San Diego

Disability Rights Group Sues San Diego, 3 Companies Over Dockless Scooter ‘Onslaught'

A class-action lawsuit filed this week claims the city of San Diego and three companies have failed to keep city sidewalks clear from an "onslaught of unregulated dockless scooters."

Bird, Lime, Razor and the city of San Diego are named in the lawsuit as violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by neglecting to keep the city's sidewalks clear of dockless scooters for people who are visually impaired and who use wheelchairs and walkers.

"I've been hit a couple times. People just run into the front of my chair," said Jean Rocque, a wheelchair user. "I've actually had to pick 'em up off the sidewalk and swing em around. I can't pick 'em up but I can maneuver them out of my way."

Rocque is not part of the suit but hopes it does something to make her life easier.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Southern Court of California by Disabilities Rights California (DCA), a national non-profit disabilities rights group, on behalf of Alex Montoya, Rex Shirley, Philip Pressel, Aaron Gresson and other people with disabilities.

The lawsuit describes times where Montoya, who was born without arms and one leg, and Gresson, who is blind, were almost struck by oncoming scooters that they could not prepare for because of their limited mobility. 

"The dockless scooter riders often ride the Scooters on the sidewalk, turning the sidewalk into a vehicle highway rather than a space for safe pedestrian access and use," the lawsuit said. 

Bob Frank, one of the attorneys who filed the suit, said the city is creating an environment where it is endangering disabled people.

"Some of them don't go out," he said. "They live in fear because of the presence of scooters and the hazards they present to them." 

People such as Shirley and Pressel, who use mobility scooters, are prevented from using the city's sidewalks, the lawsuit alleges.

"My life is totally changed," Pressel said. "They whiz by speeds, inches away from my scooter."

At times, both have run into the transportation devices as they lay on the sidewalk. 

"They should not be parked on the sidewalk," Pressel said. "If they're parked on the sidewalk people who don't know assume we're going to ride on the sidewalk and that's not right." 

In at least one instance, Shirley was unable to leave his home because of dockless scooters blocking the entrance, the lawsuit said. 

"People with disabilities who wish to travel in the City using the City’s walkways are being forced to either put their physical safety at risk or just stay home. This is not a choice that they should have to make," the lawsuit said. 

Frank said the goal of the lawsuit is not to take scooters away, but to make it safer for disabled people.

"We're hoping the court agrees and can help construct a solution to this that neither the city or the scooter companies have come up with yet," he said.

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