An advocate for people with disabilities is suing the city of Minneapolis and two electric scooter sharing companies, alleging the vehicles have made sidewalks inaccessible. The suit alleges that Minneapolis officials have failed to “adequately maintain the system of sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps, transit stops, pedestrian crossings and other walkways.” While making a hefty profit, the e-scooter companies have transformed public space into “private retail stores, showrooms, highways, and storage facilities,” the suit alleges, all “in abject disregard for the safety and access rights of residents or visitors with disabilities to the City of Minneapolis.”
Noah McCourt, who has autism and a coordination disorder that slows his reaction time, said he’s constantly dodging scooters on the sidewalk, and was left with a large bruise on his leg after tripping over a scooter at a light rail station.
McCourt said the vehicles are also an impediment to people who use wheelchairs. He claims in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that the city and scooter companies are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Cities always act like this is no big deal,” McCourt said. “They pooh pooh you. But this is a big deal for people with disabilities.”
A Minneapolis spokesperson said the city is not commenting on the lawsuit.
Lime, one of the other defendants, said in a statement that it has “engaged disability advocates,” and is working to “educate riders and the community about proper riding and parking etiquette to ensure scooters are parked in an orderly, respectful way.”
Bird, the other scooter operator named in McCourt’s lawsuit, ended operations in Minneapolis in late 2018.
The electric scooters reach up to 15 mph. They are dockless, meaning users can leave them anywhere — a perennial source of criticism for those who find them unsightly. Riders aren’t supposed to use sidewalks, but many do, and emergency room doctors say they’ve seen an uptick in injuries since the scooters arrived, mostly from people not wearing helmets.
The litigation follows a similar federal suit filed earlier this year in San Diego.
Minnesota law generally prohibits riding electric scooters on sidewalks. There are about 3,000 of the devices in use in the Twin Cities.
Sources: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/10/16/lawsuit-seeks-to-clear-sidewalks-of-escooters ; http://www.startribune.com/disability-rights-advocate-sues-rental-scooter-companies-alleging-blocked-sidewalks/563240172/
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®