Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
The City of Toronto’s Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee Passes A Strong Unanimous Motion Urging Toronto’s Mayor John Tory and City Council to Leave in Place the Ban on Electric Scooters – But City Staff Prefer an Option of Allowing E-Scooters Under Conditions that Leave in Place Serious Dangers for People with Disabilities and Others
February 5, 2020
We’ve had some helpful progress in our campaign to prevent electric scooters (e-scooters) from being unleashed in Ontario. Toronto’s municipal accessibility advisory committee unanimously passed a strong motion on February 3, 2020 that calls on the City of Toronto not to allow electric scooters in public spaces. We encourage other municipal accessibility advisory committees around Ontario to do the same.
This helpful step forward is only an interim bit of progress. Toronto City staff prefer allowing e-scooters, and on terms that raise serious concerns for people with disabilities. They must now listen to the strong message from the Toronto Accessibility Committee.
Since last August, the AODA Alliance has been in the lead in showing that e-scooters pose a serious danger to the physical safety of people with disabilities and others, and will create new and troubling accessibility barriers in our public spaces. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
1. Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee Unanimously Tells the City Not to Lift the Ban on E-Scooters
On Monday, February 3, 2020, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee unanimously passed a strong motion. It calls on the City of Toronto not to allow e-scooters in Toronto. We set out that motion below.
The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee is not just any committee. It is an important mandatory official committee of the Government of the City of Toronto. It plays a critical role under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Its membership is selected by the City of Toronto. It is chaired by a member of Toronto City Council, Kristin Wong-Tam.
Under the AODA, Toronto is required to have this municipal accessibility advisory committee to give the city council and government advice on what the city must do to achieve accessibility for people with disabilities .
On February 3, 2020, AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky was one of the presenters to the Toronto Accessibility Committee, leading to the passage of this important motion. The AODA Alliance presented the powerful open letter from eleven major disability organizations that calls on the mayors and councillors of all Ontario municipalities to leave in place the ban on e-scooters.
Last fall, the Ford Government passed a harmful regulation that lets a municipality pass a bylaw to lift the provincial ban on e-scooters. We have been very critical of that provincial regulation. The Ford Government rejected all the serious disability concerns with e-scooters. It listened instead to corporate lobbyists for e-scooter rental companies. We fear that those same corporate lobbyists are trying to get the City of Toronto to do the same.
We congratulate the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee for sending its strong unanimous message to Toronto Mayor John Tory, to all Toronto city councillors and to the Toronto public service: Don’t allow e-scooters in Toronto, pure and simple! We are delighted that the Toronto Star published a great article on this issue, set out below. As well, Toronto’s CFRB Radio 1010 interviewed AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky on February 5, 2020 on this issue.
Were Mayor John Tory or any Toronto city councillors or the Toronto Public Service thinking of proposing a bylaw to lift the ban on e-scooters, they would be sidelining and rejecting the strong advice of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee and of all the major disability organizations that signed our open letter. They’d have a great deal of explaining to do to justify their unleashing this danger to the safety of people with disabilities and others in Toronto, and their deciding to create new barriers to disability accessibility in Toronto. Toronto already has too many accessibility barriers. We cannot afford to have the City Council create any new ones.
If Toronto City Council does nothing, the ban on e-scooters will remain in place. That ban can only be lifted if the Toronto City Council takes specific action to pass a new bylaw to lift that provincial ban. We believe that Toronto’s mayor, city council and public service have many other important things to do, without diverting their time, efforts and public money into creating new safety and accessibility problems in Toronto.
2. Troubling News – The Preferred Option for City of Toronto Public Servants Is to Allow E-scooters in Docks to Be Set Up in Toronto, Parked in Public Parking spots Diverted for Their Use
Staff at the City of Toronto are now preparing a report on what to recommend to City Council regarding e-scooters. Until now, nothing had been made public about what City staff are going to recommend. City staff are not elected. They are public officials who work for the City of Toronto.
