Meet a United States military veteran who goes by the name John Plantaseed. He is disabled and travels around Atlanta in a wheelchair. I apparently crossed paths with him two years ago because I have this picture of him in my A Streetcar Named Aspire photo essay album (which now has 1,232 photos, by the way). We’ve crossed paths again on Twitter because he is adamantly opposed to the scooters continually blocking sidewalks all over Atlanta and he keeps tagging me in his posts. You can see what he’s dealing with in one of his many videos here.
I know that the Atlanta City Council is working on a draft ordinance about the scooters. I know that Peds Atlanta advocates for pedestrians and those with disabilities. I know that the Americans with Disabilities Act supposedly secures the rights for those with disabilities to access public spaces. I know that what John is experiencing is not only wrong but illegal — and yet, again today, when he tries to go somewhere, it will happen. In fact, I saw the scooter litter pictured below yesterday when I was Traveling at the Speed of Bike. What I don’t know is what we are truly prepared to do to stop this. Now. Today. On Veteran’s Day.
Someone thanked John for his service yesterday. He replied that he is not done serving yet. John’s voice about access in our public spaces is a service to those with disabilities everywhere. Thank you, John. It matters. You matter. And I hear you.
Note: I am a fan of all emerging micro-mobility devices, and anecdotally I can tell you that people are using them probably about 5-to-1 over bikes right now in Atlanta. However, I agree this blockage issue is critical to solve immediately. Santa Monica, which so far is my favorite place to ride a bike in the USA, just introduced off-sidewalk scooter parking corrals, and I heard something about Bird adding little latches to scooters so that they can be secured to bike racks and thus not fall over and block sidewalks. There are other geofencing and sensor advances being tested as well.