Opt out of e-scooters before it's too late, accessibility committee warns
A letter from the accessibility advisory committee has been sent to council Tuesday
Adding e-scooters to London's proposed pilot bike share program will do more harm than good, according to the accessibility advisory committee.
The city has been surveying Londoners for their input on the matter since May.
Jay Menard, chair of London's accessibility advisory committee, has written a letter to the Community and Protective Services Committee about concerns around e-scooters.
"Essentially, our committee realizes that there's a number of unintentional barriers that impede people with accessibility challenges from getting around the city," Menard said.
"Our concern with the implementation of a trial on e-scooters is that we would be having an intentional barrier that we've seen in other communities has caused problems, not just for people with disabilities, but for anybody who has mobility challenges."
Menard said that properly maintaining the electronic scooters will likely be too much upkeep for Londoners, ultimately leading to a misuse of municipal funds.
He worries the e-scooters will be abandoned throughout the city, obstructing pathways and harming the environment.
Toronto, Montreal opt out of e-scooter programs
Menard cited anecdotal evidence from Montreal, where shared e-scooters were banned last year due to noncompliance with the rules to safely park them.
Ontario launched a five-year e-scooter pilot program from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2024. The program aims to evaluate the use of both personal and shared e-scooters in accordance with the province's rules of the road.
In May, Toronto City Council unanimously voted to opt-out of the e-scooter pilot, due to safety concerns for seniors and those living with disabilities.
"The ideal outcome is that we don't engage in the pilot project, that we look to communities like Toronto that have examined this and have resisted the lobbyists and have listened to the accessibility communities and done an evaluation where they said this really isn't worth any of the benefit," said Menard.
Environmental benefits may make scooters worth a try
Allison Miller, London's coordinator of transportation demand management, is more optimistic for the environmental impact of a shared e-scooter program.
"The idea with the scooter is that they have an electric powered motor as opposed to your personal vehicle, which uses gasoline, for example. So right off the bat, if you're replacing a car trip with an e-scooter trip, then there are fewer greenhouse gas emissions," Miller said.
A service provider would be responsible for running the program, she said. A GPS tracking device would allow for the company to track and recoup discarded e-scooters within a given time limit.
For safety, rules would be in place to prevent riders from overtaking sidewalks. The e-scooters would be painted a highly visible colour, and emit an audible warning to pedestrians.
Miller said she is aware of the accessibility advisory committee's concerns.
"They are very much valid concerns, and other municipalities have had to grapple with this before us, but we're learning from those municipalities, too," she said. "And I do think that the scooter share providers don't want their scooters to become a nuisance and to become dangerous either, so they're doing their best as well. We'll see what council decides and we'll move forward from there."
The survey for input on e-scooters has had a range of responses so far. It does not yet have an end date as more data is being collected.
Miller said that a staff report with recommendations based on the feedback will most likely be submitted to council in early fall.