Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update
United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
More Overwhelming Proof that Electric Scooters Endanger Public Safety
July 27, 2020
On the eve of Toronto City Council considering the question of whether to allow electric scooters in Canada’s largest city, here is yet more overwhelming proof that electric scooters pose a danger to the safety of the public. We set out a sampling of four news articles below. A CBC News July 21, 2020 report showed a troubling increase in serious personal injuries in Calgary, resulting in hospital emergency room visits, due to e-scooters. A January 11, 2020 report in MarketWatch documented is entitled “Electric scooter injuries jumped 222% over the past four years.” The Berlin Spectator June 18, 2020 reported on serious injuries in Berlin, Germany, leading police to sound the alarm. A July 26, 2020 report in the Singapore Press is entitled “E-scooter rider who knocked down woman refuses to pay over $445,000 in damages as he can’t afford it, says lawyer.”
If it is so well established that e-scooters endanger public safety, not to mention accessibility for people with disabilities, why is Toronto City Council even talking about the possibility of conducting a “pilot” with e-scooters? What is the purpose of a pilot? To see if Torontonians will get injured? We know they will. There is no need to subject them to e-scooters to find that out. Should Toronto conduct a “pilot” to find out if it will cost the public money to allow e-scooters? We know it will. Do we need a “pilot” to find out that Toronto’s law enforcement officers don’t have the time and resources to enforce proper conduct by those silently racing around on e-scooters? The City knows that they lack sufficient law enforcement capacity right now, without piling e-scooters onto their responsibilities.
The lead proponents of a “pilot” are the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies. They stand to make piles of money from a new market, without bearing the costs. They no doubt want a “pilot” to try to get a foothold on a new market for their product, hoping that if e-scooters are allowed, it would be harder to get them banned.
An e-scooter is a motor vehicle, pure and simple. Yet the corporate lobbyists for the e-scooter rental companies want them treated as if they were not. That would leave public safety less protected.
We will all be watching Toronto City Council tomorrow, July 28, 2020, starting at 9:30 a.m., where its meeting is streamed live at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIKd97OqGeM
It is quite an irony that Toronto City Council has decided to now discuss the possibility of creating this new danger to the public including people with disabilities. On Sunday, July 26, 2020, the US celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Americans with disabilities focused on the progress they’ve made and the barriers yet to be removed for people with disabilities. The US is years ahead of Toronto, of Ontario and of Canada on inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities.
The fight for the Americans with Disabilities Act inspired a generation of disability advocates around the world, including right here in Ontario, to fight for new disability rights laws. Yet here we are, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, having to battle to avoid the silent menace that e-scooters present to all innocent pedestrians, including those with disabilities.
Let’s learn from the experience of Montreal, which called off its e-scooter pilot. Let’s learn from the experience of places like Calgary, Berlin, Singapore and several US cities, which have subjected so many of their residents to undue danger from e-scooters. Let’s learn from their mistakes, rather than repeating them.
Tell Toronto City Council to protect public safety rather than corporate lobbyists’ profits. City Councillors’ contact information is available at https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/council/members-of-council/
CBC News July 21, 2020
Injuries rise with popularity of e-scooters on Calgary streets
Rider says he looked back and saw his girlfriend on the ground
Elissa Carpenter · CBC News · Posted: Jul 21, 2020 10:58 AM MT | Last Updated: July 21
A Calgary emergency room doctor says rider injuries led to almost 700 emergency-room and urgent-care visits last summer in Calgary. (CBC)
A Calgary couple is telling a cautionary tale involving an ambulance ride, a broken jaw and surgery.
Paul Fox and his girlfriend rented electric scooters Sunday evening. Both had used the ride-share scooters before, but this time something went wrong.
“We were driving the scooters and then I look back and she is just laying there” Fox told CBC News.
His girlfriend was rushed to hospital and underwent surgery for a broken jaw.
Fox was shocked when the surgeon told him he had seen six of the same kind of injury in recent days.
“It’s been the same mechanics of the injury. All jaw injuries … within the last week ” Fox said.
2019 Calgarians wheel into hospitals by the dozen with injuries from new e-scooters
2019 | Calgary e-scooters used nearly 10,000 times per day in August
The department head for emergency medicine in the city isn’t surprised.
Dr. Eddy Lang studied scooter-related injuries last fall after Calgary’s first season of the ride-share program.
“We saw almost 700 emergency-room and urgent-care visits of adults and children with scooter-related injuries last year,” Lang said.
By comparison, about 2,000 people a year are injured while cycling.
“You also have to keep the denominator in mind, if you will ” Lang said. “The number of Calgarians who use bicycles on a regular basis probably far exceeds the number of scooter users.”
Injuries to head, neck and face most common
Lang says the most common injuries were head, neck and face.
“Last year, we studied this in detail and looked at about 30 cases that were transported to hospital by ambulance. The common denominator was speed.”
Lang says the scooters are a great way to see the city or commute quickly to work, but points out they are a motorized vehicle and should be treated as such. He recommends helmet use, staying away from large crowds and riding sober.
