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Bird Canada expresses its disappointment regarding today’s decision by Toronto City Council to opt out of Ontario’s e-Scooter Pilot Program.
For more than two years, micromobility advocates including Bird Canada have expressed their interest in partaking in a small and safely managed e-scooter pilot in the City of Toronto with the goal of gathering data, community feedback, and insights to assist the City in developing a world-class micromobility program. Unfortunately Toronto wasn’t interested.
Unfortunately, positive data and learnings from other jurisdictions were routinely ignored, including the e-scooter safety results in both Calgary and Ottawa which specifically showed that e-scooters were as safe as bicycles, if not safer. This was also the conclusion of a 2020 OECD International Transport Forum report. These and other more balanced conclusions didn’t find their way into the City of Toronto’s recent report, despite micromobility advocates and other cities sharing information and data with the City.
The City of Toronto decision also flies in the face of recent results from a Nanos survey showing 70% of Toronto residents were supportive of an e-scooter pilot.
Cities around the world are moving away from their car-centric past. Due to their recency, e-scooters are in the same position as bicycles were several years ago and ironically almost all the concerns that were raised in the City of Toronto’s report are equally applicable to bicycles and e-bikes, which are currently allowed in the City while e-scooters are not. A sensible option like e-scooters should not be dismissed without taking the time to trial them and gather data to overcome legitimate concerns.
If the City of Toronto is serious about becoming more sustainable, green and livable, then micromobility in all its forms, including e-scooters, must be part of the solution as they have been in more than 200 cities around the world. For Toronto to reach its Vision Zero goals, it must learn from other cities with the same objectives such as Oslo and Helsinki, both of which had zero traffic deaths in 2019 and yet had thousands of e-scooters deployed as part of their shared e-scooter programs.
Bird Canada was established by an all-Canadian team in Toronto to help Canadian cities achieve their climate goals by providing a low cost, “green” transportation solution. While we are disappointed by the decision today, we look forward to continuing this dialogue with the City of Toronto in the coming months in the post-pandemic period. Our hope is that at that point a more fulsome analysis of sustainable transportation modes can occur.