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City staff recommend continuing ban on e-scooters in Toronto

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City council is being asked to develop plans for the use of “low-speed” vehicles on Toronto streets while maintaining a ban on e-scooters as part of its micromobility strategy.

At a meeting of Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee on May 2, city staff recommended council opt into a provincial pilot project that would see “low-speed vehicles” allowed on city streets. The two- to four-wheeled vehicles which can carry up to four passengers at speeds of up to 40 km/h would not be allowed on highways or used as taxis, limousines or ride-share vehicles.

The committee also recommended that the city no longer take part in an electric kick-scooter pilot program as the devices pose a significant safety hazard, cause serious injuries, are a barrier to accessibility, and that enforcement is considered untenable.  

“Any potential benefits of an e-scooter pilot appear to be outweighed by negative impacts on injuries to riders and non-riders, costs and liability to the City, and mode shift (mostly replacing walking and public transit),” the committee said.

City council voted unanimously in 2021 not to participate in the province’s e-scooter pilot program.

Disability advocates are applauding the e-scooter decision.

The AODA Alliance, the CNIB, the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, and the Canadian Council of the Blind were adamant in their criticism of the two-wheel micro-mobility devices, calling them a “silent menace” that endanger public safety especially vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.

“Blind people don’t know when silent e-scooters rocket at them at over 20 KPH, driven by unlicensed, untrained, uninsured, unhelmeted, fun-seeking joyriders,” the groups said in a joint statement. “Left strewn on sidewalks, e-scooters are tripping hazards for blind people and accessibility nightmares for wheelchair users.”

Currently, e-scooters cannot be operated, left, stored or parked on any public street in Toronto. This includes bicycle lanes, cycle tracks, trails, paths, sidewalks or parks under multiple Municipal Code Chapters.

The report will be considered by councillors at their next meeting on May 22. 

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