Pedestrian safety tips for mobility scooter users

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I follow your informative column every Monday in the Sentinel and enjoy it very much. I do have a question for you: I am a disabled senior woman who rides on a battery operated four wheel 'mobility scooter.' Occasionally, I drive on local sidewalks around the Live Oak area and travel not far from my mobile home. Since I do not need a California driver's license to operate the scooter and use it to ride on sidewalks, I would like to know that if I have it well marked with colored flags on poles, is it unlawful to ride on the street closest to the sidewalk? Certainly, I would not ride where the cars travel, I just need to know what the DMV recommends. I have been unable to get through to them to ask what they suggest. Thanks for any reply, Rita Leibovitz, Live Oak A: “I would urge her to ride on the sidewalk whenever one is available,” said officer Sarah Jackson, spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol. “She is certainly allowed to ride on the roadway as any other pedestrian would, but the sidewalk is highly preferable, due to the slower comparative speeds and the mobility scooter's limited agility in avoiding an impending collision.” Jackson also advised that “a pedestrian on a mobility scooter, wheelchair or motorized chair should be afforded the same right-of-way and responsibilities as any other pedestrian.” Portola Drive Update Last Monday, Street Smarts told the survival tale of Steve Price, a 46-year-old landscaper who was struck while he crossed Portola Drive at 32nd Avenue. Price suffered a cut to his head and muscle strain. The driver was cited for unsafe speed. That area of Portola has seen some bad traffic collisions in recent years, including two toddlers being run over by a driver using the rolling stop method as she made a right turn from 30th onto Portola. That also was the site where a California Highway Patrol officer was broadsided by a motorist who didn't stop. In response to last week's column, Street Smarts has received emails from readers who have been asking the county for years to do something to improve safety along Portola Drive. Ideas include a refuge island in the middle of Portola at 32nd, installing digital speed limit signs, building flashing crosswalks and reconfiguring the intersection of Portola and 30th, which has a busy 7-Eleven store whose patrons aren't necessarily using due care as they enter and exit the property, readers said. County officials, including Supervisor John Leopold and public works civil engineers, tell Street Smarts they pledge to take a close look at the area and brainstorm traffic engineering options that will make that street safer. Meanwhile, while Portola had already been on the CHP's watch list, officer Sarah Jackson, CHP spokesperson has responded to reader concerns by requesting beefed up enforcement along Portola. That includes responding to complaints that, like motorists, bicyclists aren't stopping at stop signs, either, she said.
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