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Wheelchairs in the bike lane?

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Wheelchairs in the bike lane?

Old 05-12-09, 06:23 PM
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UnsafeAlpine
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Wheelchairs in the bike lane?

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

Originally Posted by Coloradoan
Activists seek to allow wheelchairs in bike lanes
BY KEVIN DUGGAN • KEVINDUGGAN @COLORADOAN.COM • MAY 12, 2009


Mike Devereaux says city law is getting in the way of him feeling safe and law abiding at the same time.

Devereaux, who uses a powered wheelchair to travel around Fort Collins, is among local activists seeking a change in a city ordinance that would permit wheelchairs in bike lanes on city streets.

The current ordinance requires wheelchair users, who are defined as pedestrians, to use sidewalks when they are available. When there is no sidewalk, a pedestrian may use the street but is instructed to stay as far to the right shoulder as possible.

But many city sidewalks are in poor condition with deep cracks and uneven sections, he said, making them difficult for a wheelchair to negotiate. A chair can easily tip over or be blocked by an obstacle, such as a fallen branch.

Devereaux said he wants the right to use bike lanes based on his appraisal of a sidewalk and whether it is usable.

The decision shouldn't be left to the discretion of a police officer who is authorized to ticket violators of the law, he said.

"I don't like being in a position where I don't know if I'm breaking the law or not," he told the City Council last week.

Devereaux is a member of Barrier Busters, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. Group members have been pressing the council to change the city ordinance for more than a year.

City staff members have recommended against changing the law, citing safety concerns. The city ordinance also matches state statute on pedestrian uses of roadways.

The issue is complex, said Joe Olson, the city’s traffic engineer. Having a city ordinance that does not comply with state law would be problematic.

But the biggest concern is for people in wheelchairs, he said. The issue isn’t sharing a lane with bikes but sharing the street with cars and trucks, he said.

“We really don’t want to encourage wheelchairs in the streets,” he said.

Instead of changing the law, staff has recommended working with the police department to raise awareness about the issue, Olson said.

Sgt. Mike Trombley of the Fort Collins police traffic division said he knows of few cases involving wheelchairs in the streets resulting in tickets.

Officers strive to educate wheelchair users about the law rather than write tickets, he said.

The condition of an available sidewalk is something to consider, he said.

“Common sense has to rule the day there,” he said.

On Tuesday, the city’s bicycle coordinator, Dave “DK” Kemp told the council having wheelchairs in bike lanes is not an issue for the cycling community.

A rider encountering a wheelchair would behave the same way as if coming upon a slower bike rider, he said. The rider would check for traffic coming from behind and pass the chair if the way were clear.

Olson said he wants to arrange a meeting with advocates, the police and other city officials to find common ground. The council has not yet given direction on what it wants done.

“I just think we need to talk about this some more,” he said.

In a telephone interview, Devereaux said he has not had conflicts with motorists or cyclists when using the street. He has not had problems with the police.

The issue is a matter of principle, he said.

“I would like to see an ordinance that gives a disabled person the right to choose between the sidewalk and the bike lane,” he said.
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Old 05-12-09, 07:10 PM
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I have no problem with it as long as the user has lights, proper vehicle licensing, safety flags and a helmet.
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Old 05-12-09, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr Danw View Post
I have no problem with it as long as the user has lights, proper vehicle licensing, safety flags and a helmet.
Why should they need that stuff when we don't?
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Old 05-12-09, 07:13 PM
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Maybe if this catches on, lots of people in wheelchairs will be hit and killed, resulting in changes to the "I didn't see him" murder exclusion currently in place throughout the US. Then again, lots of people on two-wheeled vehicles are already being hit and killed, and the laws haven't changed yet.
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Old 05-12-09, 07:19 PM
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Where do we draw the line?
Is a hand cycle a wheelchair or a bike?
Is a recumbent a wheelchair or a bike?
Is an adult tricycle with chair style seat a wheelchair or a bike?
Is a wheelchair racer http://howtoadapt.com/RacingWheelchair/1.jpg , a wheelchair or a bike?

