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Power Wheelchairs Aren’t Vehicles

April 27, 2012 Accessibility, Featured, North City, Transportation 14 Comments

I use a power wheelchair when I go out for a long “walk” or if I’m using mass transit. In doing so I stick to the sidewalks and crosswalks as best I can, I know this is safer for me. But others seem to think their chairs are vehicles. I’ve posted before about wheelchair users in the street. Recently I saw one in the street that had me and everyone on the bus in shock:

ABOVE: This guy came from Page Ave and went north on Kingshighway between the lanes
ABOVE: Close up we can see an oxygen tank on the chair

Really? Maybe he needs help understanding how to get around safely? He probably used to bicycle against traffic. I just don’t get it, I can’t think of a more dangerous place for him to be.  The sidewalk in that part of Kingshighway is fine for use.

– Steve Patterson



Currently there are "14 comments" on this Article:

  1. RyleyinSTL says:

    Clearly that guy is extremely daft or has steel balls (perhaps both).  I realize that some areas of the city are not very wheelchair friendly but this example seems ill advised. As Steve has demonstrated time and time again…if the city infrastructure is negating your ability to get around call your alderman and get it fixed. It will help you and everyone else.

    Pedestrians in traffic is a huge issue in STL.  I’m always shocked to see how many people choose to cross the street (not at intersections) and then stand in the middle of the road waiting for traffic to clear. I run into this all the time on Kingshighway between I64 and Chippewa.  These people have a death wish for some reason.  What really ticks me off is when they drag their kids along – endangering them and instilling the idea in a new generation that this is okay.  The Police seem disinterested in ticketing these individuals so they are left to fight it out amongst themselves for the Darwin Award.

    • Branwell1 says:

      I am generally on the pedestrian’s side of things, but there are reasonable limits. Too often I see people walking nonchalantly in the middle of the street, ignoring well lighted, perfectly good sidewalk nearby. I know I have driven into Darwin’s Waiting Room if they angrily refuse to move when vehicles approach.   

  2. Scity63116 says:

    While the city had lost much of it’s pedestrian friendly urban design, we’ve also lost much of our politeness and social grace as a society.  Those that are walking in the streets don’t care that they’re in the way.  It’s all about them and screw you for thinking otherwise.  You can rework sidewalks all you want, but that isn’t making the school system better or the crime less.  Those are the reasons that many have left the city.

    • Eric says:

       You don’t avoid crime by operating your wheelchair in the street as opposed to on the sidewalk.

  3. aaronlevi says:

    my wife works for paraquad, so we’ve discussed this several times. Her claim is that a lot of the sidewalks in St. Louis are in such poor repair that it can be near impossible for a person in a wheelchair (manual or power) to navigate them. but even with that said, she i’m sure would agree that this is insane and this guy appears to have a death wish. 

  4. Moe says:

    This is ONE FINE EXAMPLE Steve.   But only one.  I have seen toooooooo many IDIOTS (and that is what they are) cross the street, walk or ride against traffic, in traffic.  And I’ve even seen a wheelchairer start to cross the street….full well knowing that a firetruck with ALARMS sounding bearing down on his ass….and yet he still proceeded and made the ft veer around him.

    And don’t even get me started on the IDIOTS that ride on the sidewalk and will run right over your ass if you are walking too slow for them.  And then there are the baby carriages…as if hauling around some brat in a mini car allows you the right to run me, my body parts, my dog over.

    Then they wonder why there is such annymosity towards them.

    • Sstupid and inconsiderate come in many forms. On the opposite side I see people walk out of places without paying attention and walk right into my path, I have to come to a complete stop to not hit them. Everyone needs to think, use logic, and be aware of their surroundings.

      • Cheryl says:

        I see this all the time,   groups of people walking right toward me with no sign of making way. I used to step  onto  the grass to let them pass, but got tired of people not even acknowledging I was there and wondering if I were just invisible. So, now I just stand still till people notice me and get on their own side of the sidewalk. 

        Or sometimes a group uses up the whole width of the sidewalk and proceeds very slowly, not caring at all that your are right behind them and would like to get where you are going.They don’t see that the sidewalk is a thoroughfare to get places, just like the road is. A lot of people who visit the city have no experience with sidewalks. A sad fact.

    • Master Yoda says:

      People ride on the sidewalk due the absence of bike infrastructure and drivers who nearly hit cyclists.

  5. Douglas Duckworth says:

    This demonstrates the need for mental health care services and public health spending. We treat poor old people like dirt. If I was confined to a wheelchair in a depressed section of town I would probably do the same thing. Social rules break down with divestment and neglect.

  6. Moe says:

    @Master Yoda….Darth Sidious disagrees.   I have seen WAY too many cyclists that cruise down the street, both on the correct and wrong sides…and just wheel right through the intersection WITHOUT looking.  Same with scooters, wheelchairs, scooters and the like.  Not everyone mind you, but enough of them to cast a scornful look from drivers and pedestrians alike.  Faulty your logic is!

  7. 63101 says:

    I work in the CWE near several apartment buildings used by the elderly/disabled, and I see this happening all the time up and down Taylor.  I have often ended up making a right turn onto a street only to nearly crash into someone in a power wheelchair, because they are riding it the wrong direction and doing so in the lane of traffic.

  8. guest says:

    I just came across this article but must comment. Never in my life have I ever seen a city filled with so many people who just use the streets as their own personal walkway. I can’t tell you how many times I had to slam on my breaks just because someone (or a group) decided to cross right in front of me, and not only was the street NOT busy, but the intersection with a crosswalk light was merely yards away. And worse yet, when they decide to cross, they don’t hurry, they hold their hand up, making me stop, and then they lope, drag their feet, and take their time, all the while I am wondering if I am going to get rear-ended. This has happened many, many times, and I have witnessed this happening others as well. It has NOTHING to do with lack of sidewalks, or crosswalks or even a busy street…I have seen it way too often to know better. It is purely self-centeredness and just not caring about common civility. 

  9. kelvin strom says:

    Wheel chairs helps to make it easier for people to move and is
    compact, portable and easy to use.


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