that they are used is by companies renting them to the public, rather than by individuals buying them. Of course, the option to buy them was presumably available in those jurisdictions as well. It is reasonable to conclude that the lobbying of the Ford Government that has led to the current proposal for a five-year e-scooter pilot program comes from those big companies known in other jurisdictions to provide e-scooter rentals. See further the September 4, 2019 New York Times article set out in Appendix 3, at the end of this brief, and the September 10, 2019 article in the Toronto Star, quoted later in this brief.

By this rental model, a member of the public gets an app on their phone to sign up for these rentals. E-scooters are left around the city, tagged with a GPS chip. The individual uses the app to find the nearest e-scooter that is available. They pick it up and ride away. They presumably do not go to a store, or deal with anyone directly and in person from the rental company, when they are renting an e-scooter at roadside. When they are finished with the e-scooter, they leave it on a sidewalk, wherever they wish, and walk away. That e-scooter then sits there until another person, using the app, decides to take it away and ride it, leaving it somewhere else, once they are done.

The rental model for e-scooters presents several serious problems. It should be strictly forbidden.

First and foremost, having users randomly leave an e-scooter on a sidewalk or other like public place when they are finished with it creates significant and unpredictable new barriers against people with disabilities. these barriers can instantly pop up anywhere, unannounced, and then vanish before the police could get to the scene.

For people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, they are a serious and unexpected tripping hazard. There is no way to plan a walking route to avoid them. They should not have to face the prospect of e-scooters potentially lying in their path at any time. we have received feedback about concerns with this from people with vision loss elsewhere where e-scooter rentals have been allowed.

As well, leaving an e-scooter randomly on sidewalks presents a serious new accessibility barrier for people who use a wheelchair, walker or other mobility device. For them, an e-scooter can prevent them from being able to continue along an otherwise-accessible sidewalk. They can turn an accessible route of travel into an inaccessible one. Here again, these are entirely unpredictable, since these barriers can pop up in an instant. For people with disabilities using a mobility device, the option of going up on the grass or down onto the road in the path of car traffic, to get around an e-scooter that was abandoned on the sidewalk, may not be accessible, feasible or safe. This is especially so for people with temporary or permanent balance issues.

The sidewalks or other public spaces should not be made available to the private companies who rent e-scooters as free parking spaces, fully subsidized by the taxpayer. Taxpayers paid for the construction and maintenance of sidewalks as a safe place to walk.

It is clear that the desire to have e-scooters left strewn on Ontario sidewalks is central to the desire of at least some businesses who want to offer e-scooters for rental in this province. According to a September 10, 2019 Toronto Star article, the CEO of Bird Canada, one of the private companies that is pressing to rent e-scooters in Ontario conceded that it is central to their business that e-scooters be left on Ontario sidewalks between trips with them. The article included:

“Barring e-scooters from city sidewalks, recommended by a city committee on Monday, would make it impossible to introduce the concept to Toronto, according to the CEO of Bird Canada, an e-scooter company hoping to launch here in the spring of 2020.

“If you can’t park them on the sidewalk and you can’t park them on the street, I guess we’re parking them in the air?” Stewart Lyons said.

“I don’t know where we’re parking them. They can’t fly.”

Lyons was speaking after the city’s infrastructure and environment committee passed a motion that would temporarily prevent e-scooters from occupying sidewalks – at least until city staff can come up with a better plan, expected later this year.

Lyons said being able to park e-scooters on some sidewalks is a key part of the e-scooter program.

He said it would be hard to create enough demand if the scooters can’t be made available to customers right where they live and work, arguing that docking stations, such as those used by the current Bike Share Toronto program, wouldn’t be accessible enough.

Currently, users in cities where shared e-scooter programs are in place can locate scooters near them using an app.”

It would not be good enough for the Government to try to regulate where the scooters are left, e.g. by enacting regulations that e-scooters may not be left to block the sidewalk. This would be very hard to enforce, since police are not on the scene wherever these e-scooters would be left. Our police and courts are already overburdened and do not need e-scooter enforcement to be added to their important workloads. There needs to be a strict ban in place precluding e-scooters ever being left in the sidewalk, given the experiences of which we have learned in other jurisdictions. An e-scooter left on the sidewalk should be simply treated as abandoned and forfeited.

