Come to a Toronto Area Public Forum on the Federal Elections’ Disability Issues on October 16 – and – More Reasons Why Electric Scooters are Bad for Ontario


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org  [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Come to a Toronto Area Public Forum on the Federal Elections’ Disability Issues on October 16 – and – More Reasons Why Electric Scooters are Bad for Ontario

October 11, 2019

          SUMMARY

Here are bits and pieces of accessibility news to share, that have been building up in our virtual in-tray! We hope you enjoy this information, on the 254th day since the Ford Government received the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. How much more we would have to give thanks for on this Thanksgiving weekend if the Government were to have announced a comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report.

On the national front, we want to let you know that on the evening of October 16, 2019, a federal election forum will be held in Toronto to focus on disability issues in the current federal election. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to be one of the event’s speakers. We encourage you to attend. The full details are set out in the event announcement, below.

We remind one and all to raise disability accessibility issues with the candidates in this election. Use the AODA Alliance’s new Federal Election Action Kit. It gives you great action tips and all the background that you need to help press our issues. Please retweet the tweets that @aodaalliance is now tweeting to candidates for Canada’s Parliament, where we ask for election commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities.

Turning to the provincial front, the AODA Alliance has been trying to play a leading role in  raising concerns with the Ford Government’s plans to expose Ontarians to the serious safety and accessibility risks posed by allowing electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ontario.

We have no word from the Ford Government on the results of their rushed consultations on this issue last month. In the meantime, opposition continues to grow to the Government’s plans. Below, we set out the October 2, 2019 news release by the City of Toronto on the subject. It recognizes a need to ensure protection for both public safety and accessibility, and reflects a cautious approach to allowing e-scooters in Canada’s and Ontario’s biggest city.

Torontonians need to press their city council members as well as the Ford Government to not allow e-scooters onto our streets, sidewalks or other public places, since they pose a safety and accessibility threat. We expect that the companies that want to make money renting e-scooters in Ontario and having them parked for free all over our sidewalks, like Lime and Bird, are heavily lobbying both the Ford Government and members of Toronto City Council, behind closed doors.

We also set out below an October 5, 2019 guest column in the Toronto Star that highlights how much of a safety risk e-scooters have proven themselves to be. We also show you an October 9, 2019 letter to the editor in the Toronto Star that reinforces those safety concerns.

We wish one and all a happy and barrier-free Thanksgiving.

          MORE DETAILS

 

Announcement of October 16, 2019 Toronto Area Federal Election Forum on Disability Issues

2019 Federal Election Forum on Accessibility and Disability Justice

 

The GTA Disability Coalition invites people with disabilities and their allies to join us for a federal election forum on accessibility and disability justice.

– Engage with an informed panel of experts speaking on the federal parties’ platforms on key disability issues

– Raise your awareness about actions you can call on parties to take to advance an accessible Canada

– Ask questions and share your civic voice in #AccessibleCndVOTE 

DATE: Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
TIME: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm)
LOCATION: Ryerson University, Tecumseh Auditorium, Ryerson Student Centre, 55 Gould Street (SW side of Gould and Church St)

RSVP to Robin Simmons at 416-599-2458 ext. 293 by Monday, October 14, 2019. Seating is limited. You can also register for this event via Eventbrite

Submit your questions on Twitter to #AccessibleCndVOTE

 

Forum Partners: Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians.  A-Way Express. Balance for Blind Adults. Canadian National Institute for the Blind.  Centre for Independent Living in Toronto.  Doris Power. Ethno-racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario.  Empowerment Council.  Kim Adlard. Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre. ODSP Action Coalition. Older Women’s Network.  Ryerson University.  Springtide Resources. Students for Barrier-Free Access -U of T. Working for Change.

October 2, 2019 City of Toronto News Release on E-Scooters

City of Toronto Media Relations has issued the following:

News Release

October 2, 2019

City of Toronto moves to ensure safety and accessibility at forefront of planning for e-scooters

Toronto City Council today adopted a series of recommendations focused on dealing with the future oversight and management of e-scooters in Toronto.

The City is carefully planning for the provincial government’s anticipated introduction of e-scooters in Ontario by prioritizing safety and accessibility for the use of e-scooters in Toronto. Among comments provided to the province, municipalities in Ontario including Toronto have requested that municipalities maintain oversight on how e-scooters are regulated and how they are deployed on local streets.

City Council voted to direct Transportation Services, Municipal Licensing and Standards, the Medical Officer of Health and the Toronto Parking Authority, to report later this year on a program to enable the oversight and management of e-scooters on City roadways, including the possibility of adding electric scooters to the bike share fleet as a way of managing e-scooters in the public right-of-way, with the goal of ensuring a safe and accessible transportation network for all users during the proposed 5-year Provincial pilot project.

Until proper regulations are developed, City staff successfully recommended that City Council continue to prohibit the use of e-scooters on City sidewalks and pedestrian ways, prohibit any person from parking, storing or leaving an e-scooter on any street, sidewalk and pedestrian way.

Currently under the Province of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA), vehicles such as e-scooters are not considered legal for use on city/public roads, including in bike lanes. As motorized vehicles, they are also not permitted for use on municipal sidewalks.

The Ontario government has proposed regulations for the use of e-scooters, including details for a five-year pilot window. The HTA will not be altered but the rules around pilot projects for e-scooters in Ontario are expected to be outlined. Timing is currently unknown while the province reviews public input.

E-scooters are being piloted in several North American cities, including Canadian jurisdictions outside Ontario, as well as in a variety of American jurisdictions. Programs have had varied success and outcomes with regard to use, safety, sidewalk clutter and parking. More data is being collected in other cities on safety and environmental impacts of e-scooters.

While a number of cities have piloted e-scooters, some cities are reviewing and consulting the public such as Boston, Seattle and Boulder. Examples of cities that currently prohibit e-scooter programs include London (UK), New York City (Manhattan), Philadelphia, Dublin and Honolulu.

Once the regulation for Ontario is made available by the province, City staff will review it and are expected to report back to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee in December on a proposed framework that enables the oversight and management of e-scooters on Toronto roadways, with the aim of ensuring safe, sustainable and accessible transportation for all users during a proposed pilot project.

Documentation of the motion that City Council adopted today is available at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.IE7.13

A letter from the Toronto City Manager to the Ministry of Transportation is available at https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2019/cc/bgrd/backgroundfile-138531.pdf#xd_co_f=ODM2YzZiMjYtMzIwZi00MGQ5LTlhZTgtZTNiYTU2Mjg1ZTI0~.

Link to the relevant portion of the Highway Traffic Act (PDF file): https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_950.pdf

Quotes

“We must plan responsibly for e-scooters on our streets with safety and accessibility at the forefront of those plans. I believe this approach to this emerging transportation option will ensure we go about this in the right way that listens carefully to our residents, community groups, and businesses.”

– Mayor John Tory

“We all want safe, sustainable and modern travel options in Toronto. Learning from other cities, we know that success means taking care to develop an e-scooter program for Toronto.”

– Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.9 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit http://www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cityoftoronto, on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cityofto.

– 30 –

Media contact: Eric Holmes, Strategic Communications, 416-392-4391, 416-629-4891 (cell), [email protected]

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All City of Toronto news releases are also available on the City’s website at www.toronto.ca/home/media-room/news-releases-media-advisories/

Toronto Star October 5, 2019

OPINION

Just how dangerous are e-scooters? Early numbers show an injury rate that’s almost 600 times higher than taking the bus

By Duncan Stewart, Contributor

How many Torontonians will be scooter commuters? Fewer than you think.

Although rentable dockless e-scooters (adult sized versions of push scooters with a battery and electric motor) are coming to Toronto soon in a pilot at the Distillery District, new data on safety makes it unlikely that many Torontonians will use them as part of their daily commute.

We could certainly use them: There is a clear need for environmentally friendly modes of transport for short distances and e-scooters and e-bikes — often referred to as micromobility devices —could reduce the number of private car, taxi and Uber trips we make.

Especially those that really don’t need to be car trips at all: as of 2017, 46 per cent of all U.S. car trips annually were for 5 kilometres or less, and 21 per cent were for less than 1.6 km. Assuming a 25 km/h speed limit for scooters, those trip distances translate into 12 minutes or less. I’ve spent longer than that waiting for an Uber or looking for parking!

Both e-scooters and e-bikes are suggested as a way of getting commuters out of cars and reducing congestion: Toronto was recently ranked the North American city with the worst commute, and sixth worst globally. And if scooters are used for daily commuting, not only does that mean fewer cars at peak traffic times, we’d also probably see less-crowded buses, streetcars and subways.

Not so fast.

The Toronto pilot is not the first e-scooter program in Canada: they have been in Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary for a while now… and Calgary is particularly interesting in that Alberta Health Services has been tracking how many people are showing up in  hospital emergency departments due to scooter injuries  since the start of their pilot in July. I was eager to see Canadian data, since I already had data from a study done in Austin, Texas in 2018, and I wondered if scooters had a different safety profile up here.

Before discussing the Calgary findings, we need to put safety of different transportation modes in context. Experts look at the number of deaths and injuries per trip. A massive 2007 U.S. study showed that the combined death and injury rate/100 million trips was about 160 for buses, 200 for pedestrians, 800 for passenger vehicles, and 1,500 for bikes. The Austin numbers were shocking: using the exact same way of counting, the injury rate for e-scooters was 20,000 per 100 million trips. Scooters were 100 times riskier than walking, and 13 times riskier than biking.

Data is still coming in from Calgary, but as of mid-September, 477 scooter riders have been to hospital and have taken a cumulative 500,000 trips. Which translates to an injury rate (no deaths yet, thank goodness, but there have been eight so far in the U.S.) of 95,400 per 100 million trips.

That is not a typo or miscalculation: the Calgary injury rate is nearly five times higher than Austin, and almost 600 times higher than taking the bus. I doubt that the Calgary injury rate is actually that much different from Austin – I expect the differences in our respective medical systems make Canadians much more likely to go hospitals, so the Texas data actually under-reports the true e-scooter injury rate.

How will this affect scooter usage in Toronto over the long run? There are two groups of likely scooter users: tourists and micromobility commuters. Toronto had 44 million visitors in 2017, and many of them come here when our streets are not filled with snow and ice, so scooters may make sense for many of them. And they’re fun to ride! But tourists think about risk and injury differently than commuters: they go hot air ballooning, bungee jumping and ziplining, despite those activities having relatively higher risks. It’s only once or twice, so the overall risk is low. But no one commutes 500 times per year, year after year, by balloon or zip line.

Leave the e-scooters for the tourists – for the rest of us, they look like a greener, faster, and more fun way to get to an emergency room.

Duncan Stewart is the director of research for tech, media and telecom for Deloitte Canada.

Toronto Star October 8, 2019

Letters

E-scooters are a risky way to commute

Numbers are in, and e-scooters look dangerous, Opinion, Oct. 5

Duncan Stewart’s article was a breath of fresh air because it was based on research, not a marketing hype to attract renters and local governments to buy in.

Using e-scooters to get commuters out of cars and reduce traffic congestion in Toronto will soon be tested in a pilot program in the Distillery District. But hold on. Pilots have already been run in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa and Edmonton. And in Austin, Texas. The Calgary results are stunning. Based on hospital visits, it was deemed that it is 500 times riskier to ride the e-scooter than to walk and 65 times riskier to ride an e- scooter than a bicycle. Austin stats were lower, but were possibly related to the fact that injured riders might not as quickly go to the hospital without universal coverage as we enjoy in Canada.

The high injury stats make sense. For an inexperienced user, there is a learning curve of balance, speed and the all-important reading of the situation on the street or path. All of this happening when others are speeding past you on e-bikes, cycles and other scooters and, of course, cars if you are on the street.

Stewart nails it with his last comment: “They look like a greener, funner and faster way to get to an emergency room.”

Mike Faye, Toronto





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More Media on the E-scooters Issue – and – On September 25, Attend Either a Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act or the TTC’s Public Forum on Accessible Transit


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

More Media on the E-scooters Issue – and – On September 25, Attend Either a Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act or the TTC’s Public Forum on Accessible Transit

September 23, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. Yet More Media Attention on the Problems with Allowing Electric Scooters Out in Public in Our Province

There have now been four weeks since we learned about the Ford Government’s troubling plan to allow unlicensed, uninsured people to drive electric scooters in Ontario in a 5-year pilot project. We presented it to Ontarians as a serious disability issue. Since then, the media coverage of this issue just keeps on coming!

Below we set out an article on this subject that was in the September 21, 2019 Globe and Mail. It does not make the e-scooters’ disability issues its focus.

As well, last week, on Friday, September 20, 2019, CBC Radio devoted an entire hour to a province-wide call-in program on e-scooters on its Ontario Today program. Those taking part in that program echoed a number of the concerns with e-scooters that we have been raising. The CBC included a clip from an earlier interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in the program.

We are especially concerned to know what kind of audience our provincial and municipal politicians are giving to the lobbyists for the companies that are lobbying hard to rent e-scooters in Ontario. Those of course are the very companies whose business plan includes people randomly leaving e-scooters on our public sidewalks, creating new barriers for pedestrians with disabilities. We have contended that our public sidewalks are not meant for their businesses’ free parking. Our provincial and municipal politicians should make public their discussions with those corporate lobbyists.

We encourage you to check out the September 12, 2019 brief that the AODA Alliance has submitted to the Ontario Government. Please let the Government know if you support our brief and its recommendations. You can write the Government at [email protected]

2. Come to the Toronto September 25, 2019 Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act

Would you like to know what the federal parties are promising to do, if elected, to strengthen the new Accessible Canada Act and to ensure that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced? If you are in the Toronto area, come to the September 25, 2019 federal candidates’ forum on this topic, organized by the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre, and the Reena Foundation. We set out the announcement below. It includes information on how to sign up to attend this event.

We are hoping that this event will also be live streamed, but details are still in the works. , AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to be a subject matter expert during this debate.

We encourage you to use the AODA Alliance’s brand new Action Kit for tips on how to raise disability accessibility issues in this federal election.

3. Another Chance to Alert TTC to Public Transit Barriers in Toronto

Do you still run into accessibility barriers when using public transit in Toronto? Here is another opportunity to try to press for reforms at the TTC.

Below is the Toronto Transit Commission’s announcement of its 2019 Annual Public Forum on Accessible Transit. It will be held on the evening of Wednesday, September 25, 2019 from 7 to 9 pm.

It is too bad that both this TTC forum and the federal candidates forum on the Accessible Canada Act will be taking place at the same date and time. We encourage one and all in the Toronto area to come to this TTC event, or the federal candidates’ event. Raise accessibility problems you have experienced on the TTC. It is important to shine the light on accessibility issues that continue to plague people with disabilities on public transit in Canada’s biggest city.

Over three years ago, the Ontario Government appointed a new Transportation Standards Development Committee under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to review the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, and to recommend any needed changes to strengthen it. That Committee’s final reform recommendations, which the former Ontario Government under Kathleen Wynne made public in the 2018 spring, were exceptionally weak. If implemented, they wouldn’t significantly improve that very limited accessibility standard.

In its first 15 months in office, the new Ontario Government under Premier Doug Ford has announced no new action to make public transit accessible in Ontario for people with disabilities. It has announced no action on this subject as a result of the Transportation Standards Development Committee’s 2018 recommendations.