At the February 3, 2020 meeting of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, city staff made a report on what they are thinking of recommending to the mayor and city council. According to the February 4, 2020 Toronto Star article, set out below, there is a preferred option for Toronto’s City staff. Having now learned of this, it is a serious problem for people with disabilities .
Instead of keeping the current ban on e-scooters , City staff prefer an option where e-scooters are unleashed on Torontonians. They would be managed by the Toronto Parking Authority. The Toronto Star article stated:
“Senior project manager Janet Lo gave a preview Monday to members of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. Those members later called the devices an unacceptable threat to the safety of disabled Torontonians.
Lo said work on the report continues. But staff’s “preferred” model would see riders pick up and leave e-scooters only in designated spots — potentially Bike Share Toronto stations, or on-street vehicle parking spots converted to scooter use by Toronto Parking Authority (TPA).
“What we are suggesting is the designated-parking model … The high density of bike share stations — they are planning for 625 — makes it easy for people to be able to walk to them and access these shared micromobility options,” Lo said. “This addresses the sidewalk clutter and obstructions issue.””
This may be a well-intentioned effort by City staff to try to avoid e-scooters being left in the middle of the sidewalk. We appreciate any good intentions in that regard.
However that preferred option is seriously flawed and should not be preferred by anyone. It does not eliminate or even reduce the danger to our physical safety posed by unlicensed, uninsured, untrained e-scooter drivers rocketing towards us at 24 KPH on roads or sidewalks on a silent e-scooter. Moreover, this option does not ensure that e-scooters will never be left in the middle of the sidewalks, posing an unpredictable and unforeseeable accessibility and safety danger.
Making things worse, this option would lead to a reduction in the number of available public parking spots in Toronto. Too often, street parking is already hard to find. For people with disabilities this is a further accessibility problem.
As but one example, the Ontario Government is building a massive new courthouse in the middle of downtown Toronto. We have been active in raising a series of accessibility problems with that courthouse design. Among other things, it has no public parking provision for people with disabilities. They have to find street parking. The Ontario Government told us that they are asking the City of Toronto to make more accessible parking available. If e-scooter racks eat up more downtown parking spots, that will make things worse, not better, for solving that disability parking problem.
If the City diverts scarce public parking spots for e-scooter racks, and pays for the racks themselves, that means that the Toronto taxpayer will be subsidizing the parking costs for the e-scooter rental companies that no doubt are lobbying hard to get the City of Toronto to let them operate in Toronto.
Below we set out the text of the City of Toronto PowerPoint presentation to the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. It does not appear to include the City staff’s troubling preferred option that the Toronto Star described in the article set out below. On Youtube, you can watch the proceedings of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee on February 3, 2020.
We ask for an urgent meeting with the top officials at the City of Toronto. We want direct input before they decide on their harmful preferred option. We expect that the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies have been seeking meetings with City officials at the highest level.
Send us your feedback. Write us at [email protected]
Text of the Toronto Accessibility Committee’s February 3, 2020 Motion on Electric Scooters
Originally posted at https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/di/bgrd/backgroundfile-145137.pdf
The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee recommends to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee that:
- City Council prohibit e-scooters for use in public spaces including sidewalks and roads, and direct that any City permission granted to e-scooter companies be guided by public safety, in robust consultation with people living with disabilities, and related organizations serving this population.
Toronto Star February 4, 2020
-scooters set to be corralled in Toronto
Thickets of dockless e-scooters became eyesores and safety hazards in some U.S. cities.
Dockless electric scooters waiting on sidewalks for commuters to hop on and then abandon wherever they please don’t appear to be part of Toronto’s transportation future.
Next month, city experts will reveal hotly awaited recommendations for e-scooter use during a five-year provincially sanctioned pilot project that will let municipalities create most of the rules.
Senior project manager Janet Lo gave a preview Monday to members of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. Those members later called the devices an unacceptable threat to the safety of disabled Torontonians.
Lo said work on the report continues. but staff’s “preferred” model would see riders pick up and leave e-scooters only in designated spots — potentially Bike Share Toronto stations, or on-street vehicle parking spots converted to scooter use by Toronto Parking Authority (TPA).