I would side with, letting the operator decide.
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Old 05-12-09, 08:23 PM
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I wouldn't mind it. People in wheel chairs have a pretty hard time getting around, so I don't mind giving them a break.
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Old 05-12-09, 08:30 PM
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If the sidewalk is not practically usable, they should feel free to the bike lane, and if there is no bike lane, the rightmost portion of the travel lane that is practical for travel.

If they are going contra-flow, they should limit their speed to pedestrian pace. Cyclists and motorists are required to allow adequate space when passing.

It's not rocket science.
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Old 05-12-09, 08:33 PM
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I'm strongly in favor of this. It sends a clear message that public spaces are first and foremost for people, regardless of what class of vehicle they use.

If we're unwilling to accept what we may consider to be a slower class of vehicle on the street then how can we expect to be accepted?
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Old 05-12-09, 08:36 PM
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Let them use the lanes, but make them follow the rules, also. There is a woman using a power chair in our neighborhood who takes the lane, even after dark, with no lights. It's only a matter of time until she gets hit.
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Old 05-12-09, 08:44 PM
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What? What's there to "permit?"
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Old 05-12-09, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by kuan View Post
What? What's there to "permit?"
It's currently against the law, from what I understand.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:14 PM
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I would define whether a wheelchair is a pedestrian vs a vehicle based on speed.
If it travels at pedestrian speeds it belongs in the sidewalk -kinda like how kids learning to ride, and newbs on bikes belong on the sidewalk-
I don't mind the wheelchair being in my lane if it can keep up, can it? If not stay on the sidewalk. And definetly must not be going counterflow.
And that law had better have a contingency about required reflectors and lights when out at night.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
I would define whether a wheelchair is a pedestrian vs a vehicle based on speed.
If it travels at pedestrian speeds it belongs in the sidewalk -kinda like how kids learning to ride, and newbs on bikes belong on the sidewalk-
I don't mind the wheelchair
being in my lane if it can keep up, can it? If not stay on the sidewalk. And definetly must not be going counterflow.
And that law had better have a contingency about required reflectors and lights when out at night.
Oh good lord.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:20 PM
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If an ordinance gives wheelchair users the right to use bike lanes at their whim also includes a provision expressly saying that cyclists can use the road instead of the bike lane at the cyclist's whim, that's fine. Also, once you let anyone but cyclists use a bike lane, it should be called an "MUP."
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Old 05-12-09, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
Oh good lord.
Oh dont worry, this isn't hypocracy. See in one situation its cars versus bikes. but here it's bikes versus wheelchairs.
The key point is bikes are the superiour vehicle in both cases, so this isn't a doublestandard.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
Oh dont worry, this isn't hypocracy. See in one situation its cars versus bikes. but here it's bikes versus wheelchairs.
The key point is bikes are the superiour vehicle in both cases, so this isn't a doublestandard.
No further questions your honour.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
Oh dont worry, this isn't hypocracy. See in one situation its cars versus bikes. but here it's bikes versus wheelchairs.
The key point is bikes are the superiour vehicle in both cases, so this isn't a doublestandard.
Keep up with who? You? A guy pulling a trailer? A professional racer?
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Old 05-12-09, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
Keep up with who? You? A guy pulling a trailer? A professional racer?
A guy pulling a trailer.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
A guy pulling a trailer.
Why?
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Old 05-12-09, 09:33 PM
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Because a bike with a trailer is the ultimate in transportation.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
Because a bike with a trailer is the ultimate in transportation.
pretty tough for someone who's wheelchair bound to ride a bike and trailer.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
pretty tough for someone who's wheelchair bound to ride a bike and trailer.
Sux for them.
They don't do too well in professional baseball either. Whats your point?
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Old 05-12-09, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
Sux for them.
They don't do too well in professional baseball either. Whats your point?
playing pro baseball isn't necessary for daily living, being able to get around is.
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Old 05-12-09, 09:44 PM
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Thats why there's a sidewalk.
If there is no sidewalk available I have no problem with pedestrians sharing the bike lane.
Wasn't that noted earlier?
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Old 05-12-09, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
Thats why there's a sidewalk.
If there is no sidewalk available I have no problem with pedestrians sharing the bike lane.
Wasn't that noted earlier?
What if the side walk is in disrepair? If they're able to use the bike lane for these times, why not allow people in wheelchairs to use bike lanes all the time?
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