Beyond the foregoing concerns, the rental model presents other safety risks. Under that model, a person could go into a bar, drink to excess, walk outside, look on their smart phone’s e-scooter app, and quickly find a nearby e-scooter to ride. That would expose the public to added risks. As it is, drunk driving is a troubling problem in our society that leads to deaths and serious injuries. Our Government should not expose the public to any more such risks.

Were an intoxicated person to walk into a car rental office and try to rent a car, they would have to deal with a human being, who no doubt would refuse to hand over the car keys. In the case of renting e-scooters via an app, there is no comparable control at the source, such as a salesperson, to refuse to hand over the keys.

It would be unthinkable for a car rental company to simply leave rental cars parked near a bar, with the keys in the car, so that anyone could instantly rent the car and drive it away just by clicking on a smart phone app. The danger to public safety would be obvious and intolerable. The same should go for e-scooters.

It is no answer to say that drunk driving is already illegal. We already know that that drinking and driving laws are too often disobeyed. Innocent people pay the price with permanent injuries or their lives. The Government should not make e-scooters available, increasing that risk.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #3
The rental of e-scooters should be strictly forbidden, even if private ownership of an e-scooter by a user of that e-scooter were to be permitted.

Recommendation #4
There should be a strict ban on leaving an e-scooter in a public sidewalk or like location. If an e-scooter is left in such a place, it should be subject to immediate confiscation and forfeiture, as well as a strict penalty.

Require Beeping Sound from E-Scooters When Powered On

E-scooters are very quiet, if not silent, when being operated. It presents a significant safety risk for a virtually silent e-scooter to be hurtling towards a blind person at 32 kph. This is so whether the e-scooter is being driven on a road, or on a sidewalk) (where they are supposedly not to be permitted). They pose a similar risk to a sighted pedestrian who can hear, but who is not looking in the direction from which the e-scooter is coming. It must be remembered that not every road has a sidewalk.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #5
If e-scooters are to be permitted in Ontario, they should be required to make an ongoing beeping sound when they are powered on, to warn others of their approach.

Reduce the Maximum E-scooter Speed Well Below 32 KPH

The faster an e-scooter goes, the less time its driver or a pedestrian has to avoid a collision. Moreover, the fast the e-scooter goes, the greater the potential harm caused by a collision.

There is no magic reason why an e-scooter should be allowed to travel at 32 KPH, just because e-bikes are allowed to go at that speed.

The Ontario Government should study the options for speed limits from other jurisdictions to determine the safest maximum speed, before embarking on any pilot project. A considerably slower speed limit should be set. It can always be raised later, if that is justified.

We therefore recommend that:
Recommendation #6
The speed limit for e-scooters should initially be set much lower than 32 KPH, such as 15 or 20 KPH, until a strong showing can be made that a higher speed limit poses no safety threat to the public.

Require That an E-scooter Driver Have a License and Proper Training

Because an e-scooter is a motor vehicle which can cause significant personal injuries to innocent pedestrians, a person should be required to get a license before they can drive an e-scooter. To qualify to get a license, a person should have to take appropriate training and show sufficient proficiency, including sufficient knowledge about the rules of the road and the threat to personal injuries that an e-scooter can cause.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #7
A person wishing to drive an e-scooter should be required to first take required training on its safe operation and on the rules of the road, and then to obtain a license.

E-Scooters Should Be Licensed and Display a License Plate Number

It is important for each e-scooter to be licensed, and to display a license plate number, as is required for cars and motorcycles. This will make it far, far easier to enforce the law in case a person, driving an e-scooter, collides with a pedestrian, and then flees the scene. Without such a license requirement, it may well be impossible for an injured pedestrian to effectively identify the e-scooter that hit them, and thereby, to trace the driver in question.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #8
Each e-scooter should be required to be licensed and to display a readily-seen license plate number.

The E-scooter’s Owner and Driver Should Be Required to Carry Valid Insurance

It is widely recognized that motor vehicles pose a risk to personal injury of other motorists and pedestrians. As a result, both the owner and driver of a motor vehicle are required to carry liability insurance. It is an offence to fail to carry proper insurance.

