City Council votes to restrict Segways in Boston

The City Council today unanimously adopted a new set of regulations that will limit "electric personal assistive mobility devices" to routes approved by the city transportation department.

People with disabilities will not have to register their Segways with the city or obey the new ban on Segway use on sidewalks and plazas and in parks - but will have to carry proof of their disabilities and will not be allowed to ride more than two abreast.

The measure is aimed mainly at operators of Segway tours - whom some councilors have said pose a growing threat to pedestrians, particularly seniors and parents with strollers - but the restrictions will also apply to non-disabled people who like Segways enough to buy one on their own.

The regulations mean "we control this industry before it gets out of control in the city of Boston and my seniors in the North End will be safe walking the streets," Councilor Sal LaMattina (North End, East Boston, Charlestown) said. LaMattina, the driving force behind the new rules, once had a city official ram him with a Segway to see if it would hurt. It did. He began calling for a Segway crackdown after mothers in Charlestown complained they couldn't get across one intersection one tour operator was using as a starting point for his excursions.

City councilors, city agencies and pedestrian groups spent more than a year developing the new rules.

Under the regulations, tour operators will have to register with the Boston Police hackney unit, which regulates taxis and which will set fees for registration. In addition to proscribed routes, operators will also have to show customers a safety video and have them sign a document that they understand city safety rules before they wheel out onto the streets.

Councilor Maureen Feeney (Dorchester) agreed with LaMattina, but put a positive spin on the regulations. "Certainly it's new technology, it's exciting, it's fun," she said. "We want to create an opportunity for people to explore Boston on thesse vehicles."

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Any statistics supplied on

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Any statistics supplied on how many people in Boston have been injured in Segway collisions to date?

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People with disabilities will have to carry proof?

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Show me your papers! Americans with disabilities will have to carry proof of their disabilities to ride a Segway in Boston but illegals needn't show a thing to vote, collect welfare, public housing etc.? Beyond belief.

ps--Are Segways even popular with people with disabilities or is the exemption just another politically correct bit of nonsense? With many able bodied people falling off or at least struggling to operate them, it seems that it would be a challenge for someone without full use of their hands and feet, at least.

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Just like parking spaces

Nobody needs to carry proof of disability to ride a Segway, they need to carry proof in in order to be allowed to ride a Segway where it would otherwise be banned, ... That's the same deal under which we operate handicapped parking spaces, and that seems to work out OK. How else would you propose to manage it?

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No, not just like parking spaces

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If the city has deemed a Segway to be inherently dangerous on sidewalks, plazas etc., why is there an exception for anyone, disabled or otherwise? Handicapped parking spaces aren't dangerous, just convenient, so there is no comparison. Carving an exception for disabled users "with paperwork" seems patronizing at best.

Segways are dangerous on the sidewalks, but since you're disabled and have paperwork, no need to follow the safety restrictions applied to everyone else, so ride away on the sidewalk, endangering people." Brilliant!

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Really?

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You've never been one to employ logic much, but this really isn't that difficult.

Flocks of people on Segways who don't use one often are more likely to cause harm than one person at a time who uses it regularly for mobility and is used to it. Also, it violates federal law to discriminate against someone using adaptive equipment unless the equipment is like currently going up in flames or something; the city can ban things for being annoying or for pretty much any damn reason it wants, but can't discriminate against people on the basis of a disability. Is this that hard?

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It's not binary

It's not a question of whether or not Segways are inherently dangerous.... Everything poses risks; risks are costs; everything offers benefits. It's a question of cost versus benefit.

Allowing Segways on the sidewalk poses some risk. Allowing handicapped people to operate them on sidewalks offers some benefit.

The proposed regulation takes the (reasonable, IMO, your mileage may vary) position that a few Segways traveling on the sidewalk under the control of experienced regular operators (who would otherwise have mobility problems) offers benefits that outweigh the risks, while allowing large groups of Segway tourists onto the sidewalks with 15 minutes training offers significantly greater risk and significantly less benefit.

Handicapped parking spaces are similar: handicapped spaces impose costs: converting a general-use resident space into a handicapped space forces someone else into a garage; garage parking costs $20 per day; each handicapped space downtown costs the public $6,000 per year ($20 per day x 300 or so days per year during which parking is fully saturated); but against that $6,000 cost we see the benefit of allowing some personal mobility to people who would otherwise be stuck.

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Just like dogs

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It's the same deal as with service animals. If you need a seeing eye dog to get around, you get to bring it anywhere, even to places I can't bring one. If you need a Segway to get to places that your qualified disability places out of reach otherwise, you get to use one.

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How do the airlines get away with it?

What is a "qualified disability?"

I don't doubt that the ADA precludes any private business from asking anyone to prove a disability. I'm wondering, what, in practice, stops people from taking their pet dogs into the passenger cabin of airlines and saying "service animal" to avoid paying the $150 pet transport fee?

It seems an oddly undefined corner of the law.. let's say someone tries to bring a dog into a restaurant. The host says, "Sorry, no dogs." The patron says "Service animal." The host says, "I don't believe you, that's just your pet dog." The person goes away and sues the restaurant under the ADA.

Now fast forward to the court appearance. The restaurant says, "That isn't a service animal, it's just a pet." The patron says, "No, it's a service animal."

What does the judge do? Is the judge allowed to ask for evidence that the person actually has a disability and needs the animal?

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Two interesting links

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The ADA's website with FAQs on service animals and having to register them, etc:
http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm

And here's a story I remember hearing about a couple of weeks ago about a (public) school not allowing a boy to have a service dog for his epilepsy. To be honest I didn't read it on "PawNation" but it was the first thing I found while Googling for the story now haha:
http://www.pawnation.com/2011/01/04/boys-service-d...

