Following the Ontario government’s announcement which outlined plans to permit Ontario municipalities to introduce electronic kick scooter (e-scooter) pilots in the province, the City of Ottawa passed a by-law to run an e-scooter pilot project. In its second year, the City partnered with three e-scooter companies, Lime, Bird Canada, and Neuron to provide 1,200 rental e-scooters from May 28 to November 30, 2021. E-scooters are two-wheeled, electric, single passenger vehicles which provide pedestrians with an alternate mode of transportation. While e-scooters are a convenient and environmentally friendly way to travel around the city for some, they also cause many accessibility issues for people with sight loss in Ottawa.
As we did in 2020, to ensure that the voices of citizens with sight loss are heard, in November 2021, CNIB held a townhall to gather feedback from members of the sight loss community on their experiences with e-scooters in Ottawa. This feedback has been compiled into a report to be shared with City staff and other stakeholders.
Our findings are also summarized below.
Participants expressed three major concerns surrounding e-scooters in Ottawa.
Dangerous Parking – All participants reported encountering inappropriately parked e-scooters. They were found to be tripping hazards on sidewalks or blocking access to APS buttons.
Sidewalk Riding – Participants recounted experiences of nearly being hit by e-scooter riders on the sidewalk. This also contributed to participants feeling more unsafe going out.
Reporting & Enforcement – Given how many infractions participants witnessed, they felt present levels of enforcement aren't enough to curb e-scooter misbehaviours. Further, participants believe that the onus to report improperly parked e-scooters should not be on regular citizens; if someone finds an e-scooter by tripping over it, it is already too late.
Based on the feedback we heard, CNIB recommends that the e-scooter pilot should not continue for a third year, as e-scooters remain a safety hazard for individuals with sight loss and for other pedestrians.