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  • Writer's pictureDave Shellnutt

Targeting Food Delivery Couriers Will Not Keep Pedestrians Safe

Dave Shellnutt


May 8, 2023

Mayor Jennifer McKelvie & City Council

City Hall

100 Queen St. W.

Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Dear Mayor McKelvie & Council,

Targeting Working Cyclists

I own a business situated between 3 restaurants that use delivery cyclists who use sidewalks when picking up their orders. My mother is 75 years old with balance issues. I empathize with community safety concerns. The safety of pedestrians is paramount.

However, I fundamentally disagree with the approach proposed by Councillors Saxe and Carroll for Council’s consideration as item DM6.3 “Micro-mobility Couriers” on Wednesday May 10, 2023.

If sidewalk cycling presents the widespread problem it is alleged to, then those companies responsible for encouraging this behaviour must be the primary target (Uber, Skip the Dishes, etc.) Sending police after people trying to earn a living, many of whom are BIPOC and/or new Canadians is an inefficient and potentially harmful attempt to address community safety concerns.

I would query how many actual injuries and incidents have occurred between working e-cyclists and pedestrians. We know that in the first 45 days of 2023, 197 pedestrians and 42 cyclists were hit by motorists. What data is driving Councillors Saxe and Carroll’s enforcement/identifier plan (one similarly dismissed in the past by the City)?

Road safety decisions must always be based on data. Decision must target our most pressing safety concerns, where people are actually being injured. I am certain there are more urgent road safety issues that need your attention and support.

If there is conflict between Vulnerable Road Users, we need to address the root causes of that conflict. Let us not make the same mistakes that were made in High Park last summer, as former Mayor Tory stoked conflict rather than address it.

Infrastructure: safely getting on and off busy roadways is a concern when picking up food by bike. We must focus our energies and resources on infrastructure changes that can address this.

Education Incentives: Focus on efforts to incentivize safe cycling amongst working e-cyclists. What demonstrated efforts have been made to require Uber, Skip the Dishes, etc., to ensure their workers practice safe cycling habits? Do they offer training courses and safe cycling materials to their riders?

As with Uber car drivers, the City of Toronto could mandate that anyone who signs up for food delivery by bike passes an approved safety course.

Time and Money Costs: Licensing or publicly identifying e-cyclists is a slippery slope. It is also likely an administrative nightmare to set up and operationalize. Will there suddenly be a new office of people dedicated to enforcing complaints against working e-cyclists?

If there is, then data again should prevail, and that office should start by ticketing dangerous motorists who statistically cause exponentially more harm and financial loss.

Toronto Police and by-law officers’ ticket a fraction of the bike lane parking and dangerous driving plaguing Toronto. Countless dangerous driving reports go unanswered. By asking them to do more, we will certainly be met with TPS budget increase requests.

On the one hand Councillors Saxe and Carroll in their DM6.3 summary state that enforcement has not worked, then on the other they ask for more of it. The rationale that an identifying sticker will solve this perceived problem is, confusing.

Inequitable: Many working e-cyclists are non-white men. It comes as no surprise to us that this group of people have been targeted by vociferous complaints. Do those filing complaints equally demand that the owners of Uber and Skip the Dishes accountable, or their local restaurant that survives off food delivery couriers be held accountable?

Targeting working cyclists unfairly penalizes an already vulnerable group of people and amounts to an attempt to police or enforce ourselves out of another problem. We know this does not work.

Community Solutions: Instead of enforcement, we must encourage community outreach with Cycle Toronto and other partners. We need efforts to engage working cyclists from other municipalities, who come to Toronto to make an honest living – either directly on the street/in community or through their employers who are responsible for them.

We helped found the Toronto Bike Brigade on March 16, 2020. To this day, the Bike Brigade delivers food and supplies by bike to folks in need across Toronto, 7 days a week, for multiple partners. Some of our riders use e-bikes. Will their volunteer efforts, recently recognized by the City as Community Champion Award Winners, be stifled because they now need identifiers or have police officers scrutinizing their every safety choice?

We would be happy to discuss this further and be engaged as legal experts in cycling/e-bike law as well as community stakeholders.

Kind Regards,

Dave Shellnutt

Lawyer & Advocate

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1 則留言


> What data is driving Councillors Saxe and Carroll’s enforcement/identifier plan

Toronto either doesn't collect or doesn't make available this information (I suspect the former). That absolutely must change. I should be able to find out how many cyclists/mopeds/ebikes/motorcycles have injured pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks.

> If sidewalk cycling presents the widespread problem it is alleged to, then those companies responsible for encouraging this behaviour must be the primary target

Sure, primary target. But at what point and to what extent does the person piloting the vehicle bear responsibility for their own actions? What these people are doing is not strictly legal and it's clearly unsafe, even if there is a corporation inducing them to break the law.

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