On December 14th, the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee held a special virtual meeting to hear feedback and concerns regarding the 2020/2021 E-Scooter Pilot Project now underway. The meeting focused mainly on safety concerns voiced by community members, such as mis-parking, sound emission and sidewalk riding complaints that the City has received from vulnerable residents. The meeting highlighted both positive and negative aspects of introducing e-scooters in the city.
Program managers from the Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department, illustrated the many positive actions taken to improve the E-Scooters. These included end of ride photos, new localized “no parking” zones, hand tags with regulations and “no sidewalk riding” stickers. Additionally, the City and E-Scooter companies have been working together to reduce sound emissions. With an average of 2,500 daily E-Scooter trips and more than 400,000 + trips from May to November 2021, it was generally concluded that the pilot was a successful mode of transportation for most residents.
Although the report indicated less than 1% of complaints, presenters at the special meeting felt that it is crucial for the City to be attentive to the objections coming from a specific population that could be negatively affected by E-Scooters. Six members of the public spoke of the negative outcomes associated with the E-Scooters stating that they pose a great safety risk to those with disabilities. Studies from Mississauga, Toronto, and London have shown that E-Scooters have proven to increase both injuries and dangers to senior citizens and to those with disabilities. Advocates emphasized that by allowing E-scooters, the city of Ottawa has created new barriers for vulnerable citizens. Additionally, they argued that another E-Scooter pilot would be a direct contradiction of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act (AODA), whose goal is to promote equal access to all public spaces across the province.
Members described encounters from senior citizens and citizens with disabilities who had been struck or almost struck by E-Scooters in areas that should have been safe for them to walk. Unfortunately,concerns with sound emissions, mis-parking and sidewalk riding cannot be enforced by E-Scooter companies.
The Accessibility Advisory Committee, the City and E-Scooter companies are now trying to work together with community groups to come up with feasible and positive solutions Another special Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting will be held before the final motion to proceed with E-scooters goes to the Transportation Committee and Council in the coming months. Committee members will see the latest version of the new technology, as well as the first quarter reports with recommendations for ways that the City can move forward in introducing E-scooters in a way that best meets the needs of all residents, while mitigating potential problems.
For more information about the E-Scooter pilot project, you can visit Ottawa.ca.