The same should be so for the owner and driver of an e-scooter. It is important for both to be insured, as is the case for other motor vehicles such as cars and trucks, so an injured victim can recover compensation from either or both, if injured.

This is especially important where, as here, it is known that e-scooters pose a real risk of personal injury. The victims of such injuries, and the taxpayers who pay for our health system, should not be left holding the bag when it comes to the consequences of the use of e-scooters.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #9
The owner and driver of an e-scooter should be required to carry sufficient liability insurance for injuries or other damages that the e-scooter causes to others.

Helmets Should Be Required for All E-Scooter Drivers, No Matter What Their Age Is

The use of an e-scooter can result in injuries to the driver, and not just to innocent pedestrians. This obviously can include head injuries.

A helmet is an important safety measure to at least try to reduce some of the harmful impacts on the driver of a fall from the e-scooter. Yet the Ford Government is only proposing during its pilot project to require an e-scooter driver to wear a helmet if they are between the ages of 16 and 18.

Yet people 18 or older are equally exposed to the risk of head injuries. This creates an undue risk of increased injuries to drivers. That is bad for the drivers themselves and for their families. It also creates an unnecessary and unfair burden for the taxpayer, who will have to cover the health and other social safety net costs of those injuries to the e-scooter drivers.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #10
All e-scooter drivers, regardless of their age, should be required to wear a helmet whenever operating an e-scooter.

If There Is to Be a Pilot Period with E-scooters, It Should Be Much Shorter Than Five Years and For A Smaller Part of Ontario

The Ford Government is proposing an e-scooter pilot project for the entirety of Ontario, to last fully five years. There is serious reason to doubt whether the Government means this as a pilot project. It appears far more likely that the Government means for this to be a way to embed e-scooters as a done deal, a permanent fixture in Ontario. After five years, the Government and the e-scooter rental companies that are lobbying to get them into Ontario may well be hoping that it will be much harder to reduce or eliminate them, if they are already entrenched around Ontario. This is a real problem facing those jurisdictions that have already allowed e-scooters to proliferate, and that now have serious concerns about their impact.

There is no reason for a pilot project to last for a long five years. A much shorter period is warranted, in order to assess their impact. This is so especially since there are other jurisdictions which have already in effect served as a pilot project for Ontario. They have allowed e-scooters, with all the accompanying problems. As noted earlier, Ontario should study their impact in those other jurisdictions first, rather than exposing Ontarians to the risk of personal injury. Only if that study reveals that e-scooters can be safely introduced in Ontario should a pilot project be even considered for Ontario.

If, despite our documented serious concerns about e-scooters, a pilot project is to take place in Ontario, it should be conducted for a far shorter period, such as six months. A proper assessment of their impact should be assigned to an arms-length organization with expertise in public safety.

There is no reason why a pilot project should take place across the entirety of Ontario. Instead, a specific region or community should be selected. That community should first be given the right to consent or reject the proposal on behalf of its citizens.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #11
No e-scooter pilot project should be held in Ontario until the Ontario Government effectively studies the impact on public safety of e-scooters in jurisdictions that have allowed them, and on options for regulatory controls of them, and has made the details of these public. A pilot project should only be held in Ontario if public safety can be fully and effectively protected.

Recommendation #12
If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, it should only take place for a period much shorter than five years, e.g. six months, and should only take place in a specific community that has consented to permit that pilot project there.

Recommendation #13
If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, the Ontario Government should retain a trusted independent organization with expertise in public safety to study the impact of e-scooters during that pilot project, and to make the full results of that study public.

A Ban on Riding E-scooters on Sidewalks Is Insufficient to Address Public Safety Concerns

To address the safety and accessibility concerns in this brief, it would be insufficient to simply ban the riding of e-scooters on sidewalks. Such a ban is of course needed, but would be insufficient to solve problems caused by e-scooters. e-scooters present safety issues on public roads, not just on sidewalks. Moreover, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to effectively police a ban on e-scooters on sidewalks. Even though bicycles are not supposed to be ridden on public sidewalks, pedestrians know that a good number of cyclists nevertheless ride their bikes on sidewalks from time to time, without much fear of law enforcement.