“What we are suggesting is the designated-parking model … The high density of bike share stations — they are planning for 625 — makes it easy for people to be able to walk to them and access these shared micromobility options,” Lo said. “This addresses the sidewalk clutter and obstructions issue.”
Thickets of dockless e-scooters became eyesores and safety hazards in U.S. cities including San Francisco, which last March ordered two app-based services to collect devices that had been deployed without city permission. Lo noted that city now forces approved firms to use “lock-to” scooters that are parked locked to a stationary object, further reducing clutter.
Staff will recommend to councillors that TPA, which operates Bike Share Toronto, become the city’s umbrella agency for all “micromobility” options, Lo said, noting its plan to add 300 e-bikes as a pilot project. Lo did not respond to a request Tuesday to elaborate on TPA’s possible e-scooter role, nor did she reveal where staff will recommend Torontonians be allowed to ride the devices.
The Canadian heads of the two biggest e-scooter companies, Bird and Lime, said Tuesday they could operate with specified parking spots downtown, but they would need a lot of them.
“We see a two-zoned system as ideal for Toronto,” said Lime’s Chris Schafer, with riders in suburbs able to leave scooters “at the sidewalk’s edge wherever is convenient,” and in designated parking spots downtown, either on the street or on sidewalks if width permits.
“This allows for an organized program that also balances the convenience riders appreciate in cities around the world,” he said in an email.
Bird Canada’s Stewart Lyons is also advocating e-scooter parking spaces downtown and a more free-floating model outside the core. “We have no problem with a more defined parking system. We have that in Montreal, but we need a lot of (spots), maybe every 80 to 100 metres,” Lyons said, adding that restricting the spots to Bike Share stations would be insufficient.
At the meeting, Lo heard from disability advocates who don’t want the devices in Toronto at all.
“Electric scooters pose an immediate and serious danger to people with disabilities, as well as others. Thy should not be allowed,” said David Lepofsky, chair of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. Lepofsky, a lawyer who is blind, said vehicles that can zip silently at 24 km/h are dangerous to people like him when they are moving, and a tripping and obstruction hazard when they are parked.
Wong-Tam drafted a motion, passed unanimously by committee members, urging council to reject calls to legalize e-scooter services. If they are legalized, the committee said, rules must be guided by public safety in “robust consultations with people living with disabilities.”
David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider
February 3, 2020 Text of Slides that Toronto City Staff Presented to the Toronto Accessibility Committee
Originally posted at https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2020/di/bgrd/backgroundfile-145137.pdf
February 3, 2020
Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee
Senior Project Manager
Logo City of Toronto
- Inform TAAC members of recent provincial and city regulations on e-scooters
- Provide an overview of the process to develop a report on e-scooter oversight and management
- Share what has been heard so far in the process
- Consult the TAAC for feedback
Electric Kick-Scooter (e-scooter)
- An e-scooter is a two-wheeled device the rider stands on, holding a handlebar.
- Powered by battery.
- Can travel at a speed of 24 km/hour using a throttle.
- Shared e-scooter fleets can be rented using mobile apps.