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ADA has been around for 20

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ADA has been around for 20 years. All these theories of how it will be abused have come and gone. It hasnt happened.

So yes, you can bring your dog into a restaurant and claim its a service animal, and if they refuse you service, you win $1,000.

Note: If your animal (real service or fake service) is disruptive, then they can legally ask you to leave.

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Still no explanation

The cite given above (which is to a Q&A, not to the actual legislation) limits what a business can do. It does not discuss the limitations on government (if any). Is it a violation of the ADA for the State of Massachusetts to require proof of disability before extending a special benefit not available to everyone else (parking in reserved handicap spaces instead of ordinary spaces?)

If that's not a violation of the ADA, then why would it be a violation for the City of Boston to similarly require proof of disability before extending a special benefit not available to everyone else (operating a motor scooter on the sidewalk?)

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Because getting from point a

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Because getting from point a to point b is open to anyone.

A person is disabled because they need a special tool to assist them in doing the same trip that anyone else can make.

The city isnt saying "disabled people, because we feel bad about it, you can have some segway fun!!!!" theyre saying "we cannot and will not ban the tools you need to get from a to b"

Just replace "segway" with "electric wheelchair"

Wouldnt it be ludicrous to have the police stop people in wheelchairs and ask for proof of disability because it is illegal to operate a motor-vehicle (which an electric wheelchair is) on the sidewalk?

Society just has to accept that a person using a wheelchair (or segway) may be lying and not be disabled and is lazy because asking for proof is a burden that the able-bodied to not have to go through to get from a to b.

Again, you, as an able-bodied person, can transport yourself from a to b without being stopped and asked for papers.

The disabled are asking for (and thanks to ADA, granted) the ability to also be free citizens that can make the same trip without risk of harassment.

Forcing them to carry and show proof every time an officer feels like requesting it is an undue burden, and is illegal.

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Difference between wheelchairs and Segways

The difference between, on the one hand operating an electric wheelchair on the sidewalk and, on the other, using a Segway on the sidewalk or taking a handicapped parking space, is that there is no incentive for a person without disabilities to do the former, whereas there is a big incentive for the latter.

For a person without a disability, there's a huge incentive to park in the handicapped spot: instead of dropping $20 on a garage space and walking 5 blocks, you just pull up right in front of your destination. That's why we need a law to restrict handicapped spaces to people with a legitimate need, and why we require a placard: otherwise people would abuse it.

Nobody without a disability rides a conventional electric wheelchair for fun or personal convenience; there is no profit motive in putting groups of inexperienced electric wheelchair operators onto the sidewalk, and there is no history of conventional electric wheelchairs causing problems for pedestrians; there is no reason to regulate them.

Segways are entirely different: There is a motivation for people without disabilities to use them: they are fun; there is a profit motive to operate Segway tours, there is a growing Segway tours business segment.

Personally, I see about one or two electric wheelchairs in a typical day, and probably about 25 Segways, operating in groups, so there's sa significant difference in scale there. I have not personally seen any problem with the Segways -- they just whiz up the street (not on the sidewalk) exactly as a scooter or bicycle would -- but evidently there have been enough complaints that the City Council felt a need to do something.

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The conclusion you reached,

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The conclusion you reached, as most people with common sense would, is that the TOURS are the problem.

So why is the council banning ALL segways?

Its like banning all bike use in Boston because a bike tour departs from a sidewalk.

"Nobody without a disability rides a conventional electric wheelchair for fun or personal convenience"

Nobody? Im sure people have. And again, police will never stop and ask for proof of disability to allow a person in an electric wheelchair to use their motor vehicle on the sidewalk.

So lets put them together.

I start my "Lazy-man sitting tour of Boston" which invited people to pay $20 to rent an electric wheelchair and get a narrated tour of the city.

The city then says "electric wheelchairs are banned outside of agreed upon routes, and on all sidewalks....but disabled folks are allowed as long as they carry papers"

The councilor would be laughed out of the country. And the city would be sued.

There is no difference. A segway, and an electric wheelchair allow mobility to a disabled person equally.

Which returns us back to the original point.

It is illegal to ask a disabled person to prove their disability.

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And you have not addressed the point about parking spaces

You have not cited the actual laws, only a guidelines site. And the guidelines you cite apply to private businesses, not government entities. And the guidelines you cite apply to service animals, not other forms of accommodation.

Still on the table: Why is it that the government can ask a disabled person to prove his or her disability prior to issuing a handicapped parking placard? And if they can, why is it that "ride a motorized device on the sidewalk" is any different in principle than "use a designated handicapped parking space?"

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There are two ways to violate

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There are two ways to violate ADA.

A code violation. IE: Handrail at wrong height, ramp too steep, denying access to service animal etc

A "spirit of the law" violation. Just because the law doesn't spell out every scenario in the universe, doesn't mean those don't apply. You know why you cant build a new apartment building with stairs in front, and the elevator around back in the alley? Because it's against the spirit of the law, which calls for equal access to the disabled. Forcing the disabled to go around the back is not equal. The ADA law does not spell out the location of elevators, but the "spirit of the law" ensures that elevators are placed in convenient places for the disabled.

(Historic buildings are a whole other story)

Likewise, if an able bodied citizen can go down the street, no questions asked, but a disabled person which requires a mobility enhancement device will get stopped and questioned, then that's not equal.

Thats discrimination, which goes against the spirit of the law. Easy case to win.