This is part of a bigger and troubling provincial picture. The Ford Government has done nothing since taking office to strengthen and accelerate the sluggish implementation and enforcement of the AODA.

Back on January 31, 2019, the Ford Government received the final report of the most recent Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. That was 236 days ago. That report found a pressing need to substantially strengthen the AODA’s implementation. Yet the Ford Government has announced no comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations for strengthening the AODA’s implementation.

Please contact your local media and encourage them to attend the TTC forum. Video record or photograph barriers on TTC you have experienced. Send them to the media. Publicize them on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Use the ever-popular hashtag #AODAfail in tweets about these barriers, as part of our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign.

TTC will again stream this public forum event live. Check out details below in the TTC announcement.

This TTC Public Forum originated in 2008 as a result of the 2007 Human Rights Tribunal order in Lepofsky v. TTC #2. Eleven years ago, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ordered TTC to hold one such event per year for the three years after the Tribunal ruled against TTC in Lepofsky v. TTC #2.

After starting to hold these events because it was ordered to do so commendably TTC decided to keep holding these events once per year, even though TTC originally and strenuously opposed David Lepofsky when he asked the Human Rights Tribunal to make this order.

Since 2011, TTC and all public transit providers in Ontario are required by law to hold a similar event each year in your community under section 41(2) of the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation, enacted under the AODA. If you live outside Toronto, ask your public transit provider when they are planning to hold their annual public forum on accessible transit. If your public transit authority has not done so, please contact Raymond Cho, who is Ontario’s Minister for Seniors and Accessibility and is responsible for enforcing the AODA, and ask that this provision be strictly enforced. This section provides:

“41(2) Every conventional transportation service provider shall annually hold at least one public meeting involving persons with disabilities to ensure that they have an opportunity to participate in a review of the accessibility plan and that they are given the opportunity to provide feedback on the accessibility plan.”

Let us know if your public transit authority elsewhere in Ontario is holding a similar event this year, or did so last year. Email us at [email protected] or reply to this email.

Each year there is an impressive turnout of hundreds of people at TTC’s public forums on accessible transit. Each wants a chance at the microphone to tell their story. Unfortunately, TTC each year uses up far too much time, as much as a third of the time in some instances, making speeches on what a great job TTC says it’s doing on accessibility. We have urged TTC to keep all of those speeches down to a total of five or ten minutes, maximum, to give as much time as possible to the attendees to speak, since they made the effort to come to this event. We hope TTC will listen to this suggestion this time. They have not done so in the past despite our requests.

Under the Human Rights Tribunal’s order, all TTC Commissioners were required to attend each public forum. Since that order expired, many if not most TTC Commissioners have skipped these TTC accessible transit public forums. This is wrong. TTC chose the forum’s date well in advance. Its Commissioners should be able to make it. If hundreds of people with disabilities take the time out of their busy day to come to speak to the TTC Commissioners, the least that those TTC Commissioners can do is to themselves take the time to show up to this TTC community event and listen to the front-line experiences of riders with disabilities.

          More Details

The Globe and Mail September 21, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/alberta/article-politicians-and-planners-look-to-data-for-answers-on-e-scooters/

Cities look to data for answers on e-scooters

By CARRIE TAIT

Staff

CALGARY – Calgarians puttering around on electric scooters flock to Prince’s Island Park, a downtown gem and the river paths. Montrealers favour Old Montreal. And in Edmonton, Whyte Avenue, known for pubs and shops, is a popular destination.

A handful of Canadian cities launched e-scooter pilot projects this summer, writing bylaws with limited data. Even the most basic rule – where, exactly, are riders allowed to scoot – varies from city to city. In Edmonton, for example, scooters are allowed on streets with speed limits up to 50 kilometres an hour, but not sidewalks; in Calgary, sidewalks are in and roads are out.

Now, as summer wraps up, politicians and urban planners have information they will use to rewrite the rules for shared escooters. But the data will do far more than influence speed limits on pathways. It will affect largescale infrastructure plans – the types of projects that cost billions of dollars and take years to complete.

Shauna Brail is a professor at the University of Toronto’s urban-planning program and studies new methods of transportation – think bike-sharing programs and autonomous vehicles – in cities. She anticipates cities will adopt stricter rules around where users can leave their scooters.

“I think we’ll start to see more and more regulations around parking,” Dr. Brail said. “This is one of the biggest pieces of contention.”

Two companies dominate pilot projects in Canada: Lime and Bird. Riders use apps to find and unlock scooters, and are generally charged a flat rate to get started and then pay by the minute. Users in some cities can leave the scooters anywhere within designated boundaries; riders in other cities can park only in specific spots. Some cities allow parking on sidewalks, so long as the scooters do not obstruct the walkway.

Calgary received 62 complaints through its 311 service about abandoned or improperly parked scooters in the first nine weeks of the pilot project. Parking complaints were the second most common reason citizens turned to 311 regarding scooters, behind sidewalk conflicts.

Montreal, which launched its pilot project in August, has already taken action to thwart troublesome parking jobs. Politicians there last week announced plans to fine e-scooter and e-bike users $50 for shoddy parking and Montreal will fine the companies $100 every time a police officer or city official finds one of their respective scooters or bikes parked illegally.

Calgary approved 1,500 scooters for the pilot project launched in the middle of July. Their popularity among users outpaced the city’s expectations. As of Wednesday, riders in Calgary had made a collective 542,374 trips covering more than 1.1 million kilometres. The median trip lasts 10 minutes, according to city data.

Roughly 142,100 unique users have used the e-scooters at least once. After accounting for tourist traffic, city officials estimate this means about 10 per cent of Calgarians have gone for at least one spin. These numbers exclude privately owned e-scooters.

Calgary’s 311 data show the most common concern about escooters stems from riding on sidewalks, which is legal in the city. Concerned citizens, for example, want the scooters to slow down and want the city to crack down on riders who are inconsiderate on the sidewalks, the city said. It counts 112 submissions related to sidewalks.

The 311 data, however, also demonstrate Calgarians are adjusting to e-scooters. Since the pilot’s launch, the city service recorded 281 submissions tied to escooters. Complaints spiked around the third week of the pilot, with 68 concerns registered.

But submissions have dropped every week since, hitting and holding at 15 around weeks eight and nine.

Nathan Carswell, Calgary’s shared-mobility program co-ordinator, said the city will make changes as data flow in. Sidewalk problems, for example, may be alleviated by working with the scooter companies to lower the machines’ top speed in designated areas, such as busy downtown corridors, Mr. Carswell said.

GPS data, injury rates and the degree of conflict with pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, will help shape city infrastructure.

The information, Mr. Carswell said, provides hints on where Calgary should expand its separated bike-lane network, whether sidewalks in some areas should be widened, or whether there are areas where it would be appropriate to allow scooters on roadways, for example.

“I think they are here for the long run,” he said.

In Edmonton, which launched its pilot project in the middle of August, Mayor Don Iveson noted pedestrians, business owners and people with mobility issues have complained about users illegally riding the scooters on the sidewalk.

“It is not going well,” he said.

The mayor has also said if issues persist, Edmonton will reassess whether e-scooters are suitable in Alberta’s capital.

Eddy Lang, the department head for emergency medicine at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, is analyzing statistics related to ER and urgent-care visits related to scooters and bicycle incidents.

There have been 477 visits to Calgary’s ER and urgent-care facilities owing to scooter injuries. Fractures are the most common reason, clocking in at 121 incidents, followed by head and facial injuries, at 83 visits. Visits related to bicycle injuries far outpace scooter visits, but there are far more cyclists than scooter riders in the city.

Announcement of September 25, 2019 Federal Candidates’ Forum on the, Accessible Canada Act

Originally posted at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/accessible-canada-act-candidates-forum-tickets-71795944603

Sep 25

Accessible Canada Act: Candidates’ Forum

By Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena

Wed, 25 September 2019, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT

Join us to learn more about the Accessible Canada Act and to hear directly from federal candidates on potential implementation strategies

About this Event

On June 21, 2019, the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81), received Royal Assent after passing unanimously through the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada.

The act fulfills the government’s mandate promise to introduce new accessibility legislation toward ensuring a barrier-free Canada, though no recommendations have been made to date.

To learn more about the act and its potential implications for Canadians, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena are hosting Accessible Canada Act: Candidates’ Forum that will serve to educate on the importance of the act, its potential outcomes and provide an opportunity to hear directly from candidates on their parties’ potential implementation strategies.

Light refreshments will be served. Kashrut observed.

If you require any special accommodations to attend the event, please send an email to [email protected] before September 20.

Announcement of the September 25, 2019 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit

Originally posted at http://ttc.ca/TTC_Accessibility/Public_Forum_on_Accessible_Transit/2019/index.jsp

The 2019 Public Forum on Accessible Transit is happening this September!

On Wednesday, September 25 the 2019 Public Forum on Accessible Transit is taking place at the Beanfield Centre!

Join us to learn more about Easier Access at the TTC, Family of Services and conditional trip-matching.

For further information on accommodations, booking your trip and the livestream, please head to: http://www.ttc.ca/TTC_Accessibility/Public_Forum_on_Accessible_Transit/2019/index.jsp



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What Pledges Will the Federal Party Leaders Make in This Election to Make Canada Accessible for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities? Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Is First National Leader to Write the AODA Alliance to Pledge to Strengthen the Accessible Canada Act


ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE

NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What Pledges Will the Federal Party Leaders Make in This Election to Make Canada Accessible for Over 6 Million People with Disabilities? Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Is First National Leader to Write the AODA Alliance to Pledge to Strengthen the Accessible Canada Act

September 19, 2019 Toronto: In the federal election, the NDP is the first federal party to write the AODA Alliance to commit to strengthen the recently-enacted Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and to ensure that public money is never used to create barriers against over six million people with disabilities. In its July 18, 2019 letter to the major party leaders, the non-partisan AODA Alliance requested 11 specific commitments to strengthen the ACA and to ensure its swift and effective implementation and enforcement. (Summary of 11 requests set out below). On September 16, 2019, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh became the first, and to date, the only federal leader to answer this request. In the NDP’s letter, set out below, Mr. Singh makes several of the commitments the AODA Alliance sought.

“We’ve gotten commitments from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, so now we aim to get the other federal party leaders to meet or beat those commitments,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. “We and other disability advocates together got the Accessible Canada Act introduced into Parliament, and then got it strengthened somewhat over the past year before it was passed in June. It has helpful ingredients, but is too weak. We are seeking commitments to ensure that this law gets strengthened, and that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced.”

In Parliament, the Liberals have made promising statements about what the new law would achieve for people with disabilities. Commitments are now sought to turn those statements into assured action.

Even though Parliament unanimously passed the ACA, the federal parties were substantially divided on whether it went far enough to meet the needs of people with disabilities. The Tories, NDP and Greens argued in Parliament for the bill to be made stronger, speaking on behalf of diverse voices from the disability community. Last year, the Liberals voted down most of the proposed opposition amendments that were advanced on behalf of people with disabilities.

Last spring, the Senate called for new measures to ensure that public money is never used to create new barriers against people with disabilities. The ACA does not ensure this.

Among the disability organizations that are raising disability issues in this election, the AODA Alliance is spearheading a blitz to help the grassroots press these issues on the hustings, in social media and at all-candidates’ debates. The AODA Alliance is tweeting candidates across Canada to solicit their commitments and will make public any commitments that the other party leaders make. Follow @aodaalliance. As a non-partisan effort, the AODA Alliance does not support or oppose any party or candidate.

The AODA Alliance is also calling on the Federal Government and Elections Canada to ensure for the first time that millions of voters with disabilities can vote in this election without fearing that they may encounter accessibility barriers in the voting process.

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

For background on the AODA Alliance ‘s participation in the grassroots non-partisan campaign since 2015 for the Accessible Canada Act, visit www.aodaalliance.org/canada

September 16, 2019 Letter to the AODA Alliance from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

From: Jagmeet Singh <[email protected]>
Date: September 16, 2019 at 10:54:40 AM EDT
To:[email protected]” <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Seeking All Parties’ election commitments on accessibility for people with disabilities

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to your questionnaire.

Please find the NDP’s response attached.

All the best,

NDP Team

Attachment: NDP Response:  Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

  1. Will you enact or amend legislation to require the Federal Government, the CTA

and the CRTC to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in all the areas that

the ACA covers within four years? If not, will you commit that those regulations

will be enacted under the ACA within four years?

We can do much more to make Canada an inclusive and barrier-free place. As a start, New Democrats will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and strengthen the Accessibility Act to cover all federal agencies equally with the power to make accessibility standards in a timely manner.

The NDP made multiple attempts to include implementation of timelines. During Committee meetings of Persons Living with Disabilities, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us aligned with the leading experts’ proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties. A New Democrat government will work hard to enact regulations to set accessibility standards in a timely fashion.

  1. Will your party commit to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced?

 

Yes, it’s critical to ensure that the ACA is effectively enforced. Once again, the NDP made multiple attempts to ensure the ACA is effectively enforced. During Committee, the Government was presented with overwhelming unanimity on the part of the leading experts and stakeholder groups in the country as to which parts of the bill needed amending. The amendments proposed by us were taken from their proposals. The Government brought no one forward to rebut

this testimony. They listened but rejected almost all of the amendments brought forward by the opposition parties.

  1. Will your party ensure by legislation, and if not, then by public policy, that no one will use public money distributed by the Government of Canada in a manner that creates or perpetuates barriers, including e.g., payments by the Government of Canada to any person or entity to purchase or rent any goods, services or facilities, or to contribute to the construction, expansion or renovation of any infrastructure or other capital project, or to provide a business development loan or grant to any person or entity?

The Liberal government missed a sizable opportunity in C-81. Federal money should never used by any recipient to create or perpetuate disability barriers. We proposed such an amendment during committee hearing.

Our ultimate goal is to help foster a society in which all of our citizens are able to participate fully and equally. We believe that this cannot happen

until all of our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone. The NDP would require that federal public money would never be used to create or perpetuate disability barriers, including federal money received for procurement; infrastructure; transfer payments; research grants; business development loans or grants, or for any other kind of payment, including purpose under a contract.

  1. Will your party amend the ACA to provide that if a provision of the ACA or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility shall prevail, and that nothing in the ACA or in any regulations enacted under it or in any actions taken under it shall reduce any rights which people with disabilities otherwise enjoy under law?

Yes, if a provision of the Act or of a regulation enacted under it conflicts with a provision of any

other Act or regulation, the provision that provides the highest level of accessibility for persons  with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, employment, accommodation,  buildings, structures or premises shall prevail.

  1. Will your party repeal the offending portion of section 172(3) of the ACA that

reads “but if it does so, it may only require the taking of appropriate corrective

measures.”” And replace them with words such as: “and grant a remedy in

accordance with subsection 2.”?

 

We will review section 172(3) of the ACA a take the appropriate corrective measures to make

sure airlines and railways pay monetary compensation in situations where they should have to

pay up.

  1. Will your party assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the ACA to the Federal Cabinet? If not, then at a minimum, would your party require by legislation or policy that the CRTC, CTA and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board must, within six months, establish  policies, practices and procedures for expeditiously receiving, investigating,  considering and deciding upon complaints under this Act which are the same as or

as reasonably close as possible to, those set out for the Accessibility  Commissioner?

