The other day I was at the bus shelter on the NE corner of 18th & Washington waiting on the #97 bus when I see a man heading eastbound in a wheelchair. Â No big deal, I see other wheelchair users daily. But this man wasn’t using the wide sidewalk — he was in the roadway!
The next day I’m at the same bus shelter to catch the #97 again and the same man passes by in the road again — this time heading westbound.
I watched as he went past diagonally-parked cars west of 18th. I was shocked to see him stay in the roadway rather than on the sidewalk.
Yes, there have been times where I’m forced to travel in the roadway due to lack of a sidewalk. On those rare occasions I’m on a low traffic side road, not a major road like Washington Ave. The Schlafly Tap Room is only four blocks directly west of my place but due to numerous places without curb cuts I have to go up to Washington Ave rather than Locust. Â If I go to 21st I will end up on the road from St. Charles St to Locust (one short block). Â When I remember, I use 20th to head south to Locust then west to 21st to avoid being in the road. Â Either way I have to cross 21st in the middle of the block between Locust & Olive since the SW corner of Locust & 21st doesn’t have a curb cut.
I know I’m safer staying on the sidewalks — crossing roads only at crosswalks. Obviously not all wheelchair users feel the same. My assumption is some users face so many obstacles trying to use sidewalks they just give up and use the road. Â Or maybe they used to walk in the road rather than on the sidewalk and do the same now that they use a wheelchair?
I should try to talk to this guy to find out.
- Steve Patterson