E-scooters causing concern with wheelchair users in Tucson

E-scooters cause concern for wheelchair users

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - E-scooters touched down in Tucson Thursday and the feelings about them are a mixed bag.

Some say they’ll be a low cost way to get around while others are focused on the clutter and dangerous conditions they’ll create.

Especially for those who need the sidewalks cleared the most.

“I’ve had my disability my whole life," said Gabrielle Ficchi, who has been using an electric chair for 15 years.

Being born with cerebral palsy means she relies on her wheelchair to get from point A to B.

It hasn’t come without a few bumps in the road. Ficchi said Tucson already has a few unsafe sidewalks due to the condition they’re in. But now she’s facing another threat.

"So this one up in front of us is definitely a little close,” Gabrielle pointed out as she drove down the sidewalk in midtown, where a majority of the e-scooters were placed Thursday.

One scooter she saw was left around 4 feet away from the building. Gabrielle’s chair takes up about 2 1/2 of those feet, leaving little room around her.

“They’re not considering that a power chair the size of mine is going to come by and maybe need a little extra room,” she said.

For now, she’s able to squeeze by. But things can become dangerous if there’s no room at all.

“Not only do you have to turn around and go back but for that whole stretch of time that you’re (trying to get) around the scooter, you’re in the road,” she said.

The Bird and Razor apps encourage parking the scooters safely. Both also require you take a picture of the scooter after you park it, but Ficchi said people probably won’t think twice about her six wheels.

Tucson is in the beginning of the pilot program, meaning the e-scooters can go away at any time if the city chooses. But if they are here to stay — Gabrielle asks everyone to remember to share the sidewalks.

“Respect us and our needs,” she said.

Both apps do allow you to report when a scooter is left lying around. Bird recently rolled out “community mode” that allows you to report scooters to the company with a few taps in the app.

Razor’s website states they have parking monitors that continuously circulate through the city, moving scooters and addressing complaints.

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