Toronto could soon ban shared e-scooters in the city
Just weeks after the Ontario government announced that it would finally start allowing dockless e-scooters to operate on provincial roads (albeit as part of a pilot project), City of Toronto is throwing a wrench in the plans of companies like Bird.
Councillor James Pasternak introduced a last-minute agenda item at City Hall on Monday targeting the commercial e-scooter industry.
The motion recommends that City Council ban the use of e-scooters, at least for now, on all sidewalks and pedestrian pathways, and prohibit people from "parking, storing, standing or leaving an e-scooter " on any street or sidewalk.
Adopted by Toronto's Infrastructure and Environment Committee, the motion will go before City Council on October 2.
Should it pass there, Bird Canada (and the many Silicon Valley-based "micro-mobility" firms just like it) will be unable to launch a dockless e-scooter sharing service in Toronto this fall, as planned.
The province can play along all it wants, but the city still has to allow the use of e-scooters on its streets — and there are are valid reasons for officials to try and keep the trend out of Toronto.
Cities such as Los Angeles, Paris and Singapore, where shared e-scooters can be found lying all over public spaces and sidewalks, have experienced quite a bit of backlash among local residents and public servants.
If the City of Toronto bans consumers from dropping e-scooters on public land, Bird and its competitors (such as Lime and Uber) would effectively be shut out of the market: Their entire business model revolves around the convenience of grabbing and leaving rental scooters anywhere.
Fortunately for those who support the idea (and again, there are valid reasons to support e-scooters as a mode of transportation,) the rules proposed by Pasternak are only intended as interim measures.
"While the Province's changes to the HTA will likely enable individuals to use e-scooters, it is critical from a safety and accessibility perspective that the City have the authority to regulate any mass deployment of e-scooters on a commercial basis (e.g., scooter share) through a permit system," reads the motion.
"This would include the ability to manage the number of e-scooters, locations where they can operate, maintenance and operations requirements, communications protocols between the City and e-scooter rental/sharing companies and data-sharing requirements."
Toronto’s infrastructure and environment committee passed a motion that prevents e-scooters from occupying sidewalks.— Graphenes (@Graphenes1) September 9, 2019
Mayor John Tory said he supports the motion.
TLDR: Toronto will not be filled with obnoxious scooters that users leave EVERYWHERE. pic.twitter.com/IHtRwdaWi4
Essentially, the city wants to keep the e-scooter industry at bay until they can come up with a comprehensive oversight and management program to compliment the 5-year-long provincial pilot.
Until that program is approved and rolled out, bylaw officers would have the power to confiscate any e-scooters they find on City of Toronto streets or sidewalks.
Bad news for Bird, which is already running a pilot of its own in Toronto's Distillery District and had plans to expand full service all over the city as soon as possible.
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