Yes. The Liberal government`s Bill C-81 wrongly gave several public agencies or officials far too much sweeping power to grant partial or blanket exemptions

to specific organizations from important parts of this bill. C-81 separated enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over four different public agencies. Rather it should be providing people with disabilities with what they need: the single service location or, one-stop shop..

We will assign all responsibility for the ACA’s enforcement to the Accessibility Commissioner and all responsibility for enacting regulations under the

ACA to the Federal Cabinet.

  1. Will your Party review all federal laws to identify any which require or permit any barriers against people with disabilities, and will your party amend Section 2 of the ACA (definition of “barrier”) to add the words “a law”, so that it will read:

“barrier means anything — including anything physical, architectural,

technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or

communications or anything that is the result of a law, a policy or a

practice — that hinders the full and equal participation in society of

persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental,

intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory

impairment or a functional limitation.”

The NDP has long been committed to the rights of persons with disabilities. It has been our longstanding position that all of government—every budget,

every policy and regulation—should be viewed through a disability lens. The NDP has supported the establishment of a Canadians with Disabilities Act for many years.

  1. Will your party pass legislation or regulations and adopt policies needed to ensure that federal elections become barrier-free for voters and candidates with disabilities.

New Democrats have always fought to remove the barriers keeping persons with disabilities from living with dignity and independence, because when barriers are removed all Canadians are empowered to participate fully in society and we all benefit.

We brought forward amendments to C-81 that require the Accessibility Commissioner to appoint, within 12 months of the bill being enacted, an independent person (with no current or prior involvement in administering elections) to conduct an Independent Review of disability barriers in the election process, with a requirement to consult the public, including persons with disabilities, and to report within 12 months to the Federal Government. Their report should immediately be made public. Additionally, we would require the Federal Government to designate a minister with responsibility to bring forward a bill to reform elections legislation within 12 months of the completion of that Independent Review.

  1. Will your Party eliminate or reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes? Such as eliminating the power to exempt the Government of Canada, or a federal department or agency? If not, will your party commit not to grant any exemptions from the ACA?

 

Nine years ago, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with

Disabilities (CRPD). Though the Liberal government has tabled a new Accessibility Act, its’ exemptions mean C-81 falls short of meeting Canada’s goal of creating an inclusive and barrier-free country. An NDP government will reduce the power to exempt organizations from some of the requirements that the ACA imposes.

 

  1. Will your party develop and implement a plan to ensure that all federally-operated courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Courts), and federally operated regulatory tribunals (like the CRTC and CTA) become accessible.

The amendment we brought forward during the C-81 proceedings would have required the

Minister of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Government, to develop and implement a multi-

year plan to ensure that all federally controlled courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Canada and

Federal Courts) as well as federally-created administrative tribunals become fully accessible to

court participants with disabilities, by the bill’s accessibility deadline. This should adopt and

build upon the work of the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee, which oversees efforts on

accessibility for provincially-regulated courts in Ontario.

  1. Would your party pass the amendments to the ACA which the opposition proposed in the fall of 2018 in the House of Commons, which the Government had defeated, and which would strengthen the ACA?

 

Absolutely! The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of

Liberal half-measures. New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal Party rhetoric.

Summary of the Election Pledges that the AODA Alliance Sought In Its July 18, 2019 Letter to the Federal Party Leaders

The specific pledges we seek include:

  1. Enforceable accessibility standard regulations should be enacted within four years.
  1. The ACA should be effectively enforced.
  1. Federal public money should never be used to create or perpetuate barriers.
  1. The ACA should never reduce the rights of people with disabilities.
  1. Section 172(3) of the ACA should be amended to remove its unfair and discriminatory ban on the Canadian Transportation Agency ever awarding monetary compensation to passengers with disabilities who are the victims of an undue barrier in federally-regulated transportation (like air travel), where a CTA regulation wrongly set the accessibility requirements too low.
  2. The ACA’s implementation and enforcement should be consolidated in One federal agency, not splintered among several of them.
  1. No federal laws should ever create or permit disability barriers.
  1. Federal elections should be made accessible to voters with disabilities.
  1. Power to exempt organizations from some ACA requirements should be eliminated or reduced.
  1. Federally-controlled courts and tribunals should be made disability-accessible.
  1. Proposed Opposition amendments to the ACA that were defeated in the House of Commons in 2018 and that would strengthen the ACA should be passed.



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Tell the Ford Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Brief and Recommendations on the Government’s Proposal to Hold a 5-Year Pilot Project to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario – and – Lots More Media Coverage of Our Issues Over the Past Two Weeks


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Tell the Ford Government if You Support the AODA Alliance’s Brief and Recommendations on the Government’s Proposal to Hold a 5-Year Pilot Project to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario – and – Lots More Media Coverage of Our Issues Over the Past Two Weeks

September 13, 2019

SUMMARY

1. Please Tell the Ford Government If you Support the AODA Alliance’s Brief on the Proposal to Hold a 5-Year Pilot Project Allowing E-scooters in Ontario

Please email the Doug Ford Government as soon as you can to support the AODA Alliance’s September 12, 2019 brief on the Government’s proposal to permit the use of electric scooters on Ontario roads and bike paths for the next 5 years as a pilot project. Even though the Government’s incredibly-rushed 2.5 week public consultation on this proposal ended yesterday, nothing stops you from now writing the Government. Send your email to: [email protected]

It’s best when you use your own words in your email. If you are in a rush, you can simply say:

I support the September 12, 2019 brief to the Ontario Government on its proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario for a 5-year pilot project.

Feel free to copy us on your email to the Government if you wish. Our email address is [email protected]

You can write the Government as an individual. We are also eager for any community organizations to write the Government to support our brief as an organization.

In summary, the AODA Alliance brief calls for the Government not to allow e-scooters in Ontario. It urges the Government 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 have no training, are uninsured and have no license.

E-scooters racing at up to 32 KPH will create serious new public safety and disability accessibility problems. Either 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, despite this, 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 the Province first permitting e-scooters and then leaving it to municipalities to regulate them. Ontarians with disabilities and others who do not 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.

If, despite these serious concerns, the Government wishes to proceed with a pilot, it should be for 6 months, not 5 years. It should be restricted to a small part of Ontario. The residents of an area selected for such a pilot should have to first consent to the pilot taking place there.

To make it easier for you, below we set out the 16 recommendations in our brief. You can read the entire AODA Alliance September 12, 2019 brief on this topic by visiting https://www.aodaalliance.org/whats-new/aoda-alliance-files-a-brief-with-ontarios-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-sh/

We again thank the people who took the time to send us their feedback on our earlier draft of this brief. Their input helped us as we turned that draft into the finished product that we made public yesterday. We are encouraged by the strong support for our concerns that has been voiced.

2. Yet More Great Media Coverage of Our Issues Over the Past Two Weeks

To supplement the recent coverage of the disability concerns regarding the Ford Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario for a 5-year pilot that has been reported in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, City TV news and several CBC radio programs, our accessibility issues have kept getting great media coverage. We set out a sampling below. We also include an item that concerns weak action by the Federal Government on the eve of the current federal election in its early days to implement the brand-new Accessible Canada Act.

  1. The September 9, 2019 Toronto Star included a good editorial that raised a number of concerns that we had earlier raised with the Ford Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters in Ontario. We applaud this editorial, even though the Star did not refer to the specific disability concerns that we had raised and did not mention the AODA Alliance.
  1. The September 10, 2019 Toronto Star included a letter to the editor from AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. It pointed out the additional disability concerns with the Ford Government’s e-scooter proposal that the Star’s September 9, 2019 editorial did not mention.
  1. The Toronto Star’s September 10, 2019 edition also included an article on concerns with e-scooters that were raised at a meeting of a Toronto City council Committee. We were not involved in that committee’s meeting. That article reported on Toronto Mayor John Tory’s commendable reluctance to allow e-scooters in Toronto.
  1. On September 11, 2019, CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning program included an interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on the e-scooters issue. CBC posted an online news report on that issue, based on that interview. That interview supplements the interviews on the same issue that all seven other CBC local morning programs aired one week earlier, on September 4, 2019, with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky.
  1. The September 12, 2019 Toronto Star included another letter to the editor on the e-scooters issue. It voiced strong opposition to allowing e-scooters in Ontario. It did not refer to disability-specific concerns with e-scooters.
  1. The September 9, 2019 edition of the Globe and Mail included an article by the Canadian Press that a number of other media outlets also posted on their websites. It focuses on a number of concerns with new regulations enacted by the Canadian Transportation Agency to address disability accessibility needs in federally-regulated transportation, such as air travel. That article quoted a number of sources from the disability community, including the AODA Alliance. Its quotes of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky are to some extent inaccurate.

The regulation addressed in this article is the first such regulation enacted in this area since Parliament passed the Accessible Canada Act last June. The problems with that regulation exemplify the serious concerns we raised over the past year at the House of Commons and Senate with the Accessible Canada Act leaving the Canadian Transportation Agency with responsibility for creating regulations in the area of accessible transportation. Regulations seem to cater far more to the resistance of airlines and other federally-regulated transportation providers, and too little to the needs of passengers with disabilities.

3. The Ford Government’s Dithering on the Onley Report Continues

There have been 226 days, or over seven months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of Ontario’s accessibility law, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ford Government has not announced any plan of action to implement the Onley report.

The Onley report showed that Ontario remains full of “soul-crushing” barriers against over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities, and that Ontario Government action to redress these has been inadequate.

          MORE DETAILS

List of the 16 Recommendations in the AODA Alliance’s September 12, 2019 Brief to the Ontario Government Regarding E-scooters

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.

The Toronto Star September 9, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/09/09/ontario-can-do-better-on-electric-scooters.html

Editorial

Let’s do better on e-scooters

Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying that two-wheeled electric scooters are finding their way onto streets, cycle paths and sidewalks all over the world.

So Ontario’s plan to regulate them is welcome, and a pilot project is a good way to find out if its rules work or a different approach is needed.

But there are significant problems with the proposal the Ford government quietly posted online last week.

The first relates to speed. That’s both the 32 km/h allowable speed for e-scooters, which is too fast to be safe for riders or the people around them, and the public consultation period.

Originally, the government thought two days would be sufficient for consultation. After an uproar that was extended until Sept. 12, which is still unnecessarily hasty.

The second concern is over the length of Ontario’s pilot project – an astonishing five years.

That’s longer than the mandate of a provincial government and it’s far too long for an e-scooter trial, especially if problems arise here as they have elsewhere. The results should be reviewed after no more than a year to decide whether it should continue, be changed or be scrapped entirely.

The current proposal would limit scooters to roads, lanes and paths where bicycles are allowed and set a minimum age of 16 to ride one.

If these rules go forward, they’ll throw open the door to rental companies that operate like bike-share programs but with dockless scooters that can be left anywhere. Tourists and locals use an app to find and unlock them.

The government’s summary of its plan breezily states that “e-scooters have been launched in more than 125 cities across the United States.”

They’re in Canadian and European cities, too. But none of that has been without considerable controversy and problems.

Chicago has fined rental companies for failing to live up to the rules it set. Nashville just ended its pilot and banned e-scooters entirely.

People in Los Angeles are vandalizing them in protest. And in Paris, a group of victims of e-scooter accidents are threatening to sue the city and demanding stricter rules to deal with the “chaos and anarchy in the streets.”

Even their credentials as a particularly green form of transport are being challenged. Are they replacing car trips or healthier walking?

While the annoyance of e-scooters cluttering sidewalks and creating tripping hazards or riders breaking laws and behaving badly gets the lion’s share of the negative attention, the people at the greatest risk are users themselves. (Most don’t wear helmets and, like cyclists, they really should.) An American study found an emergency room surge in head injuries, fractures and dislocations related to scooters.

All of this is of particular concern in Toronto, which is already struggling with its Vision Zero plan to make roads safer for everyone. There’s a lot of tension on city streets and the addition of scooter rental companies catering in part to tourists unfamiliar with the city’s traffic rules and its many potholes will only add to that.

The province’s pilot project must give municipalities the flexibility they need to manage the challenges of e-scooters and come up with local solutions.

That’s the only hope of reaping the potential benefits of this new form of shared transportation.

Around the world e-scooters have grown faster than the rules to regulate them, much like ride-hailing and home-sharing services. So, yes, let’s get ahead of it for once.

But let’s not pretend we’re starting from scratch. Ontario needs to design a pilot project that learns from mistakes elsewhere rather than simply repeating them.

The Toronto Star September 10, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2019/09/10/ontarians-with-disabilities-on-losing-end-of-e-scooter-pilot.html

Letters to the Editor

Ontarians with disabilities on losing end of e-scooter pilot

Let’s do better on e-scooters, Editorial, Sept. 9

It’s great that your editorial demands the Ford government be more cautious before exposing Ontarians to the dangers that electric scooters pose if allowed.

But you missed key problems.

The Star said “The people at the greatest risk are users themselves.” In fact, Ontarians with disabilities are among those at greatest risk. Rental e-scooters, routinely left on sidewalks in other cities where allowed, are a serious tripping hazard for blind people like me. They are a new accessibility barrier for people using wheelchairs or walkers. Silent e-scooters are also a danger to us blind people when we cross streets.

The Disabilities Act requires the government to lead Ontario to become barrier-free for Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. The Ford government is way behind on this. E-scooters would create new disability barriers.

Those injured by e-scooters aren’t just the users, but innocent pedestrians. Premier Doug Ford promised to end hallway medicine. The hours of waiting to see a doctor in emergency rooms will only get longer as they are cluttered up with e-scooters’ victims, drivers and pedestrians.

If Ontario is to pilot e-scooters, it should have safeguards like your editorial mentioned. We must go further. Ontario shouldn’t run any pilot until and

unless e-scooters’ safety risks are eliminated.

Banning e-scooters from being driven on sidewalks won’t protect us. Such a ban, while needed, is extremely difficult to enforce.

Don’t burden municipalities with cleaning up this mess. Strict provincial rules must ensure our safety.

David Lepofsky, chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, Toronto

The Toronto Star September 10, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/09/09/toronto-committee-wants-e-scooters-barred-from-sidewalks.html

City wants e-scooters off sidewalks

Bird CEO argues temporary ban will make launch impossible

Francine Kopun

The Toronto Star Sept. 10, 2019

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.

Mayor John Tory said he supports the motion, saying it’s meant to preserve the status quo, so Toronto doesn’t have an uncontrolled and undisciplined entry of e-scooters into the market.

Tory said he is concerned about the safety of scooter use and clutter they may create, adding Toronto has many narrow sidewalks and the city must be careful with regulations controlling their use.

The mayor said he has seen scooters littering sidewalks in Austin, Texas, and has asked mayors from other cities about their experiences with the dockless devices.

“They described it all the way from successful to others who would describe it … as a gong show,” Tory said. “We don’t want any gong shows in Toronto, we don’t want people to have their safety imperiled on sidewalks or elsewhere and we don’t want the city to become cluttered.”

Tory said he personally doesn’t think e-scooters should be allowed to be driven on sidewalks, or left helter-skelter there, but he’ll wait to see what city staff propose.