Especially if an e-scooter is not licensed and does not bear a plainly visible license plate number, it would too often be hard if not impossible for an injured pedestrian to report to police on someone who unlawfully rode an e-scooter on the sidewalk. It will be hard if not impossible to reliably identify the offender in a way that will stand up in court. Eyewitness identification evidence is notoriously hard to present in court.

Blind people, or people with low vision or who are deafblind can face the risk of injuries without any practical way to identify the e-scooter driver who hit them, or who left their e-scooter on the sidewalk.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #14
The Government should not treat a ban on riding e-scooters on the sidewalk, while necessary, as a sufficient protection against the threat to public safety that e-scooters present.

There Should Be No Comparable Restrictions on Powered Scooters Used as a Mobility Aid for People with Disabilities

We emphasize that in raising these concerns with e-scooters, nothing should be done to restrict the current availability and use of powered scooters as a mobility aid for people with various disabilities. These are not in the same class of vehicle as e-scooters, addressed in this brief. They do not present the concerns raised in this brief. As we understand it, they do not travel at the kinds of speeds that an e-scooter can travel. They are an essential form of adaptive technology for people with disabilities.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #15
nothing should be done to reduce or restrict the availability or use of powered mobility devices used by people with disabilities.

Don’t Allow E-scooters and Then Leave It to Municipalities To Fix the Problems this Presents

An option the Ontario Government might be considering is to allow the use of e-scooters, either by owning or renting them, and then leaving it to each municipal government to regulate them, or to decide if they will be permitted in that municipality. This is no solution, for the following reasons.

First, as documented in this brief, the public safety and accessibility problems with e-scooters are already known. They would recur across Ontario. They do not vary from municipality to municipality.

Second, people with disabilities should not have to shoulder the burden of having to campaign, in each municipality across Ontario, to prevent the creation of these new accessibility barriers and safety threats. No doubt the e-scooter rental companies would prefer e-scooters to be permitted across Ontario, but would, as a second choice, welcome the chance to target municipalities and lobby them to permit them on very liberal terms.

Third, our municipalities and municipal taxpayers have more than enough on their plates to deal with now. They don’t need the Ontario Government to create a new problem for them, and then leave them with the burden to cope with the consequences and clean up the consequent mess.

We therefore recommend that:

Recommendation #16
The Ontario Government should not permit e-scooters and then leave it to each municipality to regulate them or leave it to each municipality to decide if they want to permit e-scooters.

There Are Important Differences Between E-bikes and E-scooters

It would be wrong for the Government to proceed on the basis that it should allow e-scooters by virtue of the fact that it already allows e-bikes, for several reasons. First, if, as we have shown, e-scooters present a safety risk, that safety risk neither magically vanishes nor in any way reduces just because Ontario now allows e-bikes.

Second, there are some important differences between the two. A person cannot ride an e-bike unless they already know how to ride a bike. In contrast, a person with no prior experience can, in some other jurisdictions, pay a rental fee, hop on an e-scooter, and immediately start racing in public at 32 KPH. As well, we are not aware of any companies that rent e-bikes on the terms used elsewhere for e-scooters, where they are regularly left as barriers in the middle of sidewalks.

Because this e-scooter consultation has been so rushed, we have not had a sufficient opportunity to explore the full ramifications of e-bikes beyond this. This is yet another reason why this hasty public consultation should be withdrawn or lengthened.

We also emphasize that there are key differences between an e-scooter and a non-motorized bicycle. While some can ride a bike quite fast, a novice cannot simply hop on a bike and race at 32 KPH. Moreover, a regular bike is not a motor vehicle. An e-scooter is a motor vehicle.

Appendix 1 List of Recommendations in This Brief

Recommendation #1
There should be no pilot project allowing e-scooters to be driven in public places in Ontario.

Recommendation #2
The Government should withdraw this e-scooter public consultation and go back to the drawing board. If it is not prepared to withdraw this public consultation on e-scooters, the Ontario Government should at least extend the consultation period to October 31, 2019.

Recommendation #3
The rental of e-scooters should be strictly forbidden, even if private ownership of an e-scooter by a user of that e-scooter were to be permitted.

Recommendation #4
There should be a strict ban on leaving an e-scooter in a public sidewalk or like location. If an e-scooter is left in such a place, it should be subject to immediate confiscation and forfeiture, as well as a strict penalty.

