Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Are wheelchairs at war with bicycles?

"Are wheelchairs and bikes at war with each other?"
The hipster culture seems to to have taken over the city.  Don't get me wrong, i can appreciate a particular style and sense of belonging. I'm happy that this generation finds new ways to have fun and new place where they can spend time. I'm not that much older than some of them and I remember the nights when I use to live it up after a week of law school.  But the city is for all of us to enjoy. We all need to get around. Everywhere I turn on some evenings these days, I see a bike. And I do mean everywhere. The Top crowd seems to tie their two-wheeled vehicles to absolutely anything in sight. Tuesday night I've noticed many of them locked to trees, stop signs, parking signs , lamp posts and anything that resembled a railing for up to two blocks away. And this often becomes a problem when they leave wheels sticking out into the sidewalk. You see, I'm in a wheelchair. When my path is blocked i simply can't get by. Now I've been in situations when I scratched myself all my chair when I tried to squeeze myself into the little area an inconsiderate biker left. I guess he was in a hurry or had somewhere to be, why would he ever concern himself with the needs of   others? Now, where it really becomes a problem is the Hippodrome Theatre. There's a wheelchair ramp that leads up to the building with a visible Do not block sign painted on the bottom. Still, I've seen people tying their bike to a railing it has and hopping over to Boca Fiesta. A lot of times, when I go to see a movie and I do so most every week, I see many them left there, tied to both sides, inside and out. It becomes really dangerous. The handles and pedals stick oculut, it's too tight to get through and the ramp is steep. You could see that none of their owners were even at the movies, not that it would make it better. I've been clinched between two bikes before and had to scream for strangers help to get me out. I have a lot of consideration for subcultures in Gainesville as they make our scene vibrant. It's a shame that I'm not offered the same courtesy. But then, it feels not too uncommon in Gainesville. Bars set up their portable waiting lines way too far into the sidewalk and are forced to move it as a I try to get by, while the police routinely parks cars in a way that blocks the ramps on the corner. I had to call a dispatcher a few times because I couldn't get off the sidewalk, because it seems nobody seems to think about how difficult it may be for someone like me.


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  2. I think they are... people on bicycles don't see us... and when they do, they see us as encrouching on THEIR territory. When it's the other way around really, since curbcuts are for OUR use, not theirs. Bikes are to be used out in the streets, but I don't know how many times I've had bicycles come careening down the sidewalk and yelling at me to get out of the way, when I'm the pedestrian in my motorized wheelchair.

  3. I honestly don't think the cyclists realize they are blocking your way. Is there any enforcement or awareness that could help?