The fact that e-scooters from companies such as Bird and rival firm Lime have no docking stations has led to problems in some cities, with scooters being littered across sidewalks, thrown into bushes and even into bodies of water.

Lyons said that was a problem in the early days of the program, but it’s mostly been resolved. He said the scooters were being left around because the company was hiring workers on contract who were ditching them instead of relocating them in order to save time.

These days, the company uses a more secure method to collect, charge and redistribute the scooters. The program is active in Edmonton and Calgary and is set to launch in Montreal in a couple of weeks, Lyons said.

“The good thing about Canada starting a little bit later is we have now the lessons learned and now we want to be better …. operators,” Lyons said.

The province intends to release regulations soon concerning the use of e-scooters on roads. But it’s up to the city to police sidewalks.

Committee member Mike Layton (Ward 11, University-Rosedale) said the ban on sidewalk use by e-scooters, if council adopts it, would be temporary, until city staff can come up with a more detailed plan.

He said the committee is already thinking of ways to refine it, but they wanted to get out in front of the issue quickly.

“We wanted to make sure that the city’s regulatory regime is out front before one of these companies tried to come into a municipality and impose a system,” said Layton, who supports the idea of docking stations for e-scooters.

The province is looking at a five-year pilot program that would allow e-scooters to be operated in the same places bicycles can operate. It’s looking for feedback by Sept. 12 on the proposal.

The proposed rules would set a minimum age for drivers at 16 and a maximum speed of 32 km/h.

E-scooters, which have been adopted in numerous cities in North America and Europe, are being pitched as a solution to gridlock in big cities and an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, but have proven controversial.

Nashville banned them entirely after a pilot project. In Los Angeles, people are vandalizing them in protest.

The problem is they clutter sidewalks when not in use, presenting obstacles for pedestrians, people pushing strollers and anyone with a visual or mobility impairment.

One U.S. study traced a surge in head injuries, fractures and dislocations treated in emergency rooms to scooter use. And researchers at North Carolina State University found that scooter travel produces more greenhouse gas emissions per kilometre than travelling by foot, bicycle or public transit.

Bird Canada is offering free trials of its scooters in the Distillery District until Sunday.

It expects to charges $1.15 to unlock its scooters and 35 cents a minute to ride them when it introduces the service next spring.

“Hopefully some cooler heads prevail between now and council,” Lyons said.

CBC Radio Ottawa September 11, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/e-scooters-disabilities-ontario-feedback-pilot-project-1.5278879

Ottawa

Scrap Ontario e-scooter pilot, disability advocate urges

Province seeking feedback ahead of proposed 5-year pilot project

The Ontario government is considering a five-year pilot project that would allow e-scooters on the province’s roads, but disability advocates have major concerns with the plan. (Mike

A group that advocates for the rights of disabled Ontarians is urging the province to hit the brakes on a proposed five-year e-scooter pilot project before it begins.

The province has been seeking public feedback on their plan to allow electric scooters on the same roads where bicycles can operate, save for provincial highways.

  • Ontario plans to launch 5-year pilot project that allows e-scooters on roads
  • Why an image problem is slowing e-scooter rollout in Canada

Under the proposed pilot, drivers would have to be at least 16 years old and could not have passengers. The e-scooters could not exceed a maximum operating speed of 32 km/h.

Even with those limitations, allowing e-scooters on the roads will make it harder for people with disabilities to get around, and could lead to more injuries, said David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

“We’ve got lots of proof that these pose a lot of problems,” Lepofsky told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning. “We don’t need to experiment on Ontarians.”

‘An instant barrier’

Many e-scooter rental services around the world allow users to sign out the devices using an app and then — once they’re done with them — simply leave them behind on a sidewalk or other public space.

While Lepofsky’s group has asked the Ontario government to kill its pilot project entirely, it has also come up with 12 draft recommendations should the experiment ultimately go ahead.

They include cutting the maximum speed limit by as much as half, requiring drivers to be licensed and levying strict penalties if the scooters are dumped on sidewalks — though Lepofsky admits that last recommendation could be hard to enforce.

Something can be barrelling at me at 32 kilometres an hour … and I can’t know they’re coming.

“You’re walking down the street, you’re blind, and all of the sudden there’s an instant barrier, a tripping hazard in your path,” said Lepofsky, who’s been blind most of his life.

“Five minutes later it could be gone … how do you prove your case? We don’t have police on every corner just waiting to enforce [that restriction].”

Then, there’s the fact the scooters are largely silent: Lepofsky also wants the e-scooters, if they’re allowed, to emit beeping noises that warn others of their approach.

“Something can be barrelling at me at 32 km/h, ridden at me by an unlicensed and uninsured driver,” Lepofsky said. “And I can’t know they’re coming.”

David Lepofsky, a law professor and chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, says the province should rethink its plans for a five-year e-scooter pilot project. (Tina Mackenzie/CBC)

Safety ‘key consideration’

Lepofsky also questioned the need for a five-year study that would be rolled out from one end of Ontario to the other.

“If you want to see if it’s safe on our roads, you do it for a much [narrower] piece of territory, not the entire province of Ontario, and for a much shorter period — six months or something like that is what we’d propose,” he said.

San Francisco-based Lime has already been lobbying Ottawa city councillors, claiming its dockless e-scooters would be an ideal fit with the city’s stated transportation goals.

The company recently wrapped up a trial rollout at the University of Waterloo, with competitor Bird Canada slated to launch a similar project this month in Toronto’s Distillery District.

  • E-scooter pilot project to launch in Toronto, but major hurdles remain
  • Lime e-scooter pilot project to end in Waterloo

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation declined an interview with CBC News, but said in a statement that all feedback heard during the consultation process “will be taken into consideration before any final decisions on the pilot take place.”

“Ensuring that new vehicle types can integrate safely with pedestrians and other vehicles is a key consideration before any new vehicle type will be allowed on-road,” the statement said.

The public consultation period wraps up Sept. 12.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning

The Toronto Star September 12, 2019

Letters to the editor

E-scooters have no place in current infrastructure

City wants e-scooters off sidewalks, Sept. 10

Toronto is in the throes of a traffic crisis. Deaths and injuries are occurring daily.

To this we plan to add e-scooters, which can travel at 32 kph, into the already-congested bike lanes, to be ultimately discarded on our sidewalks?

Surely wisdom dictates that adding another form of transportation into this chaos is not a move to be contemplated until our city figures out a way to make commuters safe within our present infrastructure. E-scooters? Eek!

Judith Butler, Toronto

The Globe and Mail September 9, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-advocates-say-new-canadian-air-travel-rules-present-greater-barriers/

Report on Business

Advocates of accessible air travel say new rules raise barriers to mobility

By CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS

THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL – Tracy Odell recalls with a mix of pride and pain the sunny spring day two years ago that her daughter got married in California.

Pride in the milestone. Pain at having to miss it.

Airlines, she said, effectively failed to accommodate her disability, a problem that thousands of Canadians continue to face despite new rules designed in theory to open the skies to disabled travellers.

As seating space shrank and cargo doors were often too small for customized wheelchairs, Ms.Odell cut back on the flights she once took routinely for her work with a non-profit.

“My wheelchair is part of me,” said Ms. Odell, 61, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition that gradually prevents forming and keeping the muscles needed to walk, balance, eat and even breathe. “I’m helpless without it.”

“It’s like if someone says, ‘I’m sorry, you can travel but we have to unscrew your legs,’ ” said Ms.Odell, who last took an airplane in 2009.

Her $18,000 mobility device is not allowed in the aircraft cabin, nor can it fit through some cargo doors without being tipped on its side, risking damage. As a result, her husband opted to stay by her side and miss their daughter’s San Jose wedding, too.

Ms. Odell, president of Citizens with Disabilities Ontario, is one of a number of advocates who say new rules ostensibly designed to make air travel more accessible fail to go far enough – and, in some cases, mark a step backward.

“It’s called second-class citizenry. I’ve felt it all my life,” said Marcia Yale, a lifelong advocate for blind Canadians.

The regulations, rolled out in June under a revised Canada Transportation Act – with most slated to take effect in June, 2020 – do little to improve spotty airport service or accommodate attendants and service dogs on international flights, she said.

“These are going backwards,” Ms. Yale said, citing carriers’ legal duty to accommodate. “We wanted pro-active regulations that were going to raise the bar. And in some ways, they’ve lowered it.”

The new rules require travellers to notify airlines anywhere from 48 to 96 hours in advance to receive certain accommodations, such as being guided through security or receiving help transferring from a wheelchair to a smaller, cabin-compatible mobility device. There are currently no rules requiring notification that can jeopardize last-minute travel for work or emergencies.

Many passenger planes’ cargo doors are about 79 centimetres in height – a little more than 2 1/2 – slightly smaller than a typical power wheelchair for youth, said Terry Green, chairman of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities’ transportation committee.

“These aircraft are totally restricting adults who use large mobility devices from travelling,” he said, saying many wheelchairs cannot fit into cargo at all.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) says it will be “monitoring … very closely” a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration study on wheelchair anchor systems, with an eye to allowing passengers to remain seated in the cabin in their mobility devices. A report is expected in the next three years.

David Lepofsky, an adjunct law professor at the University of Toronto, is reminded of the challenges facing disabled passengers by the case of a couple abandoned in their wheelchairs for 12 hours after being dropped at a service counter in the Vancouver airport en route to Edmonton from their home in Nepal earlier this year.

He can relate.

“There are times it takes me longer to get out of the airport than it took to fly here,” said Prof. Lepofsky, who is blind and travels frequently for lectures.

Prof. Lepofsky says he’ll often ask a passerby to guide him to the gate rather than go through the stop-and-go relay he’s experienced with airport and airline agents.

The Canadian Transportation Agency’s stated goals, variously defined as “equal access” and “more accessible” service, conflict with each other, leaving levels of accommodation unclear, Prof. Lepofsky said.

The rules require an airport to provide a disabled passenger with curb-to-gate assistance, except “if the transportation provider is providing that service.”

“It’s good that they spell out what has to be provided; it’s bad that there are so many escape clauses,” Prof. Lepofsky said.

He added that the confusion may be more tolerable if airports were required to install way-finding beacons – which connect with an app on a user’s smartphone via Bluetooth to offer verbal directions (Toronto’s Pearson airport recently added the devices) – or kiosks with audio output, an omission he deemed “inexcusable.”

The new rules come alongside a passenger bill of rights that beefs up compensation for travellers subjected to delayed flights and damaged luggage.

Consumer- rights advocates have said the regulations grant airlines loopholes to avoid payment, while Canadian carriers have launched a legal challenge to quash provisions they argue breach international standards.

Meanwhile, the new accessibility regulations require free travel for an attendant or guide dog in an adjacent seat only on domestic flights, with taxes and fees still applicable. A second phase of the regulatory process, now under way, will consider extending the one-person-one-fare requirement to international flights, according to the CTA.



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AODA Alliance Files A Brief With 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

AODA Alliance Files A Brief With 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

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: https://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 Committee’s 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 and fostering 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. Don’t 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 Diego’s 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 Diego’s 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.

It’s 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 city’s 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 city’s 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 Diego’s 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, Bird’s chief executive called a report about the company’s 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, Skip’s 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, Lime’s 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 company’s progress and was confident it would make its scooters safe and profitable. “I don’t see how that couldn’t 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 Diego’s 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 Diego’s 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.

Lime’s 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 Diego’s 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 Diego’s 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 Beach’s 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 Diego’s 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 haven’t 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 Diego’s Scooter Tryout Gets Off to a Bumpy Start. Order Reprints

 



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Quickly Send Us Feedback On Our Draft Brief to the Ontario Government’s Rushed Public Consultation on Its Proposal to Hold a Five-Year Pilot Project to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Quickly Send Us Feedback On Our Draft Brief to the Ontario Government’s Rushed Public Consultation on Its Proposal to Hold a Five-Year Pilot Project to Allow Electric Scooters in Ontario

September 6, 2019

          SUMMARY

We welcome your feedback by Tuesday, September 10, 2019, on our draft brief to the Ford Government’s rushed public consultation on its proposal to allow electric scooters (e-scooters) in Ontario for a five year pilot project. Our draft brief is set out below. Feedback to us can be sent to [email protected] or on Twitter @aodaalliance

We regret giving you so little time to send us feedback. the Government gave us no choice, since its consultation was just announced last week, and ends on September 12, 2019. We had to battle to get the consultation extended from 48 hours to 2.5 weeks!

We will do our best to address your feedback as we finalize this draft. Please remember that this draft was prepared in a great hurry. Thanks to all who have sent us your feedback on the e-scooter issue, and to the wonderful Osgoode Hall Law School who volunteered to help with our work on this brief.

We have continued to secure good media coverage for the e-scooter issue from the disability perspective. As previously reported to you, we got this issue covered by the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, City TV News, among several other media outlets.

Since then, there has been more coverage. On September 4, 2019, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was interviewed on the e-scooter issue on CBC morning radio programs in Toronto, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, and Kitchener-Waterloo, as well as on Ontario Morning, the program that covers other parts of Ontario. He also pre-recorded an interview for the London CBC morning program. It was supposed to run on September 5, 2019. Capping this off, a clip from one of those interviews was included in an item on the problems with e-scooters that ran on CBC Radio’s national news program The World at 6 that ran at dinnertime on September 5, 2019. All that coverage took place in one week!

There have now been 219 days since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation prepared by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. Doug Ford’s Government has still not announced a plan to implement the Onley report. Instead, it has proposed this troubling e-scooter pilot project which threatens to create even more new accessibility barriers against Ontarians with disabilities.

          MORE DETAILS

Draft AODA Alliance Brief to the Ontario Government on Its Proposal to Hold a Five-Year Pilot Project Allowing Electric Scooters in Ontario

September 6, 2019

Note: This is only a draft and has not yet been submitted to the Ontario Government. Feedback on this draft is welcomed before Tuesday, September 10, 2019. We apologize for this rushed period. The Ontario Government has set an extremely short deadline for submitting input on its proposal. We are rushing to meet that deadline. Send us feedback at: [email protected] or on Twitter @aodaalliance

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. 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 to this brief the Government’s original August 28, 2019 online posting that describes its proposed pilot project.

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 shows that they present serious public safety and disability accessibility problems.

the Ford Government repeatedly emphasized that it is focusing on what matters most to Ontarians. We emphasize that protecting public safety matters most for Ontarians.

E-scooters are motor vehicles, pure and simple. At a bare minimum, if they are to be permitted at all, 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. Regulation of e-scooters can later be reduced if shown to be justified, and that doing so won’t compromise on public safety and disability accessibility.

If, despite these concerns, Ontario were 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.

Just because parts of the US and some other jurisdictions have allowed e-scooters does not mean that they are inevitable in Ontario. Ontario should not repeat the serious mistakes that other jurisdictions have made.

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

This brief will show 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 take new action that would create more disability accessibility barriers, such as by allowing e-scooters, 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 again 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 electric 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, and 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 an appendix 2 to this brief.

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.”

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.

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 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 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

Recommendation #1

If it is not prepared to withdraw its current 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 suppose 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 2, at the end of 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 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 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.

For people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, they are a serious and unexpected tripping hazard. 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 this has been allowed.

