A woman rides an electric scooter
Long Beach, News

Electric scooters may serve as obstacle for those on wheelchairs

Katie Brown-Greaves and Haley Martinez

The electric dockless scooter program in Long Beach is in the process of expanding to 4,000 scooters over the next six months, but the presence of e-scooters have become a point of contention for people with impaired mobility trying to access public walkways.

Long Beach announced its electric scooter pilot program last summer and voted in February to continue the pilot. The city was one of the first to require scooters to be placed on sidewalk drop zones after being recharged every day.

However, residents are concerned about the city’s lack of a parking policy for scooters.

Laura Greenwood, a first-year transfer communications major, said electric scooters “zip”  around campus. Greenwood uses a mobility scooter to get around campus and has a tough time going around the drop-off zones for the scooters on the sidewalks.

“Nobody thinks about it. [Electric scooters] are really dangerous and should be banned,” Greenwood said. “They should just collect them and make [people who use electric scooters] pay money if they don’t comply.”

According to Disability Rights California, two lawsuits were filed this year on behalf of people with disabilities in the U.S. District Court under the Americans with Disabilities Act and state anti-discrimination laws.

The lawsuit argued, Long Beach and other cities with e-scooter programs and private scooter companies failed to protect the accessibility of public sidewalks, curb ramps and crosswalks for people with disabilities. In the lawsuit, the group claimed that the electric scooters are using public spaces for private monetary gain.

Carmen Varela, director of the Bob Murphy Access Center, discussed the accessibility of electric scooters.

“When profit becomes more important than people, we need to begin to ask the important question of who really benefits from this program, policy or law,” Varela said. “If the answer is not the people that it purports to serve, there’s the real problem.”

The lawsuit intends to change the way people look at physical accessibility, especially when it comes to public spaces like sidewalks.

“It’s not always easy to do the right thing especially when doing the right thing doesn’t translate into dollar signs,” Varela said.

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