And again with parking, Ive already explained it.
It's not analogous. Just like the reduced fare on the T. You can still park your van without using the space. You can still ride the T and pay full fare. You cant just abandon your mobility device and walk.

And on top of that, no actual proof is shown. To get a placard, you need a doctors note (physician fills out form). At no point does any government official say "prove it".

Cops dont stand by handicap spaces, and ask you for documentation to prove that you "deserve" your placard.

Meanwhile this law could potentially force a disabled person to stop 20 times a day and show proof of disability.

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You still have not answered

What principle of law is it that allows the city to restrict one accommodation (parking in reserved handicapped spaces) to people who have documented a need, but forbids the city from similarly restricting a different accommodation (operating a segway on the sidewalk?)

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Analogies and proof

You say,

"You can still park your van without using the [handicapped] space."

That's completely disingenuous. I'm sitting in my living room right now. There is a handicapped space about 20 yards up the street. The nearest other parking space is about 500 yards away and costs $20. My disabled friend can (barely) cover the distance between the handicap space and my house. She could not possibly park in the pay garage and walk the distance to my house. The only way she can visit my block with her own car is to use the handicapped space. The demand for parking spaces vastly exceeds the supply; that's why parking spaces sell for $100,000 to $200,000 apiece. If you didn't restrict the space to people with a demonstrated need, then it would never be open, and the handicapped person would never be able to park on my block.

You also say:

And on top of that, no actual proof is shown. To get a placard, you need a doctors note (physician fills out form). At no point does any government official say "prove it".

Not sure what you're getting at, here; possession of the placard is sufficient proof in the eyes of the law, and a note from a doctor, signed under penalty of perjury, is considered sufficient evidence to issue the placard.

Further, you say:

Cops dont stand by handicap spaces, and ask you for documentation to prove that you "deserve" your placard.

Of course not. A cop's role is not to determine whether or not you "deserve" your placard, only that you display it. Similarly, a cop can't ask you to prove that you know how to drive and therefore that you deserve a drivers' license, only that you produce a valid drivers' license.

By the way it is entirely possible to successfully challenge a handicapped placard; a person with impaired walking (friend of a friend) got annoyed that an able bodied person was using a blatantly fraudulent placard, thereby depriving the disabled person a chance to park anywhere near his house. All it took was a video of the placard holder walking briskly, and the placard was gone quickly.

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One of the keys is "Reasonable accommodation."

What if someone says, "I need to drive my car on the sidewalk because otherwise I couldn't get from A to B?" It would be entirely within the city's rights to say, "No, you need to find some other way of doing it, perhaps by using "The Ride" and then an electric wheelchair to go the last few yards.

I think it would be very hard to demonstrate that a Segway was the only reasonable (or the most reasonable) way to assist people with limited mobility.

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You don't get to decide

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Car driving is a privilege.

Mobility is a right. The person with the mobility need gets to decide - not you, not the government. It is not a matter of convenience.

Any questions?

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Yes.

Operating a Segway is no more or less a right than driving a car.

Does a person with a mobility need get to decide that he has the right to drive his car on the sidewalk, or can the city restrict that?

If the city can restrict driving cars on the sidewalk, why can they not similarly restrict operating Segways on the sidewalk?

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Because theyre not the same.

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Because theyre not the same. Segways and wheelchairs are designed for the express purpose of helping people get from a-to b on a sidewalk. Theyre walking replacements, not driving replacements.

As for the other comment, I have nothing else to discuss because it is obvious that nothing I say can prove to you that the law, in its current form, is illegal. Perhaps in 3 years, once the inevitable lawsuit crawls its way through the courts, we can see who was right.

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Im not looking for "who was right"

I don't have an opinion as to whether or not segways should be allowed.

I'm just pointing out that your argument, "it's up to the disabled person, not the government, to say what assistance device he needs" falls apart.

In particular, you and I agree that the disabled person can clearly operate an electric wheelchair on the sidewalk without needing to prove anything to anybody. We also agree, I think, that having a disability does not grant one the right to operate an automobile on the sidewalk.

An electric wheelchair is clearly an assistive device. A segway may or may not be an assistive device -- one person may say it's a form of wheelchair; another may say it's a form of motor scooter.

I don't think it's at all an open and shut ADA violation to ban Segways.

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You're right that segways

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You're right that segways werent designed for the disabled.

But the idea was that they would replace walking in cities. Of course that fell apart because walking is free, Segways cost thousands, and can't navigate curbs or steps (they need ramps).

So in the end, who ends up using these? Besides novelty commercial use (the tours), it stands to reason that the only private buyers willing to spend the money to get a product inferior to walking are those who have trouble walking. The disabled. And GOB Bluth.

Like I said, any one can ride an electric wheelchair around town, for fun. Just like anyone can ride a segway around for fun. That doesnt take away from the real usefulness to someone with limited mobility.

But perhaps service animals are a better comparison?
Dogs werent domesticated to lead the blind. They were pets (and workers) for centuries before someone figured out that they can be useful for the disabled.

So if Boston, tired of feces on sidewalks and barking at 3am, decided to ban all dogs in the city, but make an exception for the disabled with proof, we'd find ourselves in the same situation.

It's easy enough to see a blind person is relying on a dog, but how about someone who uses a dog for seizures? It would be neither fair or legal to stop the person and ask for proof of disability.

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There are some people who are

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There are some people who are able to stand okay but can't walk for more than a short distance. A segway might be useful for them.

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Most chair users, actually

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Most people who use chairs and scooters can walk, but not for a long distance, maybe not while carrying stuff. If someone has enough balance and stamina to stay upright with support, a Segway is much more convenient than a scooter or power chair -- way cheaper, smaller footprint getting around, fits easier in a car, can more easily be put in the car by one person...

