Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Fun, Fun, Fun 'til the Police Take Your Lawnmower Away"

My brother sent me a link to a news story about a man with cerebral palsy who uses -- or rather, did use -- a converted riding lawnmower to get around town. Now the police in his town have prohibited him from using the substitute vehicle on the streets. The town is Camdenton, which is located on the popular vacation destination of Lake of the Ozarks. That means the place is busy, and there's ample reason to worry about vehicle safety. The people suggested that he use a public transport service, one that operates by appointment.

That's fine, of course. But there is the idea that we should be as independent and self-reliant as we can, and that applies whether we have a mobility disability or not.

I ran my power wheelchair on the streets when we lived in a small town. I don't know if it was legal or not. I'd wave at the local police passing in their patrol cars, and none stopped me. And I did foolish things, things that I knew were endangering me as I did them, things like power-chairing home from work in winter darkness in a wheelchair that was mostly black while wearing a dark winter coat. But I did it because it made me independent. By taking to the streets, I needed to wait for no one and no one needed to wait on me.

There's a lot to be said for quiet small towns. Camdenton is anything but quiet, at least from April through October, and logic says the guy and his lawnmower shouldn't be on the street.

But I've done it. And I don't blame him for trying.

1 comment:

Carter said...

Well, in Boston, a medium-sized provincial capital, electric wheelchairs zip all over the place. and nobody seems to mind, but, of course, the Nanny state may be getting ready to shove them back into the garage.

They're on the sidewalks, and they cross the streets. The corner I live near is a death trap for anybody--the traffic light pattern is ill-designed, and nobody pays any attention to the sign that says no right turn on red. I take my life in my hands every time I walk across at that corner. But people in electric wheelchairs are there, too, taking their chances with everybody else. The other day one woman blithely scooted her chair across the wide street--three lanes of traffic plus a left-turn lane--when the light was in the process of changing. She nearly got hit, but the next day she took the same route, maybe being a little more careful.

I think the bicyclists who think they're "green" and therefore can ignore the traffic lights are the real menace. They scare the hell out of me when I'm driving or walking. I'd like to see them fined heavily for all the crap they pull, but nobody enforces the traffic laws here no matter what goes on. That in a city known for having the worst drivers in creation.

I think the disabled ought to raise hell and get that Camdenton law repealed.