With a third company joining the program this year, there are now about 2,500 scooters on the streets.
A second injury study is coming in the fall.
MarketWatch January 11, 2020
Electric scooter injuries jumped 222% over the past four years
And your first e-scooter ride will probably land you in the hospital, research suggests
Published: Jan. 11, 2020 at 9:36 a.m. ET
By Nicole Lyn Pesce
Many e-scooter riders suffered broken arms and head traumas. XTREKX/ISTOCK
More Americans are taking electric scooters for a spin — and it’s been a bumpy ride.
In fact, the number of e-scooter-related injuries jumped 222% between 2014 and 2018, according to a new study published in JAMA Surgery, adding up to almost 40,000 broken bones, head injuries, cuts and bruises being treated in emergency rooms across the country.
And those injuries spiked over that last year, in particular, jumping 83% from 8,016 in 2017 to 14,651 in 2018.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed U.S. government data on nonfatal injuries treated in ERs, and reported a “dramatic increase” in injuries and admissions associated with e-scooter use, which has become a popular form of alternative transportation across the U.S.
And the number of hospital admissions jumped 365% to almost 3,300 cases between 2014 and 2018, although most injured riders overall weren’t hospitalized. E-scooter riders aged 18 to 34 were also the most likely to be injured.
This study was limited in that it didn’t have details about collision scenarios, alcohol use or helmet use for each injury report, but two studies published last year reported that between 95% and 98% of injured e-scooter riders weren’t wearing helmets.
“We hope to raise awareness that riders should wear helmets and ride safely,” lead author Dr. Benjamin Breyer from the University of California, San Francisco told the Associated Press.
(Related: Famous British YouTuber dies in electric scooter accident)
This is the latest report to raise concerns about the rising number of e-scooter riders hitting the roads and sidewalks, in some cases before the riders have been properly trained to use the vehicle safely. In fact, one in three people injured on e-scooters gets hurt during their very first ride, according to a government safety report released last May.
The CDC and the Austin Public Health department analyzed emergency department data from nine Austin hospitals between September and November 2018.
The city’s almost 1 million people had access to about 14,000 dockless electric scooters, and the study counted 192 e-scooter-related injuries during those three months alone. Two were non-riders (a pedestrian and a cyclist), and the remaining 190 were navigating the motorized scooter at the time. But this report probably underestimated the true number of injuries, the authors noted, because it didn’t include urgent care centers or primary care physicians’ offices.
And one in three of those injured was riding an e-scooter for the first time. In fact, most of those who landed in the hospital were novices; about 63% had ridden just nine times or less before getting hurt.
Almost half of the accidents resulted in head injuries, as only one of the riders was wearing a helmet. The other most common injuries were to the upper limbs, including the arms, shoulders, wrists and hands (70%); the lower limbs, including the legs, knees, ankles and feet (55%); as well as the chest and abdomen (18%).
Many injured e-scooter riders were speeding and/or not wearing helmets.
Most of the accidents actually didn’t involve cars; only 10% of injured riders were hit by motor vehicles. Rather, half (50%) reported their accidents resulted from road conditions such as potholes and cracks. More than a third admitted they crashed while going too fast, and 10% said they hit a curb. Just under one in five (19%) claimed that their scooter malfunctioned. And more than half (55%) were injured in the street, while one-third were hurt on the sidewalk.
The report pushed for more training and education about e-scooter operation and safety to prevent injuries, advising that, “These educational messages should emphasize both wearing a helmet and maintaining a safe speed while riding an e-scooter.” And these PSAs should target riders ages 18 to 29, in particular, as nearly half of all injuries were reported in young adults, and more than one in four (29%) victims had consumed alcohol within 12 hours of crashing. As it stands, many of the scooter companies offer instructional videos on their apps — such as Lime’s “How to Lime” clip — but riders aren’t required to watch them before taking a spin.
Nick Shapiro, Lime’s vice president and Head of Trust and Safety, told MarketWatch in an emailed statement that, “Lime’s highest priority is the safety of our riders, and we advance this through rider education, community engagement, product innovation and policy development.” He added that, “we appreciate UCSF’s attention on this important topic and remain committed to ensuring safe rides for all users.” Reps for Bird were not immediately available for comment.
Motorized scooters from companies such as Bird, Lime and the Ford-owned Spin have been appearing all over the country, generally charging users anywhere from 15 cents to $1 a minute to rent e-scooters docked throughout an urban area, which can zip around as fast as 15 miles an hour. (The average speed of most city bicycle riders is about the same, although one can hit 20 miles an hour when speeding down a hill.)
The global e-scooter market is expected to hit $41.98 billion by 2030, according to Grand View Research, Inc. And that’s spurring ride-share heavyweights like Lyft and Uber to get in on the action. Uber and Alphabet invested $335 million in Lime in 2018, and Lyft has rolled out its own motorized scooters in cities including Austin, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C.
