This Wheelie, Wheelie Sux

Anyone who has ever been in a wheelchair knows how frustrating it is to get around. And anyone who has ever driven a car knows how frustrating it is to avoid unexpected obstacles—moving or not—in the road.

And then comes this kid from Iowa. He’s a 14 year old kid who keeps getting fined for rising his motorized wheelchair on the streets of Laurens.

Is he a traffic hazard? Sure.
Should he be on the street? Of course not.

When I first heard the story on CNN my gut reaction was to side with the cops—a wheelchair going down the side of the road is a safety hazard. Then came the little piece that makes a difference: Laurens, Iowa does not have curb cuts on its sidewalks.

It’s hard enough to get up and down curbs in a manual wheelchair. It’s damn near impossible in a motorized chair. Without curb cuts—those places where the sidewalk levels off with the street—this kid has no choice. It’s either ride in the street, or be held hostage to a town that hasn’t complied with the ADA of 1990.

Yep, they’ve had 13 years, and they haven’t bothered to make their town accessible for those with limited mobility.

So sure, I see the cops’ point. The kid is a safety issue.
And I definitely see the kid’s point. His town has done nothing to make it possible for him to get around.

Tally the points up—I think the kid wins. The town must provide curb cuts, not only for this one teenager, but for anyone needing reasonable access. Will they? I doubt it. Not until forced to by lawsuits that could bankrupt them. Then no one wins.

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