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Yes

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Find other Segway-related news here on UHub where I link to people with disabilities using Segways. Or, just Google it for yourself. Try "disability Segway"...it's not hard. Rather than appear naively incredulous, you could learn something and by doing it on your own it might actually stick with you.

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hey sal, get the dog poop off

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hey sal, get the dog poop off north end sidewalks and then worry about segways. amazing this guy makes $80,000 a year.

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and the mini-bikes

I agree there are more pressing problems than a handful of Segways--Councilors Feeney and Yancey, how about doing something about the hundreds of minibikes, dirtbikes, and unlicensed scooters that terrorize DOT and the Bury? Reckless teens and drug runners love to taunt the cops, zipping down one ways wrong way, riding in the parks, on the sidewalks. If I have to insure and register my car, how do these things get a free pass?

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Can the City Council do something

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to get bicycles and scooters off the sidewalks, too? Now that the weather is warm and gas prices are inching up again, we pedestrians are constantly being yelled at by cyclists who think they have the right of way on the sidewalk!

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Speaking as a bike commuter,

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Speaking as a bike commuter, I agree that it's inconsiderate and dangerous – to both pedestrians and cyclists – for grownups to ride their bikes on the sidewalk, even in places where it is legal.

Why do so many people do it? Probably because they feel that it's too dangerous to ride in the streets with the cars. Take the Mass Ave. bridge. It has a nice wide bike lane, but every day I see bikes on the sidewalk, probably because it's really unsettling to have cars whizzing past at 40-plus miles per hour.

If we want to keep bikes off the sidewalk, perhaps we should also consider reducing the speed of cars to 15-20 mph for most streets in the metro area, so cyclists won't be quite as afraid of getting maimed and killed by the cars. This wouldn't actually slow traffic down as much as you might think. It would mostly just lower the peak speed of cars as they race to the next red light.

And the best way to slow the cars down? Ride your Segways in the middle of the lane!

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Simple solution

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Anyone who's enough of a wuss that they're a-skeert to ride their bikes where they're supposed to shouldn't be riding bikes.

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Stewart, couldn't one just as

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Stewart, couldn't one just as plausibly argue that anyone who is enough of a wuss that they're scared to walk where they might get hit by a cyclist shouldn't be using the sidewalk? Maybe we should all just stay indoors.

Also, I'm having trouble finding the law you cite that says it's illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk anywhere in Boston. Could you please show me the link?

I'll use the bike lane if I believe that it's safe, but otherwise I'm taking the lane. I need to be assured that there won't be any obstructions in the bike lane, and that if I am injured – by a right hook, a suddenly opening door, or a jaywalker – that the police and the courts will back me up. I don't have that guarantee right now, and I'm not going to trade my safety for a motorist's convenience.

A NYC cop recently ticketed a cyclist for not riding in the bike lane. The resulting video is hilarious:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzE-IMaegzQ

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Riding a bicycle on a Boston City Sidewalk is a violation...

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Riding a bicycle on a Boston City Sidewalk is a violation of City traffic rules and regulations. Here is a link: http://www.cityofboston.gov/Images_Documents/Traff...

Note that "Sidewalk" is defined as "[t]hat portion of a street or highway set aside for pedestrian travel." Also note that "Vehicle" is defined as "[e]very device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a street or highway, including bicycles..."

Finally, take a look at Section 18 entitled "driving on sidewalks" on page 21 of the regulations. It reads, "[t]he driver of a vehicle shall not drive on or over any sidewalk except at a permanent or temporary driveway. The driver of a vehicle, prior to driving on or over any such driveway, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian approaching within five (5’) feet of such driveway."

I think that's pretty clearly a prohibition on riding a bike on city sidewalks in Boston, Eoin, what do you think?

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Thanks for finding that link

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Thanks for finding that link Bookerman. I think that puts the oft-repeated "central business district" myth to rest, at least within Boston's city limits.

I should reiterate that I don't advocate riding bikes on sidewalks (except for little kids). It's inconsiderate to pedestrians.

I'm only arguing that many of those who do ride their bikes on sidewalks do so because they're afraid that they will be hurt or killed by cars in the roads. Make the roads safer, and the bikes will disappear from the sidewalks.

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A fair point...

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I have to agree with you that as things stand right now, riding a bicycle on city streets can be pretty dangerous, and at times, very dangerous.

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You could always walk your

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You could always walk your bike on the sidewalk till you get to a safer street. That's what I've always done. Granted it's slower, but I'd rather be safer.

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Why is it that if someone

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Why is it that if someone opens a car door or walks in the street and is struck by a car it is the operator that is at fault, but if the striking vehicle is a bike it is the pedestrian or person opening the door that is at fault. Bike riders should be held accountable to operate their vehicles with the safety of others (and themselves) in mind.fplcb

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Perhaps it would also help if cyclists

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were legally required to use, and stay within, the bike lanes where they are provided.

And, sorry to burst your bubble, but slowing down traffic for the sake of slowing it down - like posting a very low speed limit - does nothing to improve safety, and just doesn't work. The majority of drivers out there will drive at a speed they feel comfortable with based on the road design and conditions.

Google "85th percentile speed", and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

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So requiring cars to obey new

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So requiring cars to obey new lower speed limits is futile, because, hey, cars will be cars. But imposing new laws on cycllists will help because ... how's that work again?

I've actually come up with a pretty good method of slowing down cars to safe speeds: I ride my bike in the middle of the lane. Problem solved.

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That's not what I said.

