Street is often safer for mobility scooters than sidewalks, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I read with interest your advice to the Live Oak woman who uses a motorized scooter for mobility (10/31/11). Your expert advised her, quite sensibly, to stay on the sidewalk whenever possible. That is well and good, however, some motorized scooters have a stability issue when it comes to negotiating the dip and curve of driveways across sidewalks. They tend to tip, which is why many scooter users opt for the bicycle lane instead. Motorized wheelchairs are different, inasmuch as they have additional balancing wheels that allow them to roll over uneven pavement with good balance. However, both modes of transportation encounter problems with damaged, too narrow or blocked sidewalks, or sidewalks without handicap 'ramps' for on and off accessibility. Neither can manage to go up or down a curb in order to get on or off the sidewalk. There are still many such sidewalks in the area, which makes traveling in a mobility device hazardous. This is why you will see such modes of transportation in the bicycle lane or on the shoulder of the road. Thank you, Gale W. Geurin, Capitola A: Thank you for providing your insights on a subject that able-bodied folks don't think about. It definitely brings a broader view to many safety issues faced by the mobility challenged. Your comments show the gray area between doing what's best for personal safety while trying to obey traffic laws, which are supposed to keep us safe. "All the more reason for motorists and bicycles to operate at a safe speed and remain aware," said officer Sarah Jackson of the CHP's Aptos office, of their surroundings and the limitations of other road users. Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission makes it easier for community members to report unsafe sidewalks due to such things as disrepair or blockages. Check it out at After filling out and submitting the online form, the RTC sends the notice to the respective jurisdiction the unsafe sidewalk belongs to for follow-up.
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