Recommendation #5
If e-scooters are to be permitted in Ontario, they should be required to make an ongoing beeping sound when they are powered on, to warn others of their approach.

Recommendation #6
The speed limit for e-scooters should initially be set much lower than 32 KPH, such as 15 or 20 KPH, until a strong showing can be made that a higher speed limit poses no safety threat to the public.

Recommendation #7
A person wishing to drive an e-scooter should be required to first take required training on its safe operation and on the rules of the road, and then to obtain a license.

Recommendation #8
Each e-scooter should be required to be licensed and to display a readily-seen license plate number.

Recommendation #9
The owner and driver of an e-scooter should be required to carry sufficient liability insurance for injuries or other damages that the e-scooter causes to others.

Recommendation #10
All e-scooter drivers, regardless of their age, should be required to wear a helmet whenever operating an e-scooter.

Recommendation #11
No e-scooter pilot project should be held in Ontario until the Ontario Government effectively studies the impact on public safety of e-scooters in jurisdictions that have allowed them, and on options for regulatory controls of them, and has made the details of these public. A pilot project should only be held in Ontario if public safety can be fully and effectively protected.

Recommendation #12
If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, it should only take place for a period much shorter than five years, e.g. six months, and should only take place in a specific community that has consented to permit that pilot project there.

Recommendation #13
If Ontario is to hold an e-scooter pilot project, the Ontario Government should retain a trusted independent organization with expertise in public safety to study the impact of e-scooters during that pilot project, and to make the full results of that study public.

Recommendation #14
The Government should not treat a ban on riding e-scooters on the sidewalk, while necessary, as a sufficient protection against the threat to public safety that e-scooters present.

Recommendation #15
nothing should be done to reduce or restrict the availability or use of powered mobility devices used by people with disabilities.

Recommendation #16
The Ontario Government should not permit e-scooters and then leave it to each municipality to regulate them or leave it to each municipality to decide if they want to permit e-scooters.

Appendix 2 The Ford Government’s 48-Hour Pre-Labour Day Public Consultation on Allowing Electric Scooters in Ontario

Originally posted at https://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=30207&language=en

Kick Style Electric Scooter (E-Scooter)

Background:

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is strongly committed to promoting the highest standards of safety for all Ontarians who travel on our roads, including drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, and will continue working with all our partners on measures that enhance this objective. Trends and technology are evolving, with new forms of vehicles such as e-scooters entering the market.

MTO is interested in new and environmentally-friendly vehicles, however it is important that new vehicles are constructed with appropriate safety features to allow safe integration with all other road users.

MTO is considering the following proposal and invites you to submit your comments for consideration.

E-Scooters

E-scooters have been launched in more than 125 cities across the United States. They represent a new way for residents to get around their communities, are seen as providing first and last mile connections to transit, and represent an opportunity to reduce traffic congestion.

E-scooters are currently not permitted to operate on roads in Ontario as they do not meet any federal or provincial safety standards for on-road use. These devices may only be operated where Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) does not apply such as private property.

The ministry is interested in exploring the feasibility of these vehicles safely integrating with other road users while promoting road safety andfostering business innovation in the province.

MTO is soliciting public comment on potentially permitting the use of e-scooters on roads in Ontario as part of a pilot project. This will allow the ministry to ensure e-scooters can be safely integrated with other road users before a final, permanent, regulatory decision is made.

Proposed E-Scooter Pilot Framework:

Pilot Duration:

The length of the pilot will be for a prescribed period of 5 years, to ensure sufficient time to effectively monitor and evaluate the pilot results.

Operator/Rider/Vehicle Requirements Include:

Can operate on-road similar to where bicycles can operate; prohibited on controlled access highways Minimum operating age 16
Bicycle helmet required for those under 18 years old
No passengers allowed
Maximum operating speed 32 km/h
No pedals or seat allowed
Must have 2 wheels and brakes
Maximum wheel diameter 17 inches
Must have horn or bell
Must have front and back light
Maximum weight 45kg and Maximum power output 500W

Data Collection:

Municipalities to remit data to the province, as requested

Appendix 3 The New York Times September 4, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/04/technology/san-diego-electric-scooters.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

Welcome to San Diego. Dont Mind the Scooters.