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But if you are going to impose laws like speed limits, they should be reasonable to the average person and also reasonably enforcable by the police.

If a street or road is designed for safe and comfortable travel at 30 mph, and you post a 15 mph speed limit on it, it's unlikely many drivers will travel at 15 mph. Because, as I said, most drivers will drive at a speed they feel comfortable at. This isn't just some theory, it's been proven with decades of practical experience

Unless you're amenable to spending the additional money to have a police car on every corner to enforce an arbitrarily low speed limit.

And requiring cyclists to use the facility (bike lane) that the highway money provided by drivers paid for is no different than the law that prohibits those same drivers from encroaching on the bike lane. A perfect example of "equal rights, equal responsiblities" - as the bike lobby keeps claiming they want.

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Roadman, I agree that low

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Roadman, I agree that low speed limits are unenforceable without redesigning the streets. So maybe we should redesign the streets...

In any case, gasoline and automobile excise taxes don't come close to paying for automobile infrastructure. Those are paid for by the taxpayers, which include cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, T riders, and, I suppose, Segway riders.

In fact, much of the MBTA's debt is a result of suburbanites demanding easy automotive access to my city, demands that resulted in a project known as the Big Dig.

As a taxpayer who doesn't drive that much, I'm subsidizing all those daily car commuters. I'm paying for your roads and bridges, even the ones I'm not allowed to ride my bike on. I'm paying for your below-market parking facilities. I'm paying for the cops who direct traffic, track down stolen vehicles, and, very occasionally, enforce traffic laws. I'm paying for the subsidies to oil companies. Now that we have universal health insurance in Massachusetts, I'm also paying for the obesity, asthma, and horrific injuries that accompany widespread automobile usage. And I'm paying for our massive military that ensures all this oil keeps flowing into our country.

So quit honking at me, people.

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I also am a taxpayer and a homeowner

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While I own a car, I use a combination of the T and walking to get from my home to my office in Downtown Boston.

So I am paying my share of the money going to build and maintain our infrastructure in three ways: Through the income and property taxes I pay; through the gas and excise taxes, and other fees I pay to own and operate my vehicle, and through the MBTA fares and fees (like if I choose to park at a station) I pay.

I understand that one of the concequences of the current tax and fee system is that some of the money goes to things that those paying into the system don't agree with.

And I do support the rights of cyclists to operate on the public streets, provided they do so in a responsible and respectful manner. I don't have much of an issue with money being spent on bike lanes and such.

However, I do have an issue with a group of people that don't buy fuel for their vehicles (no gas tax) , aren't required to register their vehicles (no fees or excise), and aren't even required to be licensed to operate their vehicles on public streets (again, no fees), who then mandate the infrastructure be rebuilt and re-designed for their needs, only to say "Oh, I don't feel like using the bike lane we had you construct for us, I'll cross into the car lane instead because it's faster for me" and then turn around and demand the police ticket car drivers for encroaching onto the bike lane to make an otherwise safe right turn without unduly impeding the traffic behind them.

It's two different sets of rules for the same situation (use of lanes on public streets) - which is clearly a double standard, and hardly supports the "equal rights and equal responsibilites" mantra the bike lobby claims to be supporting.

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Roadman, what you're

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Roadman, what you're referring to as a "car lane," is, under the law, "a motor vehicle and bicycle lane." There do exist genuine car lanes where bikes are prohibited. They're called highways. If cyclists demanded that cars be ticketed for being in bike lanes while at the same time demanding that they be allowed on highways, then you'd have a double standard there. But that's not happening.

In any case, I don't recall ever being asked about some of the idiotic bike lanes I see around here, like the ones that direct cyclists right into the paths of opening car doors, right hooks, and jaywalkers. If somebody did ask me, I would have opposed them. So i don't see any contradiction in my refusing to use them.

I'll use the bike lanes when I believe that it's safe for me to do so. If I don't feel safe in the bike lane, I take the "car lane." Because my safety outweighs the convenience of the motorists behind me.

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Roads are paid for with

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Roads are paid for with property taxes, not gas taxes.

Bikes are allowed in car lanes and yes, cars are allowed in bike lanes under many circumstances.

Youre usually right on many aspects, but youre 100% misinformed today.

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Gas tax pays for highway

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Gas tax pays for highway style roads. Local roads = property taxes.

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Spot on.

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Well said.

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Regarding right-hand turns

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I don't mind if a driver is waiting to make a right-hand turn and is blocking the bike lane. My problem is when I'm traveling on a bike at 20mph and a driver speeds up to cut me off (in the bike lane), and then comes to a quick stop, causing me to hit the brakes and almost hit him, in order to make a turn. Just as bad are the people who pull out of parallel parking spaces into the bike lane without looking first, causing me to swerve dangerously into the "car" lane.

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Take a look around your house

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Take a look around your house and ask yourself how many items you own/consume (i.e. food) came to you without being transported or made possible (i.e. workers getting to jobs) by use of a motor vehicle. If you can say none then you are subsidizing roads, etc. without getting any benefit. If not, you are only helping to pay for the life style you enjoy.

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Few options

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1) You don't. If you want to go left, stop, get off your bike at the corner, walk it across the crosswalk, set it down and go in the other direction.

2) Make 3 rights.

3) Bike box...lots of them.

4) Nobody's going to make bikes stay in bike lanes (Stupid NYC cop aside). Don't fall for the red herrings.

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That's actually easy.

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You redesign the bike lanes so they end 25 to 50 feet prior to the intersection, giving the left-turning cyclist an area to change lanes.

Problem solved.

