AODA Alliance Writes Toronto Mayor John Tory and City Council to Thank Them for Maintaining the Ban on Electric Scooters


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Web: https://www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

May 12, 2021

SUMMARY

In the wake of the disability community’s major victory in Toronto last week, the AODA Alliance has just written Toronto Mayor John Tory and all members of Toronto City Council. We thank them for unanimously voting last week to keep in place the ban on riding electric scooters in public places. We set out that letter below. In our letter we also urge the City of Toronto to move swiftly to implement City Council’s commendable unanimous decision to conduct a public education campaign to ensure that the public knows that it is illegal to ride e-scooters in public and to beef up enforcement of the ban on riding e-scooters in Toronto.

Our attention now turns to other cities in Ontario that are allowing e-scooters or that are considering this possibility. They should act on the strong message from Toronto’s wise decision that e-scooters must remain banned to protect the safety of people with disabilities, seniors, children and others, and to avoid creating new disability accessibility barriers. Stay tuned for more on this topic.

If you live in a community outside Toronto where e-scooters are allowed or are being considered, we invite you to press your municipal government to ban e-scooters. If you want to learn more about this, check out the AODA Alliance’s short captioned video on this topic that helped with our blitz in Toronto. It has been seen over 1,000 times. Even though it speaks about Toronto, all the points in it are relevant wherever you live. If your city is one of the few conducting a pilot project with e-scooters, nothing prevents the city from cancelling that pilot due to its dangers to the public.

Feel free to let us know what you do. Email us at [email protected]

You can thumb through all our advocacy efforts on this issue around Ontario over the past two years by visiting the AODA Alliance e-scooter web page.

MORE DETAILS

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

May 12, 2021

To: Mayor John Tory and Members of Toronto City Council
City Hall,
100 Queen St. W.
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Via email: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Dear Mayor Tory and Members of Toronto City Council

Re: Protecting People with Disabilities in Toronto From the Dangers Posed by Electric Scooters

We write to thank you very much for unanimously voting on May 5, 2021 to keep in place the ban on riding e-scooters in public spaces in Toronto, and not to conduct an e-scooter pilot project. It is a major relief to people with disabilities, seniors and others that they will not face the dangers to their safety and accessibility that would have been created, had the vote gone in the other direction. We thank you for standing up for people with disabilities, and standing up to the e-scooter corporate lobbyists.

You should be proud of Toronto’s handling of this issue, for several reasons. City staff did thorough impartial professional work on this issue, in the highest tradition of the public service. They produced an excellent report to guide you in your deliberations, after carefully researching the subject, and after affording to all sides of the debate a complete and fair opportunity to address the issues raised by e-scooters.

You should also be proud of the important role that accessibility for people with disabilities played in the decision on this issue. City Council’s unanimous decision last week implements the two unanimous recommendations on e-scooters that the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee submitted to City Council, in order to protect personal safety and accessibility for people with disabilities. Once the disability concerns regarding e-scooters were raised by the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee and by deputants from the disability community before Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee last year, City Council commendably directed City staff on July 28, 2020 to do more research on these disability issues, before Council would ultimately vote on the e-scooters issue. The further research that City staff thereafter undertook again verified these disability concerns and documented that there was no effective solution for them, short of a continued ban on public riding of e-scooters. City Council was wise to follow the City staff recommendation.

We thank every member of City Council who took the time to speak with us and/or other representatives from the disability community, as well as those of your staffs that did so. It is so important for you to hear directly from us as you think through public policy issues that can affect us.

It was very commendable that on May 5, 2021, City Council unanimously adopted the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee recommendation that the City undertake a public education strategy to inform the public that riding privately-owned e-scooters in public places is unlawful. As well, Council wisely adopted the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee recommendation that the City effectively enforce the ban on riding privately-owned e-scooters in public. That unanimous Toronto City Council decision reads in material part:

“1. City Council request the Toronto Police Services Board, the General Manager, Transportation Services, and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to consult with accessibility stakeholders to:

a. develop a public education campaign to effectively convey the existing by-laws on the prohibition of e-scooters use in all public spaces; and

b. actively scale up city-wide enforcement of the by-law prohibiting use of e-scooters in all public spaces.”

It is more than ironic that mere days after the City Council vote on e-scooters, I encountered an incident with a privately-owned e-scooter when walking on a public path in a City park. A child, likely no older than 14 or 15, was racing very close to me over and over, back and forth, on an e-scooter on that path. As I am blind, a sighted friend with me, himself a senior citizen whom the e-scooter barely missed, noted for me that the child had no helmet. We told the child that riding that e-scooter was illegal. The child seemed to have no idea of that. A little later, the child’s grandfather belligerently told my wife that it is not illegal to ride that e-scooter, and that he should know, since he is a lawyer. This typifies the need for strong action by the City.

City Council should be proud as well of the important leadership and strong signal that Toronto has provided for other municipalities around Ontario that may now be considering the possibility of lifting the ban on e-scooters, or that are carrying on an e-scooter pilot. Sadly, and contrary to the needs of Ontarians with disabilities, the Ontario Government did not do the much-needed research into disability concerns that Toronto City staff commendably undertook before Ontario exposed us all to the dangers that e-scooters have been proven to pose. Smaller communities don’t have the City staff capacity and expertise that Toronto is fortunate to have. They can all now benefit from the research undertaken by Toronto City staff.

We know that the well-financed e-scooter corporate lobbyists, who inundated Toronto City Hall for over two years on this issue, will target other cities. Toronto’s wise decision not to allow e-scooters will help give those other Ontario communities pause in the face of that corporate lobbying. Once the pandemic is behind us, we will be encouraging tourists and conferences that are looking for destinations in Ontario to choose as their destinations only those Ontario municipalities that ban e-scooters, in order to avoid the dangers of e-scooters.

We ask that City Council and the City of Toronto build on its commendable decision on e-scooters by taking the following important steps, with which we would be pleased to assist:

1. Please immediately implement the Council’s recommendation for a public education blitz and for an enforcement plan regarding illegal riding of privately-owned e-scooters in public places.

2. Please ensure that throughout the development of future City planning regarding micro-mobility, disability accessibility and safety concerns are front and centre, so that people with disabilities do not have to wage so exhausting a volunteer campaign as was the case over the past year and a quarter regarding e-scooters.

3. Please ensure that the impact of City policies are always thoroughly vetted in advance for accessibility issues, as part of the City’s business routine. The City of course can benefit from the advice of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee which did excellent work here. However, this cannot all be left to that committee, especially in a City Government as large and complex as Toronto’s.

4. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, please continue to afford to the public, including to people with disabilities, the opportunity to make deputations via virtual online participation. This can go a long way to overcoming disability barriers to participation in City Government decision-making.

We again congratulate and thank City Council and hope you will all stay safe.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O. Ont
Chair Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Twitter: @davidlepofsky




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