A year ago, electric rental scooters were hailed as the next big thing in transportation. But their troubles in San Diego show how the services have now hit growing pains.

Companies distribute scooters around cities, often on sidewalks. In the area around Mission Beach, one of San Diegos main beaches, 70 scooters lined a single side of one block in July. By Erin Griffith

Sept. 4, 2019

SAN DIEGO The first thing you notice in San Diegos historic Gaslamp Quarter is not the brick sidewalks, the rows of bars and the roving gaggles of bachelorette parties and conferencegoers, or even the actual gas lamps.

Its the electric rental scooters. Hundreds are scattered around the sidewalks, clustered in newly painted corrals on the street and piled up in the gutters. In early July, one corner alone had 37. In the area around Mission Beach, one of the citys main beaches, a single side of one block had 70. Most sat unused.

Since scooter rental companies like Bird, Lime, Razor, Lyft and Uber-owned Jump moved into San Diego last year, inflating the citys scooter population to as many as 40,000 by some estimates, the vehicles have led to injuries, deaths, lawsuits and vandals. Regulators and local activists have pushed back against them. One company has even started collecting the vehicles to help keep the sidewalks clear.

My constituents hate them pretty universally, said Barbara Bry, a San Diego City Council member. She called for a moratorium on the scooters when they arrived, saying they clogged sidewalks and were a danger to pedestrians.

San Diegos struggle to contain the havoc provides a glimpse of how reality has set in for scooter companies like Bird and Lime. Last year, the services were hailed as the next big thing in personal transportation. Investors poured money into the firms, valuing Bird at $2.3 billion and Lime at $2.4 billion and prompting an array of followers.

At the end of a rental period, a rider leaves the scooter for the next customer to retrieve. CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

The scooter companies distribute their electric vehicles around cities and universities often on sidewalks and rent them by the minute via apps. At the end of a rental period, a rider leaves the scooter for the next customer to retrieve. Scooter speeds vary by company, model and city, as do helmet laws, although helmets generally are not required.

But now, skepticism about scooter services is rising. Some cities, including San Francisco, Paris, Atlanta and Portland, Ore., have imposed stricter regulations on scooter speed limits, parking or nighttime riding. Columbia, S.C., has temporarily banned them. New York recently passed legislation that would allow scooters to operate in some parts of New York City, but not in Manhattan.

Safety has become a big issue. A three-month study published in May from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Public Health and Transportation Departments of Austin, Tex., found that for every 100,000 scooter rides, 20 people were injured. Nearly half of the injuries were to the head; 15 percent of those showed evidence of traumatic brain injury.

Bird, Lime and Skip are trying to secure new funding, according to three people familiar with the talks, who declined to be identified because the discussions were not finished. In May, Lime replaced its chief executive; several other top executives also left. And in July, Birds chief executive called a report about the companys losses fake.

Scooters are a fun and convenient mode of transportation that really does put people at risk and introduces significant spatial challenges to the civic commons, said Adie Tomer, a metropolitan policy fellow at the Brookings Institution. Those tensions are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Bird declined to comment.

Many scooter companies miscalculated how long the scooters would last often not long enough for rental fees to cover their costs and are struggling with profitability, acknowledged Sanjay Dastoor, Skips chief executive. His company has designed a way to produce more durable scooters that can be repaired more easily and last long enough to turn a profit, he said, allowing it to run a safe fleet that we are proud of.

Lindsey Haswell, Limes head of communications, said new industries often faced regulatory challenges, but our investors are willing to take the long view. She added that the issues in San Diego did not reflect the global scooter market. Lime has provided more than three million trips in San Diego, she said, and has as many supporters as we have detractors there.

Hans Tung, an investor at GGV, which has backed Lime, said he was encouraged by the companys progress and was confident it would make its scooters safe and profitable. I dont see how that couldnt be achieved, he said.

Bird and Lime deployed their scooters in San Diego in February 2018, followed by other companies. The start-ups pitched themselves as environmentally friendly, a message that jibed with San Diegos goal to reduce greenhouse emissions.

San Diego initially took a hands-off approach. The scooters became popular, with an average of 30,000 riders per day, according to city officials.

Millennials and post-millennials want to live in a thriving, bustling city that has dynamic choices for mobility, said Erik Caldwell, San Diegos deputy head of operations for smart and sustainable communities.

