Disability Advocacy Gets Action!


The Ford Government Extends Its Public Consultation Period for Its Troubled Proposal to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario from 48 Hours to 2.5 Weeks

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

August 30,2019
SUMMARY

Swift advocacy efforts yesterday by the AODA Alliance and others in the disability community (including Balance for Blind Adults and the CNIB) have yielded some modest results.

Two days ago, the Doug Ford Government quietly posted online a brief notice inviting public input on a proposal to permit the use of electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ontario for a test period of five years. The Ford Government allowed a paltry 48 hours for public input, expiring on the Labour Day long weekend.

Thankfully we were alerted to this by an AODA Alliance supporter, who was concerned about the safety risk that the use of e-scooters posed for Ontarians with disabilities. Problems have been reported for the public in other jurisdictions that have allowed e-scooters.

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.

Within hours, the Ford Government gave some ground, though not all the ground we had requested. It announced that it was extending its consultation on this issue to September 12, 2019. A tweet last evening on Twitter from Ontario’s Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, who has lead responsibility in this area, announced this short extension, as follows:

“Caroline Mulroney. Comments on our proposed e-scooter regulation can be submitted until September 12th. We look forward to hearing all stakeholder feedback and getting this pilot project right. https://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=30207language=en ontariocanada.com/registry/view.”

The Globe and Mail posted online a good news report on this issue, and included it in its hard copy of the newspaper today. See below.

While this extension is helpful, it is still clearly shorter than typical Government consultations. The Doug Ford Government’s approach strongly suggests that it has already made up its mind to allow e-scooters in Ontario, and is simply going through the motions, when it comes to public consultations. Posting a consultation just before the Labour Day weekend, when many are away on holidays and are not monitoring for new Government consultations, is a well-known strategy for hoping that most will miss the announcement. Such a rushed consultation, whether 48 hours or 2.5 weeks, gives the same signal. Clearly there is no urgency about allowing e-scooters in Ontario, to justify such conduct by our elected leaders.

It is also troubling that the Ford Government has not agreed, prior to going any further with this proposal, to study the safety risks to the public including to Ontarians with disabilities, that e-scooters pose.

“It is inexcusable that the Ford Government tried to hold a public consultation on an issue affecting public safety in a meager 48 hours, and tried to do so just before the Labour Day weekend,” said David Lepofsky, chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance. “We should never have had to fight such rear-guard battles as this. The Transportation Minister and Ministry neither alerted us to the consultation itself, nor to the extension of time that we and others had to fight for and win.”

We will rush to prepare a submission to this public consultation. Send us your feedback. Write us at [email protected]

Also, we encourage you to send the Government your feedback. Details of the Ford Government’s consultation on this issue is available at https://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=30207&language=en

The Doug Ford Government’s haste in trying to deal with this issue stands in striking contrast to its unfair and protracted delays in addressing the serious barriers that over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities still face. There have now been 211 days, or almost seven months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ford Government has still announced no plan of action to implement the Onley report.

The Onley report found that Ontario remains full of “soul-crushing” barriers against Ontarians with disabilities, and that Government action to redress these has been far too inadequate.

The AODA Alliance is leading a “Dial Doug” campaign. It is urging members of the public to call or email Premier Ford, and to ask him where is his plan to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

Doug Ford’s office number is +1 (416) 325-1941. His email address is [email protected]

Action tips on how to take part in the #DialDoug blitz are available at https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/join-in-our-new-dial-doug-campaign-a-grassroots-blitz-unveiled-today-to-get-the-doug-ford-government-to-make-ontario-open-for-over-1-9-million-ontarians-with-disabilities/

MORE DETAILS

The Globe and Mail AUGUST 30, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-ontario-government-causes-confusion-with-amended-e-scooter-pilot/ Ontario extends e-scooter public-comment period OLIVER MOORE URBAN AFFAIRS REPORTER

Under a proposal posted online by the provincial Ministry of Transportation, the province would conduct a five-year pilot project that would allow e-scooters in the same places as bicycles.

GLENN LOWSON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The Ontario government sparked confusion and pushback by offering a two-day window of opportunity for the public to comment on electric kick scooters being allowed on the provinces roads.

Under a proposal posted online by the provincial Ministry of Transportation, the province would conduct a five-year pilot project that would allow e-scooters in the same places as bicycles. Speeds would be capped at 32 kilometres an hour and no one younger than 16 would be allowed to ride.

The proposal was put online Wednesday, and initially specified that people would have until Friday to weigh in. Ministerial spokesman Bob Nichols said late Thursday afternoon that the deadline was being extended to Sept. 12. He did not explain the reason for the change and apologized for any confusion.”

The apparent brevity of the comment period was one factor that drew criticism from advocates, as was the length of the pilot, at a time of fast-changing transportation options, and the speed at which e-scooters would be allowed to move.

Its a very fast pace for these devices to be travelling, especially if theyre sharing limited space in bicycle lanes and bicycle paths with users that are moving at a slower speed, said Jaime Stuckless, executive director of the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, which has advocated for a 24-km-an-hour limit for the devices. The speed is the major concern for us.

The pilot project proposed by the province follows the introduction of e-scooters into multiple jurisdictions, in many cases prompting the ire of pedestrians who feel endangered and raising concerns among safety advocates.

These e-scooters are sometimes privately owned, but are more likely to be distributed by one of a handful of major firms offering them as short-term rentals. They have popped up in cities around the world but have been largely absent in Ontario, where the current law bars them from both sidewalks and roads.

Attempts to introduce e-scooters without contravening the law include plans for them in Torontos Distillery District, a small private neighbourhood, and a continuing pilot in Waterloo, where users are supposed to keep the vehicles largely on a multiuse trail.

Under the provinces proposal, e-scooters would be permitted on roads, similar to where bicycles can operate. Mr. Nichols said that it was too early to know whether municipalities would still have the power to set aside road space for bicycles only. He also said there was no definitive date for the pilot to begin.

David Lepofsky, a long-time activist for the visually impaired and chair of the AODA Alliance, which advocates for Ontarians with disabilities, raised concerns Thursday that the process is being rushed. The group argues that the government needs to withdraw this consultation and start over, with a focus on studying and making public the impact of e-scooters on safety, including for disabled people.

Ms. Stuckless, with the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, also suggested that a five-year pilot was unwisely long. Her group has called for a two-year pilot, which she said would be more useful for assessing the latest addition to a dynamic transportation sector.

Who knows what the next trend is going to be that evolves in the next five years, she said. The space is changing pretty quickly.




Source link