As well, leaving an e-scooter randomly on sidewalks presents a serious new 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. The option of going up on the grass or down onto the road in the path of car traffic 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. It would not be good enough for the Government to try to regulate where the scooters are left, e.g. by setting regulations that they not block the sidewalk. This would be very hard to enforce, since police are not on the scene wherever these e-scooters would be left. To the contrary, there needs to be a strict ban in place precluding them ever being left in the sidewalk, given the experiences of which we have learned in other jurisdictions.

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 sales person, to prevent this.

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

Recommendation #2

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 #3

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 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.

Recommendation #4

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 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.

Recommendation #5

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.

Recommendation #6

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.

Recommendation #7

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 can 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.

Recommendation #8

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 older than 18 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 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.

Recommendation #9

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 may well be hoping that it will be much harder to reduce or eliminate them, if already entrenched around Ontario. We anticipate that 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 conducted in Ontario.

If 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.

Recommendation #10

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 #11

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 #12

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. 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.

Moreover, 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.

Recommendation #13

The Government should not treat a ban on riding e-scooters on the sidewalk 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.

Recommendation #14

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

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 since it 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 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 and fostering 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 2 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. Don’t 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 Diego’s 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 Diego’s 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.

It’s 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 city’s 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 city’s 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 Diego’s 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, Bird’s chief executive called a report about the company’s 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, Skip’s 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, Lime’s 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 company’s progress and was confident it would make its scooters safe and profitable. “I don’t see how that couldn’t 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 Diego’s 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 Diego’s 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.

Lime’s 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 Diego’s 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 Diego’s 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 Beach’s 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 Diego’s 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 haven’t 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 Diego’s Scooter Tryout Gets Off to a Bumpy Start.

 



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The Ford Government Admits It Planned a “Compromise of Road Safety” and the Opportunity for Businesses to Expand When It designed Its Controversial Proposed 5-Year Pilot to Allow Motorized Electric Scooters on Ontario Roads, According to a Media Report – Yet The Government Should Never Compromise On Public Safety


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

The Ford Government Admits It Planned a “Compromise of Road Safety” and the Opportunity for Businesses to Expand When It designed Its Controversial Proposed 5-Year Pilot to Allow Motorized Electric Scooters on Ontario Roads, According to a Media Report – Yet The Government Should Never Compromise On Public Safety

September 3, 2019

          SUMMARY

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 Ford Government tried to hold a meager 2-day public consultation on this proposal last week, on the eve of the Labour Day weekend when it is well-known that many are away on holidays. After the AODA Alliance and others in the disability community publicly objected and the media took interest in the story, the Ford Government backed down, and extended this consultation by a short two additional weeks.

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 add the following to that news report’s disturbing revelation:

“We’ve called 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 electric scooters,” said AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky. “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, and 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 right back to the drawing board.

This pilot project raises safety concerns for the entire public, but Ontarians with disabilities are especially vulnerable to this safety risk. E-scooters are motor vehicles, pure and simple. At a bare minimum, 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.

The Government’s proposal to allow e-scooters has secured important media coverage. For example, the article by the Canadian Press, set out below, appeared in the August 31, 2019 Toronto Star as well as a number of other publications.

The AODA Alliance is hurrying to prepare a submission to the Ford Government’s rushed public consultation, and is gathering feedback from the disability community. Feedback can be sent to the AODA Alliance by email at [email protected] or tweeted on Twitter to @aodaalliance

The Ford Government’s rush to deal with its proposal to allow e-scooters stands in troubling contrast to its long delay in addressing the serious barriers that over 2 million Ontarians with disabilities still face. There have been 216 days, or over 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 Doug Ford Government has 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 deeply concerned that the Government’s e-scooter proposal risks creating even more barriers impeding people with disabilities, such as the blight of e-scooters being left to block public sidewalks that has reportedly been a problem in other places where they are permitted. That would present a serious barrier, for example, to blind people and people using wheelchairs on public sidewalks.

The AODA Alliance is spearheading a “Dial Doug” campaign. It is urging members of the public to call or email Premier Doug Ford, and to ask him where is his plan to ensure that Ontario becomes accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. The Ford Government repeatedly says it is focusing on the things that matter the most to Ontarians. We urge the public to call the Premier to remind him that uncompromising protection of public safety matters the most to Ontarians!

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 Toronto Star August 31, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2019/08/30/disability-advocates-raise-concerns-over-ontario-plan-to-let-e-scooters-on-roads.html

News

E-scooters concern disability advocates

Experts say trial program poses significant risks and requires more study

Shawn Jeffords The Canadian Press

A proposed five-year pilot program that would see e-scooters allowed onto Ontario’s roads poses significant safety risks that need more in-depth consideration

than the government is allowing, advocates for disabled residents said Friday.

The Ministry of Transportation floated the idea this week of legalizing e-scooters and allowing them to be driven anywhere a bicycle can operate. The two-wheeled

motorized vehicles are currently illegal to operate anywhere other than private property.

The government’s proposal states that the scooters currently fall short of existing federal and safety regulations.

The government initially offered the public 48 hours in which to weigh in on the proposal, but later extended the deadline to Sept. 12. Accessibility advocates

said the extension still doesn’t allow enough time for meaningful feedback on a plan that poses risks to the disabled and non-disabled alike.

“These scooters are motor vehicles driven in a public space by someone who is not licensed, they don’t have a licence plate and are not insured,” said

David Lepofsky, a longtime advocate and chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. “This presents a safety issue for the

entire public.”

The government sets out a series of rules for the proposed pilot but does not provide a potential start date.

Prospective rules for drivers include a minimum age of 16 and a ban on carrying passengers. The e-scooters cannot exceed a maximum operating speed of 32

km/h, the proposal said. They must also have a horn or bell, front and back lights, and cannot weigh more than 45 kilograms.

Lui Greco, a spokesperson for the CNIB Foundation, which advocates for the blind or people living with vision loss, said that organization was relieved

when Mulroney announced the extended consultation period.

The rules spelled out in the government’s proposal don’t take into account the potential for the vehicles to be improperly driven on sidewalks, he said,

calling such misuse inevitable and noting it poses particular risks for the blind.

“If you’re a person with poor or no sight and something comes at you at 32 km/h on the sidewalk, how quickly are you going to be able to react?” he said.

Greco said some North American cities have legalized e-scooter sharing services and urged the province to consult with those municipalities before proceeding

any further.

Figure:

Currently illegal on Ontario streets, the province is considering allowing e-scooters to be driven anywhere a bicycle can operate. ROBYN BECKAFP/GETTY



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A New Toronto Star Editorial Blasts the Ford Government for Moving So Slowly on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities and Echoes the AODA Alliance’s Objections to Doug Ford’s Diverting 1.3 Million Dollars to the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Problematic Private Accessibility Certification Program


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

A New Toronto Star Editorial Blasts the Ford Government for Moving So Slowly on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities and Echoes the AODA Alliance’s Objections to Doug Ford’s Diverting 1.3 Million Dollars to the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Problematic Private Accessibility Certification Program

August 6, 2019

          SUMMARY

The August 6, 2019 edition of the Toronto Star includes a powerful editorial. It slams the Doug Ford Government for spending 1.3 million dollars on the problematic private accessibility certification program offered by the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF), when the Government should act more strongly and swiftly to speed up the sluggish implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). That editorial can be found below.

We applaud the Toronto Star for this editorial. This is the 16th editorial that a media outlet has run in the past quarter century that endorses some aspect of our non-partisan accessibility campaign, spearheaded since 2005 by the AODA Alliance, and from 1994 to 2005 by its predecessor, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.

This new editorial follows on and builds on the excellent July 24, 2019 Toronto Star article which reported on some of our serious concerns that the AODA Alliance has with the Ford Government’s plan to spend public money on the RHF private accessibility certification program. In the coming days, we will have more to say about our concerns with public funding of that program. This will supplement our July 25, 2019 news release and report on this topic.

This editorial comes 188 days, or over six months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement that was conducted by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ford Government has still announced no plan to implement that report. This is so, even though Ontario Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said that David Onley did a “marvelous job.”

It is time for Premier Doug Ford to suspend its controversial and trouble-ridden plan to divert public money to the RHF private accessibility certification program. It should instead promptly sit down with disability advocacy organizations like the AODA Alliance and other stakeholders, all together at one place and time, to quickly map out a far better plan of action.

There are two ways you can help: First, write a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star to support this editorial. Send your letter to the Star at: [email protected]

Second, join in our Dial Doug campaign. #DialDoug Phone or email Premier Doug Ford and ask him where is his plan to lead Ontario to be accessible to over 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. You can find out what to do by visiting 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/

We always welcome your feedback. Write us at [email protected]

          MORE DETAILS

The Toronto Star August 6, 2019

Originally posted at: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2019/08/06/ontario-should-move-faster-on-tearing-down-barriers.html

Editorial

Buildings must be for everyone

As accessibility advocates constantly warn, we’re all just one illness or accident away from becoming disabled.

And with 1,000 Ontario baby boomers turning 65 every day, more of us will be dealing with aging vision, hearing, hips and knees that will affect our quality of life and make our physical environment more difficult to navigate.

So it’s disappointing that six months after former lieutenant governor David Onley delivered a scathing report on the “soul crushing” barriers that 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities face on a daily basis, the Ford government has yet to develop a clear way forward.

In March, Raymond Cho, Ontario’s minister for seniors and accessibility, finally authorized work to resume on three committees developing accessibility standards in the education and health-care systems.

But, so far, none of the committees have met and no dates have been set.

When NDP MPP Joe Harden introduced a motion in the legislature in May urging the government to implement Onley’s report, starting with the development of new accessibility standards for the built environment, Cho dismissed the idea as “red tape.”

Instead, Cho and the Ford government are trumpeting a two-year $1.3-million investment in a new accessibility certification program developed by the Rick Hansen Foundation.

By certifying 250 public and private buildings, the government says it will raise awareness and encourage the development industry to make accessibility a priority.

We have no quarrel with the foundation’s quest to make the world more accessible for people with disabilities and to fund research into spinal cord injury and care.

But we are concerned about a program that relies on building professionals who have completed just two weeks of accessibility training to conduct the certifications.

And we question why certifications will be given to entire buildings at a time when most accessibility advocates and seasoned consultants say few buildings are fully accessible.

For example, the foundation was recently criticized for awarding a “gold” rating to the Vancouver airport in 2018, even though the building includes so-called “hangout steps” for socializing, which are inaccessible to people using wheelchairs and are difficult to navigate for those with vision loss or difficulty with balance.

Far better for the foundation to give its stamp of approval on accessible design elements that are truly remarkable and worth highlighting as examples for others to follow.

But, for the province to be financially backing such a scheme – particularly when it was not among Onley’s 15 recommendations – is questionable.

Shouldn’t scarce public funds be spent on implementing Onley’s detailed blueprint to ensure that Ontario meets its 2025 deadline for becoming fully accessible

under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act?

As Onley rightly recommends, the province should be developing better provincial accessibility standards for public and private buildings and boosting enforcement of the few rules that currently exist.

And it should make accessibility courses mandatory in colleges and universities to ensure future architects and other design professionals get the training they need.

Just as physicians are trained to “do no harm,” architects and design professionals should be educated to create no barriers.

It’s hard to believe that during one of the biggest building booms in the history of Ontario, there are so few accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code.

Nothing prevents a developer from building acres of single family homes inaccessible to people with disabilities.

And just 15 per cent of units in multiresidential buildings – condominiums and apartments – are required to be accessible.

Ottawa’s national housing strategy aims to ensure 20 per cent of homes created under the plan are accessible. And yet, according to the latest 2017 federal statistics, 22 per cent of Canadians report having a disability, a percentage that will only grow as the population ages.

Clearly, we are not addressing current need, let alone future demand. The Ford government must do better.



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Great Conventional Media and Social Media Coverage Highlight Serious Problems with the Doug Ford Government Plan to Divert 1.3 Million Dollars to the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Controversial Private Accessibility Certification Program


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

Great Conventional Media and Social Media Coverage Highlight Serious Problems with the Doug Ford Government Plan to Divert 1.3 Million Dollars to the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Controversial Private Accessibility Certification Program

July 29, 2019

SUMMARY

In both conventional media and social media, there has already been good coverage of the serious problems that we have publicly raised with the Ford Government plan to divert 1.3 million public dollars to the controversial Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) private accessibility certification program. This helps reinforce our call for the Government to set this plan aside. Instead of this inappropriate use of public money, the Doug Ford Government should act now to implement the helpful recommendations in the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Last week, the AODA Alliance made public its important July 3, 2019 report. It documents serious problems with the Government plan to spend public money on the RHF private accessibility certification program. Our July 3, 2019 report shows that it is an exaggeration, if not inaccurate, to call an RHF assessment of a building an “accessibility certification”. It is an exaggeration, if not inaccurate, to call someone who took a two-week course from the RHF on accessibility and who passed a multiple-choice test an “accessibility professional”. It is an exaggeration if not inaccurate for the Ford Government to claim that public funding for this will remove barriers against people with disabilities.

Our efforts have triggered quite a good early response. In this Update we highlight early attention that our concerns have gotten in conventional media and social media. We also let you know about a recent article in a BC news publication that reinforces our concerns. We also take a closer look at the first public statement to the media that the Doug Ford Government has made in response to our concerns. We show that the Ford Government’s responses do not eliminate our concerns at all.

In this Update we also identify the specific actions we want the Ford Government to now take. What we seek is rooted in the recommendations of the David Onley report, and in election commitments that Doug Ford made to the AODA Alliance and Ontarians with disabilities during last year’s election campaign.

Just before this Update was sent out, we received a letter from Minister for Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho. It responds to the questions about the plan to publicly fund the problematic RHF private accessibility certification program in our July 3, 2019 letter to the Accessibility Minister. We are hard at work analyzing this letter and will address it in an upcoming AODA Alliance Update.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Write us at [email protected]

MORE DETAILS

1. Great Conventional and Social Media Coverage

On July 24, 2019, the Toronto Star online ran a great article entitled “Advocates slam Ontario plan to rate accessibility of buildings.” This article is included below. It reported on several of the serious problems with the Ford Government’s plan to give $1.3 million to the RHF for this. Below we address the Government’s first public responses to our July 3, 2019 report.

As well, on Thursday, July 25, 2019, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was interviewed on the Kitchener 570 News Radio station, as part of the “Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke” show. CFRB News Talk 1010 Radio in Toronto did a news interview with him on July 26, 2019. We have not heard if it was used on the air. At 4:45 pm today, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky is scheduled to be interviewed on CBC Radio 1 in Ottawa.

There has also been quite a positive and vocal reaction to our report on social media. We set out a sampling from Twitter, below, as well as a Facebook post by Optimal Consulting, an accessibility firm that operates in Ontario.

All the feedback we have seen or received from the disability community has echoed and reinforced our concerns about the Ford Government’s plan to publicly fund the troubling RHF private accessibility certification program for 250 as-yet unspecified buildings in Ontario. They have also broadened the discussion with new information. Beyond what they say that is set out in our July 3, 2019 report, we have not investigated or verified facts set out in those posts. We present them to show that there is real controversy swirling around the Government’s plan.