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@Eoin

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I'm all for slowing down traffic and making the streets safer for bicyles. If you've got the petition started, I'll sign! Meanwhile, if you are biking and the road is unsafe, do use the sidewalk -- but get off your bike and walk it until you are in a place that's safe to ride in the street again. Does this seem like a fair compromise?

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You got it, JP Gal. That's

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You got it, JP Gal. That's what I'm already doing.

Perceptions aside, I don't believe that it's safer to ride on the sidewalk. Cars don't expect things to dart into crosswalks like that. And pedestrians tend to be even more unpredictable than Boston drivers, and they have every right to be so.

They call it a sideWALK for a reason.

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Thanks, Eoin.

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Now how do we get the word out to everyone else???

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My personal solution would be

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My personal solution would be a guerrilla campaign to blanket the metro area with "Bikes May Use Full Lane" signs every 100 feet. I imagine it would only cost a few hundred thousand dollars. A million tops. You wouldn't happen to have that, by any chance?

If that happened, then we'd end up with a bunch of bikes taking up the whole lane, slowing automobile traffic down. As traffic slowed, more cyclists would prefer the streets to the sidewalks, slowing automobile traffic even further. This would also make things safer for pedestrians, and yes, even those Segway riders who will soon be forced into the street.

As cycling in the city becomes safer, the cycling population would likely start to include a smaller percentage of testosterone-addled daredevils and more regular folks, that is, people who aren't predisposed to risk taking and to law breaking, which would mean fewer cyclists blowing red lights, riding in the wrong direction, and knocking over defenseless pedestrians on the sidewalks.

That utopia would last for a few weeks until the automobile lobby demands that our signs be taken down.

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I ride my bike on the

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I ride my bike on the sidewalk on the Mass Ave bridge often. I also run there almost every day. When I ride I'm going about the same speed as when I run and take up no more sidewalk width.

The sidewalk on the east side is contiguous with the bike path on the Boston side; the bike lane on the bridge is not. In order to continue onto the bike path on my bike from the bike lane when Boston-bound I'd need either to cross Mass Ave and carry my bike over the barrier or continue on to Back or Beacon St, cross Mass Ave there then double back on Mass Ave to get back on the bike path. Sorry, I'm not going to do it.

It safer for me and no more unsafe for anyone else for me to ride the sidewalk. I'm going 6mph (same as my running speed) and I always yield to pedestrians, and get off and walk if the foot traffic is heavy. My aim is not to get across faster, it's to not die while doing it.

I always take the bike lane when I'm Cambridge bound because in that direction there's no issue of crossing Mass Ave to get back on the bike path. Until there's a way to get to the bike lane from the bike path I'm going to continue riding on the sidewalk and of course I'll be perfectly within my legal rights to do so: that is not an area designated as a "central business district" by any municipality, in fact it's not in any municipality, it's state jurisdiction over the river, so state law permits me to ride the sidewalk there. If you have a problem with that I suggest you write your State Representative.

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Thank you...

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For pointing this out. If you approach from the Esplanade and bike up the ramp, you get dumped on the sidewalk over the bridge, unless you want to hike your bike over the guardrail to reach the bike lane (and my bike weighs about 45 lbs).

I admit to being a semi-amphibious cyclist--there are a few places in Boston where I prefer to ride on the sidewalk rather than ride in traffic I consider unsafe. But I'd argue that as with most things, common sense rules. If there are pedestrians near me, I get off and walk. If I'm in a shared space like a multiple-use path, I go slowly, use my bell, and steer a wide berth around people, especially kids, older people and dogs.

I feel kind of bad about the Segways, but boy...I passed a bunch of them touring a couple of weeks ago and couldn't help laughing--they just look so awkward and uncomfortable to me. And I can't help thinking of those photos of GWB taking a tumble off of one. I'll take a bike any day.

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You can reach the bike lane

You can reach the bike lane by taking a left on the sidewalk, ride down a few feet to the ramp coming up from Storrow Drive, and connect to the bike lane there. I agree that it can feel a little unnerving to use the bike lane over the Harvard Bridge, but I think it's safer than a lot of surface roads -- no doors, no one pulling out of spaces, no pedestrians dashing out between cars, no on turning into you.

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Biking on the sidewalk

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I'm also a bike commuter. I ride in the bike lane whenever there is one and in the street if there's no bike lane and I feel "safe enough" in the street.

There is one stretch of my commute where, admittedly, I take a shortcut and go the wrong way on a 1-way street to avoid going several blocks out of my way. For that 200 foot stretch I ride on the sidewalk, however I always go very slowly and give the pedestrians the right of way, because I know I'm the one out of place in that situation.

I think it's more about how you ride, not where you ride.

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Are you really being yelled

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Are you really being yelled at people who think they have the right of the way on the sidewalk? Or are you walking along a bike path, such as the one that runs along the Riverway or the one in the Southwest Corridor Park?

I commute along the Southwest Corridor Park bike path, and I see pedestrians on that path much more often than on the parallel sidewalk. Now, I recognize that the bike path is nicer to walk on than the sidewalk (further from the road, a smoother surface, and better shade), so I try to be polite to other users of it, but some folks might get frustrated at all of the pedestrians on what is supposed to be a bike path.

Another thing to keep in mind is that cyclists yelling at you may not be angry or trying to assert the right of way, but may simply be yelling out a warning that they are passing. Pedestrians can sometimes be unpredictable (suddenly turning around or stepping to the side), and it is helpful to indicate to someone that you're there before passing them. Some people use a bell, while some people shout "on your left" or "passing on your left."

