Briefing

Ontario government extends public-comment period for e-scooter pilot from 48 hours to over two weeks following pushback over accessibility concerns

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The extension follows a call from several groups, including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA Alliance). The group is concerned that the government’s proposed five-year pilot project, which would allow e-scooters on roads in the same places as bicycles, poses dangers for people with disabilities. The group wants the government to agree to study the safety impacts of e-scooters before going forward with the pilot. Comments on the proposed regulation can be submitted until September 12. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Ontario is facing pressure from some of the world’s largest e-scooter companies—including Lime, Bird and Uber—to catch up to regulation in other provinces and allow e-scooters on the roads. B.C., Alberta and Quebec have all granted exemptions so e-scooters can go on roads in Kelowna; Calgary and Edmonton; and Montreal, respectively. In Ontario, the City of Waterloo cited laws limiting e-scooter use on public roads for the termination of its pilot with Lime. The pushback over accessibility concerns is a growing challenge to the e-scooter companies’ desire for quick regulatory changes, as the AODA Alliance is one of several groups with major concerns. Balance for Blind Adults and the CNIB (formerly known as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind) have also sounded alarms about the potential dangers of e-scooters to disabled Canadians. The advocacy groups are concerned that because e-scooters are dockless, they can be placed anywhere—including a crowded sidewalk—when a user is done with them. They argue this can significantly hamper freedom of movement for wheelchair users and visually impaired individuals.