But as more scooters flooded San Diego last summer, local business owners and residents began objecting. Alex Stennet, a bouncer at Coyote Ugly Saloon in the Gaslamp District, said people tripped over the vehicles and threw them around. He said he had witnessed at least 20 scooter accidents in front of Coyote Ugly.

ScootScoop has deals with 250 local businesses to remove scooters; it has towed more than 12,500. CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

Dan Borelli, who owns a bike rental shop called Boardwalk Electric Rides in Pacific Beach, said the scooters frequently blocked the entrance to his store. In July 2018, he teamed up with John Heinkel, owner of a local towing company, to haul away scooters that they deemed to be parked on private property. They charge Bird, Lime and others a retrieval fee of $50 per scooter, plus $2 for each day of storage.

Their company, ScootScoop, has essentially turned them into scooter bounty hunters. They said they have struck deals with 250 local businesses and hotels and have towed more than 12,500 scooters. Some scooter companies have paid to get them back, they said.

In March, Lime and Bird sued Mr. Borelli and Mr. Heinkel for the scooter removals. ScootScoop countersued Bird and Lime last week.

Other cities have called ScootScoop for advice, Mr. Borelli said. Mr. Heinkel said the scooter companies underestimated them. They assumed we were two hillbillies in a pickup truck, as opposed to business owners, he said.

Limes Ms. Haswell said Mr. Borelli and Mr. Heinkel are opportunistic businessmen who troll the streets stealing scooters, with no respect for the law, trying to make a profit at San Diegos expense.

Late last year, the scooters turned from annoyances into hazards. In December, a man in Chula Vista, a San Diego suburb, died after he was hit by a car while riding a Bird scooter, according to the Chula Vista Police Department. A tourist died a few months later after crashing his rental scooter into a tree. Another visitor died of blunt force torso trauma after his scooter collided with another, the San Diego Police Department said.

The department said it counted 15 serious injury collisions involving scooters in the first half of this year. Last month, three separate scooter-related skull fractures happened in one week.

On one day in July, there were 150 available Bird scooters within a two-block radius in Mission Beach.CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times

Scooter parking corrals were introduced in July as part of San Diegos new rules. CreditTara Pixley for The New York Times
As the injuries piled up, Safe Walkways, an activist group, amassed hundreds of members in a Facebook group to oppose the scooters and file complaints to government agencies. In April, around 50 protesters gathered on Mission Beachs boardwalk with signs bearing messages like Safety Not Scooters and BoardWALK.

Lawsuits have also piled up. Clients of Matthew Souther, an attorney at Neil Dymott, filed a potential class action suit in March that accused Bird, Lime and the City of San Diego of not complying with disability rights laws to keep sidewalks clear. He said he was working on a dozen other injury lawsuits against scooter companies.

San Diego has started cracking down on the scooters. In July, the city enacted rules restricting where they could be parked and driven and issued permits for 20,000 scooters, across all companies, to operate. In three days that month, authorities impounded 2,500 scooters that violated parking rules. San Diego later sent notices of violations to Bird, Lyft, Lime and Skip.

Last month, San Diego told Lime that it planned to revoke its permit to operate in the city because of the violations, pending a hearing.

Christina Chadwick, a spokeswoman for San Diegos mayor, Kevin Faulconer, said the scooter operators had been warned that the city would aggressively monitor them.

To deal with critics and improve safety and costs, the scooter companies have upgraded their fleets with sturdier scooters. Bird has said its Bird Zero model, which makes up a majority of its fleet, lasts an average of 10 months, compared with three months for past models. Skip recently announced a scooter with modular parts, which makes repairs easier.

And after a year recalling scooters with cracked baseboards and batteries that caught fire, Lime has introduced new vehicles with bigger wheels and baseboards, as well as interchangeable batteries and parts.

Ms. Haswell said Lime was eager to show the progress it had made. We admit that we havent always gotten it right in San Diego, she said.

Erin Griffith reports on technology start-ups and venture capital from the San Francisco bureau. Before joining The Times she was a senior writer at WIRED and Fortune. @eringriffith

A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 4, 2019, Section B, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: San Diegos Scooter Tryout Gets Off to a Bumpy Start. Order Reprints




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