Here are two tweets as examples. They were both replies to the Toronto Star tweeting about its July 24, 2019 article on this topic, which we provide for you later in this Update:

“Liz Hay. @Kurdi @TorontoStar If a building with “hangout steps” can be certified gold under the RHF system, its understanding of #accessibility is hardly gold standard. #AODAfail”

“Thea Kurdi. @TorontoStar Hmmm… as someone who’s been doing #accessibility audits for 18 years we never only use CSA B651 standard, especially in provinces like ON with Ontario Building Code and #AODA . How does a certification that’s not looking at legislation help government & building owners? #a11y

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said it is wrong for the government to fund a private entity like the Rick Hansen Foundation to certify its buildings.

torstar.co/b6aY50vaL06”

One of the tweets set out later in this Update , and that arises from our July 3, 2019 report, brought to our attention an important article in the July 9, 2019 edition of the Delta Observer news publication from British Columbia. We also set that article out below. It reports on a human rights complaint that has been filed with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal against a BC restaurant. A customer with a disability alleges that the restaurant has accessibility problems that amount to a violation of their human rights. The article says the RHF had certified that venue as accessible.

This shows, as we have said, that just because the RHF “certifies” that a place is accessible does not mean that people with disabilities will experience that place as accessible. Moreover, the fact that the RHF “certified” a restaurant as accessible is no defence to a human rights complaint, if the complainant shows that they faced accessibility barriers. Calling this “accessibility certification” is therefore inaccurate.

2. A Closer Look Shows that the Ford Government’s First Official Response to the AODA Alliance Report Doesn’t Refute Our Serious Concerns

What has the Ford Government told the media in response to the AODA Alliance’s July 3, 2019 report on the Government’s plan to fund the RHF private accessibility certification program to assess 250 buildings in Ontario over the next two years? Twenty-two days before we made our report public, we sent it to the office of the Minister for Accessibility and Seniors, Raymond Cho. We asked his office to let us know if there are any factual inaccuracies in our report. We explained that we have done our best to ensure that it is accurate, and don’t want to make any inaccurate statements in that report. We said we’d like to know before we make the report public, in case there is anything we need to correct. Knowing of our request, Minister Cho’s office and ministry has not suggested to us that there was anything inaccurate in the AODA Alliance’s July 3, 2019 report.

The Government’s first public response to the media was in the same Toronto Star July 24, 2019 article that was mentioned in the tweets above. We here take a closer look at that response, which is full of holes. The article’s key passage is:

“In a statement to the Star, Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said the process will be devoid of conflict of interest because those who will conduct the accessibility ratings will not be employed by the government or the RHF.

Instead, Cho said, they’ll be contracted by the foundation as independent professionals who have completed accreditation courses offered by the RHF through George Brown and Carleton University and passed exams conducted by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group).

CSA Group will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate, he said.

Brad McCannell, RHF’s vice-president of access and inclusion, said the foundation’s certification program is impartial and was developed using extensive research on best practices in accessibility.

“When you request (an RHF accessibility certification) rating, you are not hiring the Rick Hansen Foundation,” he said in an email. The qualifications for assessors include a diploma in architecture, engineering or urban planning, as well as a minimum of five years’ experience related to accessibility in building environments, he said.

After the assessment, buildings receive a rating score corresponding to their level of accessibility: “certified gold” if they score over 80 per cent, “certified” if they score between 60 and 80 per cent, and noncertified if they score under 60 per cent. The scorecard includes key elements of success and suggestions for improvement for each assessed facility.

McCannell also noted that the foundation’s program is geared toward industry, not consumers.

“The RHFAC is not designed to assist people with disabilities to find the nearest accessible washroom, but rather it’s an industry program designed to influence professionals in the design and construction industry to recognize the gap between code requirement and the real needs of people with disabilities,” he said.

The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility says it chose the RHF based partly on its track record of conducting such certifications in B.C. and Nova Scotia.”

The Government’s response to the Toronto Star does not disprove any of our serious concerns. We address seven points.

First, we have seen no indication that the Ford Government held any open competitive process before it decided whom it would engage to assess the accessibility of 250 buildings in Ontario. There are a number of accessibility experts in Ontario that have been doing this kind of accessibility advisory work for years. There is no indication whether any of them were considered, or even had a chance to bid on this project. We do not know why a Government, acting responsibly with public money, would choose the RHF assessors whose only required accessibility background comes from passing a multiple choice test after a two-week course. A public bidding process would be a more appropriate approach to the responsible use of public money.

On that issue, the Star article includes this Government response:

“The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility says it chose the RHF based partly on its track record of conducting such certifications in B.C. and Nova Scotia.”

Yet that track record in BC is called into question by the problems with the RHF Gold rating for the Vancouver International Airport (addressed in our July 3, 2019 report), and the RHF’s rating a BC restaurant as “accessible” which is now being sued under BC’s human rights legislation for alleged accessibility problems. (as addressed in the news article set out later in this Update).

Second, according to the Toronto Star, an RHF spokesperson said that the RHF program is geared towards industry, not consumers. That will hardly be encouraging for Ontarians with disabilities. We need an increased focus on consumers with disabilities. Even if it is geared for industry, there is no way the public can know if the RHF assessments are useful since they are being kept secret, unless an organization wants its RHF report made public.

Third, the RHF spokesperson said that the RHF program is “an industry program designed to influence professionals in the design and construction industry to recognize the gap between code requirement and the real needs of people with disabilities.” However, as our July 3, 2019 report highlighted, and as a tweet from Ontario-based accessibility consultant Thea Kurdi notes, it is not even clear that the RHF assessments will cover all accessibility requirements in Ontario provincial and municipal laws. Moreover, the “Code” that organizations must meet or exceed is the Ontario Human Rights Code, and not the inferior accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code.

Fourth, according to the Toronto Star, Accessibility Minister Cho said that “…CSA Group (i.e. the Canadian Standards Association) will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate.” However, the CSA is itself not a government agency. It is a private organization. To our knowledge, the CSA is not authorized under any law of which we are aware to conduct accessibility assessments of buildings in Ontario or to evaluate the correctness or consistency of assessments done by others. We have seen no proof that the CSA has any expertise in that field. It is certainly not an organization that we would advise a government to engage for that purpose.

Fifth, it is peculiar that the RHF told the Star that: “When you request (an RHF accessibility certification) rating, you are not hiring the Rick Hansen Foundation”. This flies in the face of the fact that both the Ford Government and the RHF’s website emphasize the Rick Hansen Foundation’s name all over this process. In the Ford Government’s May 23, 2019 news release (included in the appendix to our July 3, 2019 report), the Government states position that is quite contrary to what it here told the Star, where it says:

“Through this investment, the Rick Hansen Foundation will undertake ratings of 250 facilities.”

It would likely come as a troubling surprise to an organization that had paid for the RHF certification and for permission to post an RHF certification sign on their building, as well as to members of the public who see a “Rick Hansen Foundation” accessibility certification sign in front of a building, that the RHF did not actually certify the building’s accessibility. This is especially so since it appears that a bedrock foundation of the RHF private accessibility certification program, and the Government’s promotion of this plan, is its prominent focus on Rick Hansen’s name and notoriety.

Sixth, assuming that the Star quoted it accurately, the RHF statement to the Toronto Star contradicts its own website where the RHF spokesperson said:

“The qualifications for assessors include a diploma in architecture, engineering or urban planning, as well as a minimum of five years’ experience related to accessibility in building environments…”

The admission requirements to be able to take the RHF two-week course and to pass a multiple choice test to qualify to conduct these building accessibility assessments for the RHF do not require a person to have ” a minimum of five years’ experience related to accessibility in building environments”, as our July 3, 2019 report documents. According to the Guide to RHFAC Professional Designation, posted on the RHF website, the qualifications to take the RHF 2-week course are:

“Prerequisites include the following:

  • You have a diploma of technology in architecture, engineering,

urban planning, interior design or a related program;

  • You have a Journeyman Certificate of Qualification in

a designated trade related to building construction;

  • You are an engineer or are eligible for registration as

an engineer;

  • You are an architect or are eligible for registration as an architect; OR
  • You have a minimum of five years’ experience related to building

construction.”

If we are right, then the RHF statement to the Star is inaccurate on a very important issue, namely whether a person needs to have any accessibility experience before taking the RHF course. As noted earlier, the Ford Government did not tell us that we got any of our facts wrong in our July 3, 2019 report.

Seventh and finally, the Government’s response does not disprove our serious concerns with the twin risk of conflicts of interest that are inherent in this plan. Our report explains that there are two conflict of interest risks:

  1. The RHF can be asked to assess the building of a public or private organization that has given a donation to the RHF, or that offers to do so in the future, or that otherwise signals a willingness to do so. This creates a conflict of interest for the RHF.
  1. The RHF’s accessibility assessors are freelancers. They get hired on an ad hoc basis by an organization to do an RHF accessibility assessment and to submit it to the RHF for its adjudication and approval. These assessors are paid by the job. No doubt, they want to get more jobs. As such, they have an incentive to give more favourable accessibility ratings, so that other organizations will also want to choose them for future certification jobs.

To answer these concerns, the Ford Government told the Star:

“”In a statement to the Star, Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said the process will be devoid of conflict of interest because those who will conduct the accessibility ratings will not be employed by the government or the RHF.

Instead, Cho said, they’ll be contracted by the foundation as independent professionals who have completed accreditation courses offered by the RHF through George Brown and Carleton University and passed exams conducted by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group).

CSA Group will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate, he said.”

These Government statements do not eliminate any of our conflict of interest concerns. The fact that the assessors work as freelancers does not take away the fact that the RHF, which grants the ultimate award or certification in its own name, has a potential conflict of interest, in the case of organizations that may be past or potential future donors to the RHF.

As well, the fact that these assessors are paid by the job as freelancers is the very basis for the second conflict of interest concern listed above. By emphasizing that they are freelancers, the Minister’s statement simply reaffirms this problem.

3. What Should the Ford Government Do Now?

The Ford Government should take a long second look at this plan in light of our concerns, and should cancel it.

It’s time for the Ford Government instead to come up with a plan to implement the final report of the Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation and enforcement conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Ford Government received the Onley report six months ago (or 179 days ago(. the Government has announced no plans to implement that report, even though over four months ago, Minister for Accessibility and Seniors said that David Onley did a “marvelous job”.

To create disability accessibility in the built environment, we call on the Ford Government to act on Doug Ford’s May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance. That is where Premier Ford set out his 2018 election pledges on accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities.

We need Ontario to enact new and modernized accessibility requirements to ensure that the built environment becomes accessible to people with disabilities. The current Ontario Building Code is woefully inadequate. The Onley Report recommended this action. The AODA Alliance has called for this action. On May 15, 2018, Doug Ford pledged:

“Ontario needs a clear strategy to address AODA standards and the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions.”

We need Ontario to require that design professionals like architects be properly trained to design a built environment that is accessible to people with disabilities. The AODA Alliance has recommended this. So did the Onley Report. In his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, Doug Ford wrote:

“We need Ontario’s design professionals, such as architects, to receive substantially improved professional training on disability and accessibility.”

We also need the Ford Government to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers. The AODA Alliance has called for this. the Onley Report did the same. In the 2018 election, Doug Ford promised that there would be an end to mismanagement of public money.

Rather than taking these important actions, the Ford Government took the official position in the Legislature on May 30, 2019 that this is all just undesirable “red tape”. The Doug Ford Government proudly pointed to its alternative plan of providing public funding to the RHF private accessibility certification program.

In the face of this, last week, the AODA Alliance launched its new grassroots “Dial Doug” campaign. It is inviting the public to call or email the Premier at his office (416 325-1941 or [email protected]) to ask for his plan to make Ontario accessible to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. Members of the public are already taking up this challenge.

4. Toronto Star Online July 24, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/17/advocates-slam-ontario-plan-to-rate-accessibility-of-buildings.html

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky, seen on hangout steps he says are inaccessible and difficult for people with vision loss, says it’s wrong for the provincial government to fund a private entity to assess its buildings for accessibility, noting the chosen entity recently gave a “certified gold” rating to a building with such steps.

Advocates slam Ontario plan to rate accessibility of buildings

By Gilbert Ngabo Staff Reporter

A group that advocates for better accessibility standards in Ontario is voicing concerns about the province’s new assessment plan.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance says the plan to conduct accessibility assessments of public and private buildings will remove few barriers and is bound to be marred by conflicts of interest.

In this spring’s budget, the province earmarked $1.3 million to conduct accessibility audits of some 250 public and private facilities over two years. The program will be conducted in partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF).

In a report released this week, the AODA Alliance — a non-partisan coalition advocating for the implementation of the province’s disability accessibility laws — said the government should reconsider its decision.

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said it is wrong for the government to fund a private entity like the RHF to certify its buildings.

“You can’t say, ‘Hey, you’re about to inspect my house, here’s some cash.’ You shouldn’t be allowed to do that,” said Lepofsky, a lawyer and longtime advocate for people with disabilities. “That’s a clear conflict of interest. It’s actually quite troubling.”

Using properly trained government inspectors would be a better choice, he said, as they’d be bound by the established laws of accessibility.

The alliance is also critical of the government for not consulting members of the disability community before unveiling the certification process. Lepofsky said there’s risk of leaving out people whose disabilities are not related to mobility, vision or hearing.

In a statement to the Star, Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho said the process will be devoid of conflict of interest because those who will conduct the accessibility ratings will not be employed by the government or the RHF.

Instead, Cho said, they’ll be contracted by the foundation as independent professionals who have completed accreditation courses offered by the RHF through George Brown and Carleton University and passed exams conducted by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group).

CSA Group will also be responsible for ensuring the ratings are consistent and accurate, he said.

Brad McCannell, RHF’s vice-president of access and inclusion, said the foundation’s certification program is impartial and was developed using extensive research on best practices in accessibility.

“When you request (an RHF accessibility certification) rating, you are not hiring the Rick Hansen Foundation,” he said in an email. The qualifications for assessors include a diploma in architecture, engineering or urban planning, as well as a minimum of five years’ experience related to accessibility in building environments, he said.

After the assessment, buildings receive a rating score corresponding to their level of accessibility: “certified gold” if they score over 80 per cent, “certified” if they score between 60 and 80 per cent, and noncertified if they score under 60 per cent. The scorecard includes key elements of success and suggestions for improvement for each assessed facility.

McCannell also noted that the foundation’s program is geared toward industry, not consumers.

“The RHFAC is not designed to assist people with disabilities to find the nearest accessible washroom, but rather it’s an industry program designed to influence professionals in the design and construction industry to recognize the gap between code requirement and the real needs of people with disabilities,” he said.

The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility says it chose the RHF based partly on its track record of conducting such certifications in B.C. and Nova Scotia.

But Lepofsky pointed to the Vancouver airport — a RHF “certified gold” rated building in 2018 — as a reason for caution.

In a RHG tweet announcing the rating, a photo shows “hangout steps” for socializing at the airport, which are inaccessible to people using wheelchairs or other mobility devices and are difficult for people with vision loss or balance issues, he said.

Lepofsky, who raised the problem of hangout steps in Ryerson University’s Student Learning Centre in an online video in 2017, questioned how a public building with hangout steps can deserve a gold rating for accessibility.