If people are riding on sidewalks, not bike paths, acting like they have the right of way, and yelling at you, then they are assholes, but I've never encountered anyone doing that anywhere I've walked in JP.

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In the Financial District

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where I work, yes, it has happened to me. I wish there weren't so many assholes out there, but there you are.

In JP, the main problem (in addition to the occasional sidewalk cyclist or scooter) is bikes going the wrong way on one-way streets, IMO -- it scares the bejesus out of me when I'm driving, especially at night! Cyclists also use the pedestrian path around Jamaica Pond, which is stricly prohibited, regardless of the age of the biker. Lots of people don't seem to know this, but it is posted way up high on most entrances to the path around the Pond.

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bike paths/sidewalks

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"If people are riding on sidewalks, not bike paths, acting like they have the right of way, and yelling at you, then they are assholes, but I've never encountered anyone doing that anywhere I've walked in JP."

As others have noted, spend 5 minutes on the pedestrian path around Jamaica Pond, where bikes are expressly forbidden, and meet the biking assholes of JP.

Then you can pop over to Allston and wave at the biking assholes who think the sidewalks of Comm Ave and Brighton Ave are there only for their use.

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Someone call up Dean Kamen!

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From the Segway website:

Segway works with commercial and municipal organizations to realize the benefits of zero-emission personal transportation that increase productivity and utilize existing infrastructure. Together with our customers, we help government leaders create the framework to adopt these new technologies and safely and wisely integrate them into society.

The product was touted by some as a way to revolutionize how we consider civil design. It was supposed to be able to extend pedestrian distances/access and drive innovative ideas on how to incorporate MORE sidewalk and LESS road. Clearly, these are not the lessons learned by this city from this product and yet I come away from these draconian regulations feeling like it wasn't the product's fault in the matter.

Leave it to the North End NIMBYs to, instead of working with Segway, just go whole hog in the opposite direction and lock them down seemingly worse than even scooters and across the entire city! Sheesh.

Sometimes you have to wonder WHY anywhere else in this nation considers us one of the most PROGRESSIVE cities in the U.S.

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Didn't work out that way, did it?

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Problem is, nobody can ride a Segway without looking like a complete prat. It was doomed from the start.

However, I agree that it would be better to deal with the hipster shitstains who think they get to ride their bikes on the sidewalk and then worry about the three people who actually bought Segways.

(In a futile attempt to forestall the inevitable carping from people who insist on a convoluted intentional misreading of the laws on the books: No, you're not allowed to ride your bike on the sidewalk in the city of Boston. Deal with it and move on.)

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because you haven't lived in

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because you haven't lived in one of the less progressive cities in this nation...

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Yaaaayyy!!!

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For those people who have been swarmed about on sidewalks by these Segway-hooligans, they are much more annoying than you might expect.

Bravo to the city council for doing something about it!

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Wow...just wow...

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Is this even legal? Can the city really ban personal use of Segways on all public streets? I understand putting some restriction on the tour operators, however, this ordinance is absolutely draconian. I had a coworker at my last job who used his Segway every day to get to our Tremont St. office. To my knowledge he doesn't require it's use or have any "apparent" disabilities, so now he won't be able to use his Segway in Boston anymore.

Their justification is that Segways would hurt if they hit someone and some Charlestown moms couldn't get across the street when the tour groups were departing. That's it?

You know what else hurts when it hits you? Bicycles. Strollers. Scooters. Cars....

And quite often I can't get across a street because of all of the cars driving down it, or have to walk around 2 moms pushing strollers and scooters parked on the sidewalk, or have to jump out of the way of bikes which, in the financial district, seem to come out of nowhere.

So what's the next step...ban cars? Strollers? Bikes? If the Mayor was a Segway enthusiast you can bet this never would have been an issue. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

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Segways are motor scooters.

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Segways are motor scooters. They should be allowed any place a bicycle or low-power moped is allowed, which would include any street except a limited access state highway.

This bill would ban them from streets, except as part of a licensed tour on a designated route. I think that's a bad idea.

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ADA lawsuit incoming

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Open your pockets folks, because tax monies will be flying out in quick and easy lawsuit. A lawyer wont ever make an easier buck.

Asking someone to prove their disability = illegal.

Just like asking someone to prove their service animal is for a disability = illegal.

So as soon as the first cop demands proof of disability, payday arrives.

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Yes and no

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Asking people to disclose the details of their disability to the cop or business owner or whomever is illegal. Requiring people to disclose it once to an official who issues paperwork is not. Housing and employment can require people to provide a letter in order to get an accommodation. Accessible parking placards and MBTA TAP cards require documentation to get. The city needs to either issue Segway permits for PWD or else needs to agree to just do "do you have a disability? ok, you're fine then" as is done when people try to kick people using service animals out of places etc.

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The way the article is

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The way the article is worded:
"People with disabilities will not have to register their Segways with the city or obey the new ban on Segway use on sidewalks and plazas and in parks - but will have to carry proof of their disabilities"

Makes it sound like "papers please" which is illegal. Especially if a disabled person will be stopped every 5 minutes and asked to show proof of disability.

ADA is about anti-discrimination and equal access to public facilities. Forcing a disabled person to stop and prove disability constantly goes completely against that, and thus, is illegal.

The MBTA TAP situation is different. The disabled are being offered a benefit that normal citizens are not, a reduced fare. If the disabled had to prove disability to enter the system with a wheelchair or service animal, then that would be illegal. Theres nothing stopping a disabled person from paying full fare. The disabled do not need to prove anything to bring a service animal. They just need to say "yes this is a service animal" if asked.

Same with parking spot. A disabled person can "opt out" of the proving process by parking in any other spot.