- Photo shows electric kick-scooter which has a board like a skateboard with two wheels, one at each end about eight inches to ten inches in diameter with a handlestick that the rider holds onto while standing on it
- Photo shows row of about 16 e-scooters lined on boardwalk in Kelowna
- Photo shows on-street e-scooter parking demarcated with white paint, symbols and bollards
Ontario Regulation 389/19 – Pilot Project Electric Kick-Scooters
- In effect from January 1, 2020 to November 24, 2024
- Sets a 5 year pilot period for municipalities to opt in to test e-scooters
- E-scooter use within a municipality is not allowed unless that municipality permits e-scooters by municipal by-law for public roads, bike lanes, cycle tracks, trails, paths, parks, sidewalks, walkways etc…
- Not to be operated on controlled access highways or highways where destrians and bicyclists are prohibited
- Max. speed of 24 kilometres per hour
- Max. 500 watts
- Shall have one or more electric batteries as sole source of power
- No seat, no pedals, no basket, no cargo, no enclosure
- Max. wheel diameter of 17 inches
- Max. weight of 45 kilograms
- Minimum 16 years old to operate; helmet use required if under 18 years old
- No vehicle permit, no driver’s license
- Treated like a bicycle and cyclist
- Must use bicycle lanes where they exist, except for in a tunnel or underpass, may operate on a sidewalk (unless sidewalk riding is prohibited by by-law)
- Where no bicycle lanes, must use shoulder or right side of roadway
- Must stop at red lights, stop signs, and crosswalks for pedestrians
- Not permitted to ride or operate within a pedestrian crosswalk or pedestrian crossover
- Must keep safe distance from, and give way to pedestrians or cyclists by slowing down or stopping if insufficient space to pass
- Must not operate at speed markedly greater than pedestrians when near them
- Must have bell or horn in working order and sounded to notify of approach
- Half hour before sunset and before sunrise, must carry and use white/amber light on front and red light on rear
- Must not harm, injure or damage, directly or indirectly, any person or property
- Not carry anyone, not to tow anyone or vehicle or device
- Must stand while operating the e-scooter
- Must not leave the e-scooter in a location intended for passage of pedestrians
- Must report accidents involving pedestrian, animal or vehicle
- Must stop for police when asked and provide identification, i.e., name, address and date of birth
- Police are required to submit reports of accidents to the Registrar under the Highway Traffic Act
- Municipalities required to remit data to the Ministry of Transportation
Some remaining issues to address with the Province include:
- The motor vehicle accident template for police services in Ontario must be updated to enable police to submit reports
- Where there is no motor vehicle involved, there needs to be a mechanism to submit reports of accidents
- Ontario hospitals such as trauma centres and emergency rooms, doctor’s clinics, public health, paramedics, coroners, etc. need a way of tracking injuries and fatalities related to e-scooters (standing and seated), and comparing these with other modes
Continued… remaining issues to address with the Province include:
- Lacking details on data to be remitted to Province that would go in permits or contract conditions with e-scooter sharing/rental companies
- Questions about insurance and liability where neither the e-scooter rider, nor the pedestrian or cyclist involved in an incident have insurance
- Questions about liability where the province sets minimum maintenance standards for roads and sidewalks for municipalities, which did not contemplate new devices such as e-scooters
Toronto E-scooter Regulations
- E-scooters are not permitted by by-law for use/operation on public roads, bike lanes, cycle tracks, trails, paths, parks, sidewalks, walkways, or public squares.
- Last October, City Council prohibited parking, storing or leaving e-scooters on any street, sidewalk and pedestrian way.
- A report is requested on e-scooter oversight and management including potentially adding e-scooters to the city’s bike share program as a way of managing them in the public right-of-way.
- This report is slated for March 11, 2020 Infrastructure and Environment Committee.
Toronto Policy Goals
- Vision Zero – safety & focus on vulnerable road users – pedestrians, seniors, children
- Connected, reliable and efficient networks – moving more people and goods, using greener and more space-efficient modes
- Equitable, affordable and inclusive
- Sustainable, resilient and adaptable
- Growing, thriving and vibrant city that supports social and economic activity
- Effective use of financial resources, innovation and collaboration to build, maintain and operate infrastructure
Key Stakeholder Feedback So Far
- Accessibility / persons with disabilities groups
- Visually-impaired/blind cannot hear or see e-scooter riders, trip hazards with e-scooters, collisions and near collisions/friction on sidewalks and serious injuries from losing balance and falling, no insurance, challenges with enforcement / claims
- Pedestrian-related – walkability, friction on sidewalks, trip hazards, collisions
- Place-making / business improvement areas
- Sidewalk litter, vandalism, drunk e-scooter riding (i.e. requests to make arrangements to have paid parking on private property; removal of e-scooter fleets in evening and overnight)
- Cycling-related – conflicts in narrow cycle facilities, e-scooters fallen across paths, opportunity to expand cycling networks
- Transit partners – mobility as a service, integration with transit, safety with transit drivers
- Environmental stakeholders – support for electric vehicles (no emissions), e-waste, life-cycle, emissions from collection/redistribution
Policy Options Based on Review of Other Cities
Examples from Elsewhere
- Calgary mid-pilot report for period approx. July to mid-October 2019
- Allowed e-scooter riding on sidewalks, pathways and bike lanes, and prohibited e-scooter use on roadways. Max speed of 20 km/hour.