“It is troubling that this gold rating signals to the Vancouver International Airport and to the public that having hangout steps is fine from an accessibility perspective,” he said. “It is also troubling that it signals to design professionals that they should feel free to include them in other buildings without worrying that it raises any accessibility concern.”

The provincial government continues to draw criticism from accessibility advocacy communities and experts over AODA.

Earlier this year, former lieutenant-governor David Onley issued a report on the implementation of the 14-year-old act, in which he observed that people with disabilities are still facing “soul-crushing” barriers in Ontario. The goal of achieving the fully accessible Ontario by 2025 is “nowhere in sight,” Onley’s report concluded.

This month, 21 disability organizations across Ontario sent a letter to the premier decrying a long-standing lack of leadership on the accessibility file and calling for a concrete plan of action on the recommendations from the Onley report.

“The Doug Ford government in the past year has done absolutely nothing new to speed up and strengthen the implementation of the AODA. Absolutely nothing,” Lepofsky said.

“We think (the building certification plan) is just a big distraction rather than doing their job.”

With files from Laurie Monsebraatan

Gilbert Ngabo is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @dugilbo

5. The Delta Optimist July 8, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.delta-optimist.com/news/human-rights-tribunal-to-hear-disabled-customer-s-complaint-about-pat-quinn-s-1.23877536?fbclid=IwAR2YQfRum15xPmepCS7c10T4gO7lDhS-bJUfBimDOggHjSK5zzRiUBoB7mg

BC Human Rights Tribunal to hear disabled customer’s complaint about Pat Quinn’s

An accessibility complaint against Pat Quinn’s Restaurant & Bar will go before the Human Rights Tribunal later this year.

The complaint has been filed by Tsawwassen’s Vince Miele who uses a wheelchair and has long been an advocate for people with disabilities.

According to his application, in February 2016 he made a reservation for four and informed the Tsawwassen Springs restaurant that one in the party uses a wheelchair.

When he arrived, he found his friends had been seated at a table in the lower area of the restaurant, but he was unable to independently join them because of three stairs. A server offered to help him down the stairs, but that was not feasible.

As a result, his friends were moved to the upper level of the restaurant. He said the experience attracted undue attention from other diners and that it was an “incredibly embarrassing experience.”

After the incident, Miele contacted the restaurant to complain about the lack of access to the lower floor.

“I received less than a satisfactory response and in correspondence with others looked originally at a class-action lawsuit,” Miele told the Optimist. “The commissioner of the tribunal determined that a class-action complaint was a lot more complicated. They felt they would not accept it as a class-action, but continue it at the Human Rights Tribunal.”

In January, an application was made to dismiss the complaint, but that was denied, so it will now be heard before the tribunal in November.

Miele said since he started the complaint process three years ago, the restaurant has made some improvements, including installing an automatic door opener from the parkade to the elevator and a door to enable access to the patio. As well, it now has a portable ramp, but Miele contends that does not meet the building code and a permanent ramp should be installed to meet all accessibility standards.

“We’re very surprised by all of this. It’s a shame because it is a great restaurant and we love going there,” he said. “I’m not in this to harm the reputation of the restaurant. I thought it was an oversight when I first wrote to them in good faith and thought it would be corrected.

“Three years later we are still waiting. What are we to think? I’m adamant about what I want and so are they and that’s why we are heading to a hearing. To design something like this so poorly is quite surprising. It should be inclusive and accessible for all and it’s not.”

Dave Symington also wrote to the Optimist about a similar experience he had at the restaurant in May.

“It’s surprising that a building this new still did not take into account that people with mobility-related disabilities might want to use the lower and main portion of the restaurant,” he said. “The building code specifically states that where there is a change in floor levels it must be made accessible, which means a permanent ramp or other means where an individual can independently access the area. If we have to make a fuss about sitting in an area that anyone else can, we are not being accommodated fairly.”

Through its legal counsel, Tsawwassen Springs provided a written response to the Optimist.

“We engaged the services of professional engineers and architects who created the building plans for the construction of Pat Quinn’s Restaurant & Bar along with the entire building in which the restaurant is situate, which plans were in full compliance with the then current B.C. Building Code including the accessibility requirements provided therein,” said the response.

“Those building plans were approved by the City of Delta, whose representatives issued all necessary permits. The building, including the restaurant, is Accessibility Certified by the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program.

“We will not be providing any further comment while this matter is being considered by the tribunal.”

6. Sampling of Recent Tweets

Liz Hay. @tkurdi @TorontoStar If a building with “hangout steps” can be certified gold under the RHF system, its understanding of #accessibility is hardly gold standard. #AODAfail

J E Sleeth. @DavidLepofsky @fordnation @HonDavidOnley Excellent article @TorontoStar re. #aoda #ford giving $ 2 @RickHansenFdn which is not bona fide #accessibility nor a means 2 have private sector be #openforbusiness to #peopleofallabilities it’s not just the #wheelchair

Joel Harden. $1.3 million for accessibility audits will not rid Ontario of the “soul-crushing” barriers that exist. We need immediate action to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025, not meager investments.  #onpoli #AODA https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/24/advocates-slam-ontario-plan-to-rate-accessibility-of-buildings.html

thestar.com/news/gta/2019/… Twitter Web App

Allen Mankewich.  This thread highlights concerns with the RHF’s Accessibility Certification Program and reveals a lot of what I’m hearing in private conversations. Thanks  @mssinenomine for compiling the thread, and thanks  @DavidLepofsky for releasing a report exposing issues with this program.  https://twitter.com/mssinenomine/status/1154420373187751936 twitter.com/mssinenomine/s…

Michelle Sanders.  #Ontario to allocate $1.3 million to  #accessibility audits in partnership with  @RickHansenFdn . Accessibility Certification requirements not available to the public + not based on public consult. What are we doing?? @fordnation @aodaalliance @AODAontario https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/07/24/advocates-slam-ontario-plan-to-rate-accessibility-of-buildings.html thestar.com/news/gta/2019/… Twitter for iPhone

Micaela Evans A case is heading to the BC Human Rights Tribunal soon that touches on these important issues of the certification https://twitter.com/micievans13/status/1154622550682456064?s=20

Gabrielle Peters The building is accessibility certified by the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿.  Check out the  @aodaalliance report at the top of this thread detailing this wasteful use of public money and their “Dial Doug” campaign

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿.  Trust the Doug Ford government to come up with a way to look like it’s doing something about accessibility when all its doing is spending money on a private foundation to ensure it makes the government look like it’s doing something. Ontario taxpayers deserve better.     #onpoli

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿.  Unlike the government this private foundation has no obligation to make anything public. Ontarians won’t know which buildings are rated, or how they’re rated. The Ford gov will release results as it sees fit. There is no enforcement for buildings that fail. This fails us all.

While slashing education and health care the Doug Ford government is paying a private foundation 1.3 million to rate 250 buildings. That’s $5,200 per building. Government inspectors already employed could do this. Is this an attempt to ensure that these buildings pass?

Dorothy Ellen Palmer ♿.  To work as a building accessibility certfier for RHF all you have to do is take a two week course and pass a multiple choice test. Then you’re fully trained to certify every single building you see as accessible or accessible enough for Doug Ford’s purposes. Right.  #Accessibilty

Further to the detailed work of BC’s @mssinenomine Ontario disability activists also reject this ridiculously expensive private accessibility certification company that essentially does nothing but make itself money. twitter.com/DavidLepofsky/…

Thea Kurdi.  To move the needle on  #accessibility , enforce existing laws but face reality we need to radically rewrite building codes. Older buildings need audits using detailed requ’ts from several standards to get even close to Human Rights. After renos *maybe then ready for celebration.

Thea Kurdi.  My career has been focused on trying to remove barriers people with disabilities unjustly face in built environments. I wish we were ready for whole building certification by now, but current standard practice & building codes don’t create accessible places. Love encouraging…

…and celebrating progress but at best we are only ready to celebrate features. Areas of most progress? Bathrooms, service desks, parking, signage, but rarely more than minimum, & not what we’ve known for decades is needed. #Education is far more valuable than certification.

Thea Kurdi.  …this report from  @aodaalliance raises many reasonable questions. And for those who don’t know much about  #accessibility in buildings I understand wishing one national standard, like the CSA B651, would cover everything. Sadly, it does not. Why? Read:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-insider-secrets-whats-stopping-full-inclusion-design-thea-kurdi/ linkedin.com/pulse/top-insi…

People have been asking what I think of new RHF certification program. I can see why business & government are attracted to what looks like an easy solution to a complex problem that they want to solve. I can see why people like the idea of celebrating through recognition. But… twitter.com/DavidLepofsky/…

Thea Kurdi.  @TorontoStar Hmmm… as someone who’s been doing  #accessibility audits for 18 years we never only use CSA B651 standard, especially in provinces like ON with Ontario Building Code and  #AODA . How does a certification that’s not looking at legislation help government & building owners?  #a11y

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said it is wrong for the government to fund a private entity like the Rick Hansen Foundation to certify its buildings. torstar.co/b6aY50vaL06

7. Facebook Post by Optimal Consultants, an Ontario-Based Accessibility Consulting Firm

Originally posted at https://www.facebook.com/93712137122/posts/10156628031122123/

(Note: The AODA Alliance has not investigated or verified any statements in this post)

Please read my article in Linked In and in Facebook yesterday about the @RickHansen certification system being flawed. This includes “auditors” who have no formal education in the areas of ergonomics, human factors, psychology or design. As mentioned yesterday we are aware of 1 very important building in Meadowvale Ontario that was deemed by RHF to be accessible and received an award (which is clearly displayed in the building owners website – (note the building is owned by and managed by a real estate company. The certification and award were not in any way pursued by the FI business who leases the building). The two formal audits conducted by Optimal Performance Consultants and paid for by the FI in the building found the building to not meet even basic #OntarioBuildingCode #BarrierFreeDesign let alone provide accessibility for people of ALL abilities. Remember, accessible and inclusive design is NOT just about the #Wheelchair  We stand by our University educated, experienced and professional Auditors at Optimal Performance Consultants.  Optimizing human performance through the built environment for 30 years.  [email protected]





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During National Access Abilities Week, Ontario NDP Accessibility Critic Joel Harden Presented a Proposed Resolution for Debate in the Legislature that Called On the Ford Government to Create a Plan to Implement the Report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the Implementation and Enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act – There are Many Good Reasons Why the Ford Government Should Support this Proposed Resolution


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

During National Access Abilities Week, Ontario NDP Accessibility Critic Joel Harden Presented a Proposed Resolution for Debate in the Legislature that Called On the Ford Government to Create a Plan to Implement the Report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the Implementation and Enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act – There are Many Good Reasons Why the Ford Government Should Support this Proposed Resolution

June 10, 2019

SUMMARY

A Commendable Effort to Advance the Goal of Accessibility for 1.9 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

Marking Canada’s National Accessibility Abilities Week, Ontario NDP MPP and Accessibility Critic Joel Harden proposed a resolution in the Ontario Legislature for debate on Thursday May 30, 2019. The resolution called on the Government to come up with a plan to implement the report of David Onley’s Government-appointed Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The proposed resolution stated:

“That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should release a plan of action on accessibility in response to David Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that includes, but is not limited to, a commitment to implement new standards for the built environment, stronger enforcement of the Act, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new accessibility barriers.”

We appreciate MPP Harden’s bringing forward this proposed resolution for debate in the Legislature. This is an important issue for over 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities.

The Onley report found that Ontario remains full of soul-crushing accessibility barriers. It concluded that Ontario is still mostly inaccessible to people with disabilities, and is not a place where people with disabilities can fully participate as equals. It recommended strong new action to substantially speed up progress in Ontario on accessibility, so that Ontario can reach the goal of full accessibility by 2025, the deadline which the AODA imposes.

Why the Ford Government Should Support MPP Joel Harden’s Proposed Resolution

For several reasons, the Ford Government has every reason to find this proposed resolution agreeable, and to support it:

* Last December, Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho stated that the Government was awaiting the Onley Report before it decided how it would proceed in the area of disability accessibility. the Ford Government has now had the Onley Report in its hands since January 31, 2019, a total of 131 days. The Government has shown itself ready and willing to act decisively and very quickly on issues that it considers important.

* The Ford Government has been eager to show voters that it takes a different and better approach to governing Ontario than did the previous Government. The Onley Report shows that the former Government did a poor job of implementing and enforcing the AODA. The new Ford Government has an incentive to do a much better job at this.

* On April 10, 2019, Ontario’s Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho said that David Onley did a “marvelous job” in this report. Speaking for the Ford Government in the Legislature, the minister acknowledged that Ontario is not yet even 30% along the way to becoming accessible.

* MPP Harden’s proposed resolution in key ways tracks commitments that Doug Ford and the Ontario Conservatives made to Ontarians with disabilities during the 2018 Ontario general election. It is in line with the Ford Government’s core messages:

  1. In his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance (set out below), spelling out the PC Party’s election pledges on accessibility, Doug Ford committed that our issues regarding accessibility “are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus and Candidates.”
  1. In his May 15, 2018 letter, Doug Ford recognized:

“Too many Ontarians with disabilities still face barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education, use our healthcare system, buy goods or services, or eat in restaurants.”

The Onley Report reached the same conclusion.

  1. The Onley Report found that Ontario is clearly not on schedule to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. In his May 15, 2018 letter, Doug Ford committed:

“Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government.”

  1. MPP Harden’s proposed resolution calls for a new plan of action for improved enforcement of the AODA, as the Onley Report recommended. In his May 15, 2018 letter, Doug Ford committed:

“An Ontario PC government is committed to working with the AODA Alliance to address implementation and enforcement issues when it comes to these standards.”

  1. MPP Harden’s proposed resolution calls for new accessibility standards in the area of the built environment and new accessibility training for design professionals (such as architects). The Onley Report showed the need for such actions. In his May 15, 2018 letter, Doug Ford pledged:

“Ontario needs a clear strategy to address AODA standards and the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions. We need Ontario’s design professionals, such as architects, to receive substantially improved professional training on disability and accessibility.”

  1. Mr. Harden’s proposed resolution calls for a plan to ensure that public money is never used to create new disability barriers. The Ford Government has emphasized that it wants to ensure that public money is always used responsibly. In his May 15, 2018 letter to the AODA Alliance, Doug Ford promised a change from the ” government mismanagement” of the previous Government. No one disputes that using public money to create new accessibility barriers is a form of “government mismanagement.”

* Such resolutions in the Legislature are not legally binding. However, they can be viewed as a strong political statement. The Ford Government should not want to be seen as voting against so straightforward a resolution that is important to so many Ontarians, especially since it has repeatedly called itself the “Government for the People.”

* The proposed resolution was worded in a neutral and tempered way. It gives the Government a great deal of flexibility on what it could include in a plan to implement the Onley Report, on what to include in an accessibility standard to address the built environment, on how to strengthen AODA enforcement, and on how to ensure that public money is no longer used to create new accessibility barriers. The resolution’s wording neither states nor implies any criticism of the Government, nor any partisan arguments or claims against the Ford Government.

* When the Ontario Conservatives last formed a government in Ontario, under Premier Mike Harris, they voted for each of the three resolutions on proposed accessibility legislation that the opposition presented in the Legislature on behalf of the AODA Alliance’s predecessor coalition, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee. For a trip down memory lane, check out the text of the different resolutions which the Ontario Legislature unanimously passed on May 16, 1996, October 29, 1998 and November 23, 1999 regarding the need for accessibility legislation in Ontario.