In this case, there's no opt out. Someone who REQUIRES a segway to transport themselves in the same manner than an able bodied person could (ie, walk across the street) must stop and present papers every time.

Illegal.

As you said, if the extent of enforcement is "are you using this to assist your mobility or is this for leisure?" then that's fine.

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I hope youre not a small

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I hope youre not a small business owner. If you are, please read the ADA law before you get hit with a large fine (ADA lawsuits can be extremely easy to win).

Asking someone to prove disability is ILLEGAL.

Please see my above response.

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Cite please?

Are you saying that if I ask someone to prove their disability by displaying a handicapped placard before parking in the designated handicapped spot in the (hypothetical) parking lot of my small business, I am in violation of the law? I'd want to see a cite on that.

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Again, this isnt about

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Again, this isnt about handicap spaces (which are a bonus).

Its about equal access and discrimination.

You cannot ask someone to prove their disability which warrants a service animal. If you have a non-compliant section of your store (like a non-compliant restroom) and the handicapped patron complained, you cant say "prove your disability requires handrails".

In this case, you cant stop someone on a segway, and ask them to prove their disability.

A handicap person can also park in a normal space.

Handicap placards exist because those spaces have extra-wide loading zones, allowing for wheelchairs to be loaded onto vans. Without a placard system, other people would park there. But again, a disabled person can park in any other spot, and opt out of the proof process.

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A disabled person cnnot park in any other spot

Handicap placards don't exist "because those spaces have extra wide loading zones"; an on-street handicapped space is exactly like any other on-street space except for the rules governing who can park there.

In the case where there is a reserved handicap space in front of the disabled person's house or in front of the business that the disabled person wants to patronize, and the neighborhood is fully saturated (meaning that, certain hours of day, there is no on street parking available, then it is disingenuous to say that the disabled person could park in any other spot. Saying that the disabled person has other options to using the handicapped spot is exactly like saying that the disabled person using a Segway has other options.

I just don't see where the city would be running afoul of any ADA rules if it treated the right to ride Segways on the sidewalk exactly like the right to use reserved handicap spaces. Get the documentation together to demonstrate the need, get a sticker for your Segway, and you're done.

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Theory vs. Reality

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Most of the above posts (excluding the ones which deal strictly with bicycles) approach the subject from a purely theoretical context.

One theory is that these machines may have some use for people with disabilities. No one in this thread, however, has claimed to know (or know of) an actual person with any form of disability who actually uses one of these machines. The reality is that many forms of disabilities would preclude safe use of such a machine. There is, for example, a risk of falling off the machine, and people with frail bones or any sort of balance problems would be wise to avoid them. Also, in case the machine fails, the operator has to be able to control a heavy, bulky object with an inherently unstable shape (unlike the scooters that disabled people commonly use).

It is one thing to talk about these machines traveling singly, controlled by an experienced operator who is exercising reasonable caution and concern for the safety of other members of the general public who are around him or her. The reality in Boston to date, however, is that we're talking about packs of 8 to 12 machines, operated by people who are seeking an "adventure", who've had about 15 minutes experience using one of them, and who have complete unfamiliarity with the streets and neighborhoods where they are traveling. These novice users have no choice but to blindly follow the directions of the one group leader who accompanies them. In my personal experience, these group leaders have absolutely no concern for anyone who is not one of their paying clients.

My personal interactions with these group tours, and with their leaders, have included verbal and physical intimidation and threats. I have feared for my own safety and for the safety of children who have been entrusted to my care.

It is my personal opinion, based on multiple personal experiences, that the leaders of these group tours would be better suited for careers as enforcers-in-training for organized crime. The ones that I have had to deal with have an attitude that is wholly unsuited for the safe use of these machines in an urban context. I am glad that someone has stepped up to try to regulate them.

As for people with disabilities, the reality is not the person with precisely the right sort of disability who might find one of these machines useful. The reality is the person walking with a cane (or using a wheelchair or a scooter) on a public sidewalk, who feels threatened and intimidated by packs of these heavy machines traveling around her, at a rate of speed much faster than is usual for sidewalk travel, oblivious to the other people in their path.

(It is my normal practice to use my full name when posting to blogs such as this. But based on my previous interactions with the operators of these group tours, I am fearful of retaliation for my comments, and must therefore make this post anonymously.)

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I've been down at the

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I've been down at the waterfront at the Christopher Columbus park when the segway tour group raced through. The area was packed with people and the segway riders fanned out and were going to fast, completely oblivious. Just because you pay to ride on a segway, doesn't entitle you to treat the sidewalks, parks and streets of Boston as your own personal yuppy racetrack.

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City Council votes to restrict Segways in Boston

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Councilor LaMattina, What is the matter, are you NOT getting enough pocket money? Sounds more like a shakedown that violates federal anti-racketeering laws.
What harm is being done? Boston gets a bad reputation now, and Luddites like yourself want to harass people that are having an enjoyable time, in a wonderful city. Are you sure you're not really a Puritan. They believed having fun was a sin.
You should tell the truth, it will set you free, and then you will be able to enjoy life. Like so many others, you only see the negative, because you are afraid of something you do not understand.
As a result, you constantly lived in fear.
These new regulations make me think I am residing in 1920's and 1930's Germany. Should I be goose stepping?

The invitation to go on a glide still stands, but we can all see how this would violate YOUR new dictates. SEIG HEIL!

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Hmm, taking a little time off

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Hmm, taking a little time off from writing fake reviews on Trip Advisor?

Oh Danley, we will all be so happy when you're gone! Use your free time to get some therapy.

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