Key Messaging for Prevention of E-Scooters to be Implemented in Toronto

As part of one of the grassroots initiatives SCIO is involved in, we are actively working with other disability organizations, people with lived experience and city councillors to prevent e-scooters from being present on Toronto sidewalks and public spaces.  

On June 28, 2023, the Infrastructure and Environment Committee will be holding a meeting to discuss this matter. We are urging members of our community to sign up and make a deputation virtually or in person, or to submit a letter addressing the safety concerns posed by the implementation of e-scooters on our sidewalks. You may email the Infrastructure and Environment Committee at [email protected]  

For key messaging around the issue, please see below:

Our Core Position

As you knew, our core position is that the Infrastructure and Environment Committee should not re-open Toronto City Council’s unanimous decision on May 5, 2021 not to allow electric scooters. Vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors and others should not have to fight once again to fend off the proven dangers that e-scooters create. In any event, the Infrastructure and Environment Committees consideration of this issue should await the election of Toronto’s new mayor taking office. It should defer this issue past its June 28, 2023 meeting, if you can manage that.

If the Infrastructure and Environment Committee is to direct any new report by City staff, it should instead be a report on what the City of Toronto could do to reduce the many and growing accessibility barriers that Torontonians with disabilities must endure in the city’s infrastructure. The Infrastructure and Environment Committee should focus on ways to make Toronto more livable by people with disabilities, and not force people with disabilities to again fight a rear-guard battle against e-scooter corporate lobbyists, to prevent them from making Toronto even more inaccessible for people with disabilities.

In the Alternative, Please Include In Your Motion
If, despite this, you propose to bring a motion at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee calling for a direction that a new staff report regarding e-scooters be prepared for some time next year, we would ask that your motion include the following:

No pilot should be conducted that could expose any members of the public to injury or property damage until and unless the key dangers of e-scooters have been proven to be rectified. A pilot should not be conducted to find out if there will be injuries. Toronto residents should not be subjected to such an experiment without their consent.

Any testing of new technology offered by the e-scooter companies should be demonstrated in in environments that are the same as Toronto’s streets, sidewalks and parks, not the CNE or like environments.

The motion should direct that it will again be the Transportation Services Department that will prepare the City staff e-scooters report. You were considering the option of having the Toronto Parking Authority TPA instead being assigned with responsibility for preparing this report. We would vehemently disagree with that. This is a broad transportation issue, bearing on the rights, safety and integrated needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and others. This all is well outside the expertise of the Toronto Parking Authority. Of course, the Transportation Services Department would be expected to consult with the Toronto Parking Authority.

The Transportation Services Department has expertise in the area, and has a commendable track record of effectively consulting vulnerable populations like people with disabilities.

The Transportation Services Department prepared both the 2020 and 2021 e-scooters reports, and obviously invested a great deal of time acquiring expertise in this issue. We see no good reason why this issue should be taken away from that department and given to TPA.

If a “pilot project” is to be considered, it should be a mandatory precondition that the pilot is NOT to be conducted until and unless it has been established that e-scooters no longer pose to vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others dangers to their safety and accessibility. A pilot is NOT to be conducted in order to try to find out if e-scooters create those dangers, or to find out if some new technology, promised by e-scooters lobbyists, will provide a solution. Such a pilot would itself endanger the public.

The motion should set out specific issues that the new City staff report is to address. It should not simply request another open-ended study of e-scooters, that relitigates the entire e-scooters issue all over again. City staff thoroughly provided such a study in two reports, in 2020 and 2021. Those reports were sufficiently compelling that they led to a unanimous vote at City Council adopting their recommendation on May 5, 2021 that e-scooters not be allowed.

The Toronto Transportation Services should be required to consult with the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, with vulnerable populations such as people with disabilities and seniors, with pedestrian and cyclist communities, with Toronto Public Health and with the health care sector, and with the Toronto Parking Authority.

Specific Questions to Remit to City Staff
These are the questions that should be assigned to City staff:

Is there clear and compelling evidence demonstrating in environments that are the same as Toronto’s streets, sidewalks and parks that e-scooters’ dangers to safety and accessibility for vulnerable people with disabilities, seniors, children and others have been reliably eliminated?

Is there clear and compelling evidence that technology exists, and has proven to be consistently effective and reliable in environments that are the same as Toronto’s streets, sidewalks and parks, that will prevent e-scooters from being ridden on sidewalks, without requiring private e-scooter rental companies to self-enforce such restrictions?

Is there a proven safe and effective level and tone of continuous audio beep for e-scooters that provides safe warning for pedestrians with vision loss when an e-scooter is heading in their direction at 24 kph, and that will be clearly audible in a noisy downtown street environment with enough lead time for the pedestrian to get out of danger?

Is a system now in place to effectively collect reliable health data on and monitor the frequency and severity of e-scooter-related injuries including those treated in hospitals, walk-in clinics, private physicians’ offices and physiotherapy clinics, that does not depend on injury victims or health professionals to voluntarily self-report?

Are sufficient safety standards in place for the design of electric scooters, e.g. Under the CSA, to ensure that only models that are safe to operate are to be allowed for use in public spaces?

Is there clear and compelling proof that liability insurance is available for e-scooter riders who cause death, personal injury or property damage, and for which claims by victims can effectively be filed in the case of an e-scooter rider whom the injury victim cannot identify?

Is there an effective and proven way to ensure that an e-scooter -rider has valid insurance that covers them and their conduct before embarking on an e-scooter ride?

Have any effective measures been established and proven in environments that are the same as Toronto’s streets, sidewalks and parks, for effective enforcement of restrictions on e-scooter sidewalk riding, e-scooter parking, and speed of e-scooter operations, that do not require police, bylaw officers, or reliance on e-scooter rental companies to participate in enforcement?

What kind of City monitoring and enforcement staffing would be needed, on the basis that the e-scooter companies are not to play any role in monitoring or enforcement.

Beyond those identified in the 2020 and 2021 City staff e-scooter reports, what additional direct or indirect costs would accrue to the public, whether to the City of Toronto or other public bodies, if Toronto were to embark on an e-scooter pilot?

Beyond those already identified in the 2020 and 2021 City staff reports, to what potential liability and financial risks could the City of Toronto be exposed if it embarks on an e-scooter pilot?

To what extent would the offering of rental e-scooters reduce or impact on the availability of bicycles e.g. through the Bike Share program?

What liability requirements should be imposed on the e-scooter rental companies for costs, losses and damages caused by e-scooter rental operations in Toronto?

What restrictions should be imposed on stationing e-scooters near establishments that serve alcohol to the public?


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