But the rapid expansion of e-scooters is also revving up safety concerns. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 3,300 scooter-related injuries in 2016, and 25% of them occurred to the head and face. After the Bird scooter landed in Memphis, local doctors reported an increase in emergency department visits for head and face injuries, which were related to e-scooters. Again, many riders were not wearing helmets. After a 26-year-old Nashville resident died in a e-scooter accident in May 2019, the city’s mayor David Briley said he would recommend banning them. Chattanooga, Tenn. went ahead and enacted a six-month ban on dockless electric scooters and bikes.
A handful of e-scooter riders have also died in the U.S. after colliding with cars in Austin and Washington, D.C., while a Dallas man was killed after falling off his scooter while riding home from work. Last July, British YouTube star Emily Hartridge, who presented the online series “10 Reasons Why,” was killed in a collision with a truck, becoming the U.K.’s first death involving an e-scooter. She was 35.
But a Portland, Ore., study published in January 2019 also found that scooter safety risks were no worse than those found in other modes of city transportation. In fact, scooter-related injuries (including injuries from non-motorized scooters) only accounted for about 5% of the estimated 3,220 of total traffic crash injury visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers. And while scooters were involved in 176 ER visits, that was less than half of the 429 visits for bicycle-related mishaps.
The Berlin Spectator June 18, 2020
Berlin Police Log High Number of E-Scooter Accidents
By Imanuel Marcus
Berlin’s Police Department is sounding the alarm. Too many e-scooter users cause accidents. Serious injuries and even one death were reported. Besides, people do not seem to know the rules.
A year ago, on June 15th, 2019, the use of e-scooters on the streets of Berlin was approved. Since, several rental companies have popped up. They place e-scooters on the streets. Their customers locate them in apps, rent them and get going.
The positive side of the coin is obvious: Individuals, including tourists, can move around in Berlin easily. Taking e-scooter rides is fun indeed. But there is a flip side. The Berlin Police Department just released numbers that show there is a problem.
From June 15th, 2019 to March 31st, 2020, there were 354 accidents that involved e-scooters. One person died, 38 individuals were injured severely, while 182 persons sustained light injuries, according to those statistics mentioned by German-language media.
In the same time period, police in the German capital distributed as many as 3,340 tickets to e-scooter riders because of infractions they were responsible for. As it turns out, many e-scooter enthusiasts do not know there are rules. And those who know do not seem to care much.
These are some of the rules:
Riding e-scooters on sidewalks is prohibited. More than 1,000 persons were caught doing so anyway.
E-scooters need to be parked in an orderly manner where they do not obstruct pedestrians. Nine hundred people got tickets for choosing bad spots.
E-scooters are vehicles the use of which is not allowed under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Police gave out 280 tickets to drunk individuals who rode those vehicles anyway.
All general traffic rules need to be adhered to. Too many people did not. For instance, red lights were taken, cell phones were used while riding, people rode through pedestrian zones.
E-scooters may not be used by more than one person.
Making people aware of the fact that e-scooters are not toys, but vehicles propelled by electric motors is the responsibility of the companies that rent them out. Adding clear instructions to the apps is one way of doing it. The thing is that riding those e-scooters is more difficult and requires more attention that some people seem to believe.
In January, Berlin’s Charité university hospital came up with statistics regarding e-scooter accidents for July of 2019. More than half of all accident victims sustained head injuries. Many wounds on feet needed to be treated. The same applied to broken legs, arms and hands.
During the first three months of the ongoing Corona crisis, most rental e-scooters disappeared from the streets of Berlin. Now they are back. Renting them is rather expensive. An 8-kilometer trip (5 miles) can cost 12 Euro (13.50 U.S. Dollars or 10.75 Pounds Sterling).
The Berlin Police Department said its officers would continue monitoring e-scooter users. It is a foregone conclusion that more tickets will be distributed to those who do not behave.
Singapore Press July 26, 2020
E-scooter rider who knocked down woman refuses to pay over $445,000 in damages as he can’t afford it, says lawyer
Nicholas Ting Nai Jie caused Madam Ang Liu Kiow to suffer severe brain injuries after he hit her while riding his electric scooter in 2016.
Nicholas Ting Nai Jie caused Madam Ang Liu Kiow to suffer severe brain injuries after he hit her while riding his electric scooter in 2016.PHOTOS: ST FILE
Published Jul 26, 2020, 8:19 pm SGT
SINGAPORE – A man who caused a female pedestrian to suffer severe brain injuries after he hit her while riding his electric scooter in 2016 has been ordered to pay her damages of over $445,000.
Madam Ang Liu Kiow, a 57-year-old mother of three, is still unable to speak, read or write nearly four years after the accident and needs help in daily activities such as dressing, using the toilet and eating.
For more background:
Read the AODA Alliance’s July 8, 2020 brief to the City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee, already endorsed by Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and the March of Dimes of Canada
Read the open letter to all Ontario municipal councils from 11 major disability organizations, opposing e-scooters in Ontario, and
Read the AODA Alliance’s July 10, 2020 news release explaining what happened at the July 9, 2020 meeting of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee where the AODA Alliance and others presented on this issue.
Visit the AODA Alliance e-scooters web page.