- 1,500 fleet, two operators (Bird and Lime)
- Each device averaging about 5 rides/day (errands, work trips, dining/shopping, recreation)
- 55% trips replaced walking, 32% replaced car trips. Average length 1.2 km/trip.
- 33 ER visits requiring ambulance rides, one of these was a pedestrian; 677 ER visits total
- Complaints to 311 system included sidewalk riding (40%), undesirable behaviour (breaking rules/inconsiderate, 27%), and parking issues (21%)
- Proposed designated parking areas, slow zones, and fines ($400 for colliding with pedestrians/other sidewalk and street users, and reckless behaviour)
Each city’s context is different
- Peer cities don’t have e-scooters yet such as London (UK), New York City, Sydney, Australia
- Chicago in the process of evaluating data from its pilot
- San Francisco (requiring “lock to” to address theft, vandalism and clutter)
- More jurisdictions using selective permits or requests for proposals and designated parking areas
- Waterloo (pilot was on private property)
- Montreal (helmet requirement, limited to four of its 19 boroughs)
- Paris & Singapore have since banned sidewalk riding after pedestrian deaths
- San Diego (since banned from boardwalk from Mission Beach to La Jolla)
- Tel Aviv (requires helmets and license plates for safety and enforcement)
Option – Temporary Ban
- Take a phased approach and ease into the 5 year pilot by continuing a temporary ban until:
- Industry standards are in place for safety, durability and sustainability
- More comprehensive data is made available from other pilots that have just been completed in Fall 2019
- Product innovation – next phase of safer designs
- Not first out the gate… observe other Ontario cities or towns
Option – Toronto Parking Authority Synergies
- Make Toronto Parking Authority the umbrella for bikesharing, e-bikes, e- scooters, e-mopeds etc… to coordinate any shared micromobility
- High density of docking stations (proposed fleet increase to 7,000 with 625 stations)
- Potential opportunities to assess on-street parking conversion
- Coordinated implementation of various shared Micromobility to meet city’s policy objectives
- Ways to address sidewalk clutter, social equity and transit integration
Option – Open Permit Application
- Permit system that allows any operator to apply for a permit to operate e-scooter sharing
- Examples from other jurisdictions such as Paris and San Diego, and other cities
- Conditions that must be met such as insurance, data sharing, and compliance (e.g., user education, parking, geofencing, social equity, service standards,…)
- Some key issues include fleet size and number of operators
Continued Research on Best Practices
- Safety improvements and product innovation?
- Some jurisdictions like Portland and San Francisco are piloting e-scooters with seats for persons with disabilities (not legal under Ontario’s regulation)
- Service and maintenance standards?
- Enforcement & compliance?
- Illegal sidewalk riding
- Parking in non-designated spots
- Prompt removal of sidewalk obstructions
- Social equity? Sustainability?
- Infrastructure for micro-mobility
- Longevity of micro-mobility options
Photo shows what is called an accessible kick-scooter modified by adding a bicycle seat on it from Lime e-scooter company
E-scooter report process and next steps
- Report slated for March 11th Infrastructure & Environment Committee
- Reports are posted 5 business days before Committee date
- Click on the item to submit communications on the item
- You can submit a written letter and request to make a deputation in-person (limit to 5 minutes)
- www.Toronto.ca – follow the tabs on City Council and Committee Meetings
[email protected] 416-397-4853
Micro-Mobility & Next Steps
- Report slated for Q4 2020 for Infrastructure & Environment Committee
Contact: Jennifer Hyland, Senior Project Manager [email protected] 416-392-0818ankyou