What Happened in the Legislature on the Day Before It Was to Debate Joel Harden’s Proposed Resolution?

How would the Ford Government respond to this proposed resolution? On May 29, 2019, the day before Mr. Harden’s proposed resolution was scheduled to be debated in the Legislature, Mr. Harden raised this in Question Period. He Pressed the Government to commit to action to make disability accessibility a priority, given that it was then National Access Ability Week. Below we set out the transcript of the exchange that day during Question Period. We offer these observations about that exchange:

  1. Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho stated:

“Last week, we announced further details of our plan to partner with the Rick Hansen Foundation on their building certification program. This $1.3 million that we’re investing will allow us to perform accessibility audits on over 200 buildings over the next two years.”

The Government has elsewhere said this would lead to certification or audit of 250 buildings over two years.

We have serious and substantial concerns with this. First, as reiterated in our May 17, 2019 AODA Alliance Update, we have for years made it clear that we do not agree with investing public money in a private accessibility certification process, no matter who is operating it. It is an inappropriate use of public money. The Government should instead spend that money on AODA implementation and enforcement.

Second, the minister said that the Rick Hansen Foundation is conducting those building audits as “us” i.e. the Ontario Government. Yet there is no public accountability for this private accessibility certification process, for the measures of accessibility it chooses to use, and for how it goes about its business. If the Ontario Government is to do a building audit, it should be conducted by public auditors with a public mandate and public accountability, based on accessibility standards that the public sets through the Government.

  1. Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho understandably blamed the previous Liberal Government for insufficient action on accessibility. However, the minister then cast some of the blame on the New Democratic Party for the former Liberal Government’s poor record on accessibility. The minister said:

“The previous government for the last 15 years did very little, like the Honourable David Onley said. The last 15 years, the NDP supported the last government, so you are on the same team.

The soul-crushing barriers Mr. Onley outlined were also highlighted in the first two AODA reviews by Charles Beer and Mayo Moran. This report is an indictment of the previous government, which your party supported for 15 years.”

While we don’t wade into partisan political bickering in the Legislature, we are not aware of any support by the NDP of the former Government’s slow action on accessibility. To the contrary, the NDP helped us press the previous Liberal Government to take swifter action on accessibility.

  1. The Minister for Accessibility and Seniors also stated:

“Our government is carefully reviewing Mr. Onley’s report, which we made public faster than either previous report.”

It is true that the Ford Government made public the Onley Report quicker than the previous Government made public the 2010 AODA Independent Review by Charles Beer or the 2014 AODA Independent Review report by Mayo Moran.

However, by May 29, 2019, the date of this exchange in Question Period in the Legislature, the Ford Government had had ample time to study the Onley Report and arrive at a plan of action.

So—What Happened with Joel Harden’s Proposed Resolution?

So, what happened to Joel Harden’s proposed resolution? Was it passed or defeated during

debates in the Legislature on May 30, 2019? For the answer to this suspenseful question, watch for the next AODA Alliance Update. Same AODA Alliance time. Same AODA Alliance channel!

Below we set out:

* The text of NDP MPP Joel Harden’s resolution that he presented to the Ontario Legislature on May 30, 2019.

* NDP MPP Joel Harden’s May 27, 2019 news release, announcing that his proposed resolution would be debated in the Legislature on May 30, 2019

* NDP MPP Joel Harden’s guest column in the May 30, 2019 Ottawa Citizen. It explained the resolution that Mr. Harden was seeking to get the Legislature to pass that day. It refers, among other things, to the AODA Alliances efforts on accessibility, and to the online video about public transit accessibility barriers that we made public in May, 2018, and

* A transcript of the May 29, 2019 question that MPP Joel Harden asked the Ford Government during Question Period regarding his proposed resolution on the AODA.

* Text of the May 15, 2018 letter from PC Leader Doug Ford to the AODA Alliance, setting out his party’s 2018 election promises on disability accessibility.

          MORE DETAILS

Text of the Private Member’s Motion by Joel Harden, NDP Accessibility Critic, Debated in the Ontario Legislature on May 30, 2019

That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should release a plan of action on accessibility in response to David Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that includes, but is not limited to, a commitment to implement new standards for the built environment, stronger enforcement of the Act, accessibility training for design professionals, and an assurance that public money is never again used to create new accessibility barriers.

May 27, 2019 Ontario NDP News Release

May 27th, 2019

NDP MPP for Ottawa Centre calls on Ford to implement recommendations from AODA third review

QUEEN’S PARK — The Ontario NDP critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities, Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre), held a press conference today to introduce his private member’s motion, which calls on the Ford government to implement key recommendations from David Onley’s third legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

“The over 1.9 million Ontarians who live with disabilities face constant barriers to their participation in areas including employment, education, health care and recreation,” Harden said. “As the population ages, the number of people living with a disability will grow.”

The AODA seeks to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025; every three years, an independent reviewer is appointed to assess the Act’s effectiveness.

“Former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s third legislative review of the AODA, which was informed by consultations with the disability community and tabled in the Legislature on March 8, makes the disconcerting assertion that, ‘For most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity, but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers,’” said Harden.

“The Liberals dragged their feet on meeting the AODA’s target, and now the Ford Conservatives are dragging Ontario further backwards, neglecting to lay out a plan of action to implement Onley’s recommendations. The recommendations include a commitment to implementing new standards for Ontario’s built environment, stronger enforcement of the AODA, accessibility training for design professionals such as architects and an assurance that public funds won’t be used to create new accessibility barriers.”

At the conference, Harden was joined by Shanthiya Baheerathan of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario and Kate Chung of the Older Women’s Network, who both spoke about the need for a more accessible Ontario.

“I, myself, had to fight for years to have my disability recognized and accommodated by my university, and in that process I lost years of my life,” Baheerathan relayed. “Enforcing AODA would work towards ensuring that no other 18-year-old need to waste time overcoming barriers and advocating for an accessible space to learn. Instead, they could use that time and energy to actually learn.”

Chung said it won’t cost the government anything to change building code standards to ensure housing is built accessibly for the many Ontario seniors and people with disabilities who need it. “Yet, it will save millions in health care dollars for vast numbers of people, it will reduce the demand for long-term care beds, and end ‘bed-blocking’ in hospitals.”

“Ontarians with disabilities deserve to have a government that listens to their needs and takes concrete action to reduce the barriers that prevent them from enjoying a full life. The Ford government must act now and implement the Onley report’s key recommendations,” Harden said.

Harden’s motion will be debated in the Legislature on May 30.

Ottawa Citizen May 30, 2019

Originally posted at: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/harden-ontarios-accessibility-standards-are-falling-woefully-short

Harden: Ontario’s accessibility standards are falling woefully short

Joel Harden

Outgoing Ontario Lieutenant-Governor David Onley is saluted while arriving for his last full day in office at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Monday, September 22, 2014. A former Ontario lieutenant-governor tasked with reviewing the disability legislation says the province is nowhere near meeting its stated goal of full accessibility by 2025. Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS

For an able-bodied person, whether the pillars on the platform of a train station or bus stop are straight or angled is easily taken for granted. For someone who is sight impaired, an angled pillar can mean the difference between constantly bumping one’s head or shoulder on a part of the pillar that can’t be anticipated by a cane, or being able to commute without threat of pain or injury.

This distinction, which David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, demonstrates in a video he posted online last spring, is just one of countless examples of Ontario’s standards of accessibility falling short of the disability community’s needs.

For the more than 1.9 million Ontarians who live with disabilities, lack of accessibility is an ongoing barrier to participation in things like education, employment, transit and recreation. From public space design to health care to public information, Ontario’s accessibility standards are nowhere near where they need to be to meet peoples’ needs, nor where the province pledged they would be in the 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

On Thursday, the legislative assembly at Queen’s Park will debate my private member’s motion, which calls on the Ford government to implement key recommendations from the third legislative review of the AODA. The AODA mandates the standards that public, private and non-profit sector entities must adhere to in the areas of customer service, public space design, communications, transportation and employment. It has set a firm deadline to make Ontario fully accessible for people with disabilities by the year 2025 — a target that, in 2019, no longer feels far off.

To ensure the AODA stays on track, every three years, an independent, non-partisan reviewer is appointed to consult with the disability community and assess whether the AODA and its standards are doing what they’re supposed to do — making Ontario more accessible — plus recommending additional steps as needed, to meet the 2025 obligation.

Conducted by David Onley, the former lieutenant governor of Ontario and a disability rights advocate, the AODA’s third review should be a major call to action for Ontarians, and certainly, for the Ford government. Onley’s report paints a grim picture of the status quo for people with disabilities in this province, and portrays the sluggish pace at which Ontario is moving when it comes to setting or enforcing accessibility standards.

In his report, submitted to the Ford government on Jan. 31, 2019, Onley writes that the AODA’s vision has turned out to be “a mirage.”

“Every day, in every community in Ontario, people with disabilities encounter formidable barriers to participation in the vast opportunities this province affords its residents – its able-bodied residents,” he writes. “For most disabled persons, Ontario is not a place of opportunity but one of countless, dispiriting, soul-crushing barriers.”

Onley’s words echo the frustrations I heard from the dozens of Ontarians living with disabilities who traveled from across the province to attend an April 10 town hall on accessibility that our office held at Queen’s Park. Several of my fellow NDP MPPs joined Lepofsky, Sarah Jama, co-founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, and myself, to listen to account after account of people fed up with Ontario’s agonizingly slow progress towards accessibility. Many spoke of the daily barriers they face that stop them living full lives.

Onley’s key recommendations to the government include committing to implementing new standards for our built environment, stronger enforcement of the AODA, accessibility training for design professionals and an assurance that public money never again be used to create new accessibility barriers.

The Ford Conservatives should establish a clear plan of action for getting Ontario on track to meet its AODA obligations. I invite the government to vote with the NDP on Thursday, and implement Onley’s key recommendations right away, so that Ontarians with disabilities no longer have to wait to live the full lives they deserve.

Joel Harden is the Ontario NDP critic for accessibility and persons with disabilities, as well as

the MPP for Ottawa Centre.

Ontario Hansard May 29, 2019

Question Period

Accessibility for persons with disabilities

Mr. Joel Harden: My question is for the Premier. This week is National AccessAbility Week. While we’ve made strides and progress in this province, it’s thanks to disability rights activists around our towns and cities. Unfortunately, the previous government paid lip service to the goal of accessibility, and this government is on track to do the same.

During the election campaign, the Premier promised stronger enforcement of accessibility laws, a clear strategy to meet accessibility standards, examining our building code requirements for accessibility provisions and requiring design professionals to have accessibility training. But we didn’t hear any announcement in the budget on this, and I’m wondering why there’s no prioritization of accessibility during National AccessAbility Week for this government.

Hon. Victor Fedeli: To the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: I thank the member of the opposition for raising the important question. I want to assure this House that this government takes our responsibilities for Ontarians living with disabilities very seriously.

Last week, we announced further details of our plan to partner with the Rick Hansen Foundation on their building certification program. This $1.3 million that we’re investing will allow us to perform accessibility audits on over 200 buildings over the next two years.

We know there’s more to do, but it’s also time for real action and we are taking it right now.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.

Mr. Joel Harden: To put that in perspective, to what the minister said, $1.3 million is less than what the Premier of this government is spending on his own personal lawyer in his office, Mr. Gavin Tighe.

People with disabilities deserve more from this government. We know that the last government talked a great talk but delivered very little. We know that Queen’s Park, the very building in which you and I are working, is not fully accessible. That is true across this province: Health care, education, transportation and our spaces of recreation remain inaccessible, Speaker, and we are obliged by law to make this province fully accessible by 2025.

Tomorrow, we are going to be introducing a private member’s motion that will require us, as a Legislature, to set clear targets on accessibility. I have a very clear question for the Premier or for the minister: Will you be supporting this motion tomorrow?

Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: I will repeat what the opposition member said. The previous government for the last 15 years did very little, like the Honourable David Onley said. The last 15 years, the NDP supported the last government, so you are on the same team.

The soul-crushing barriers Mr. Onley outlined were also highlighted in the first two AODA reviews by Charles Beer and Mayo Moran. This report is an indictment of the previous government, which your party supported for 15 years.

Our government is carefully reviewing Mr. Onley’s report, which we made public faster than either previous report. I will respond to your motion tomorrow.

May 15, 2018 Letter from PC Leader Doug Ford to the AODA Alliance

May 15, 2018

David Lepofsky, Chair

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA Alliance)

Dear David,

The Ontario PC Party is pleased to respond to the AODA Alliance’s survey for the 2018 Ontario election. Our team is focused on providing a clear alternative to voters. After 15 years of high taxes and government mismanagement under the Wynne Liberals, the people of Ontario are ready for change.

Your issues are close to the hearts of our Ontario PC Caucus and Candidates, which is why they will play an outstanding role in shaping policy for the Ontario PC Party to assist Ontarians in need.

Too many Ontarians with disabilities still face barriers when they try to get a job, ride public transit, get an education, use our healthcare system, buy goods or services, or eat in restaurants.

Whether addressing standards for public housing, health care, employment or education, our goal when passing the AODA in 2005 was to help remove the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating more fully in their communities.

For the Ontario PCs, this remains our goal. Making Ontario fully accessible by 2025 is an important goal under the AODA and it’s one that would be taken seriously by an Ontario PC government.

Christine Elliott, our former Health Critic and Deputy Leader, has been a tireless advocate for Ontarians with disabilities. Ms. Elliott called to establish the Select Committee on Developmental Services, with a mandate to develop a comprehensive developmental services strategy for children, youth and adults in Ontario with an intellectual disability or who are dually diagnosed with an intellectual disability and a mental illness.

When it comes to people with disabilities, we have a moral and an economic responsibility to focus on their abilities and not just on what holds them back. Our family members, friends and neighbours who have a disability of some kind are a wellspring of talent and determination.

There’s no good reason why a person with a disability should not be able to cast a vote in an election. It’s also completely unacceptable that someone should be passed over for a job because of the myth that people with disabilities can’t do the work. We have a moral and social responsibility to change this.

This is why we’re disappointed the current government has not kept its promise with respect to accessibility standards. An Ontario PC government is committed to working with the AODA Alliance to address implementation and enforcement issues when it comes to these standards.

Ontario needs a clear strategy to address AODA standards and the Ontario Building Code’s accessibility provisions. We need Ontario’s design professionals, such as architects, to receive substantially improved professional training on disability and accessibility.

The Ontario PC Party believes our education system must minimize barriers for students with disabilities, providing the skills, opportunities and connections with the business community that are necessary to enter the workforce.

Building a strong, open dialogue with your organization is most certainly a priority for our party. We encourage you to continue this dialogue and share your ideas and solutions for Ontarians with disabilities.

When I am elected Premier on June 7th, I promise I will focus on investing in the priorities that matter most to the people of Ontario. Jobs and economic development will be a key focus, and Ontario will be open for business again.

In the coming weeks, our team will be releasing our platform of policies and priorities and a clear vision for a prosperous Ontario.

If you have any further questions please feel free to reach out at any time.

Sincerely,

Doug Ford

Leader, Ontario PC Party



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