You are all afraid. I see the fear wherever I go, it’s in how you move out of the way of my path, six feet ahead of me, before I’m even remotely close to your personal space. It’s in how you carefully shuttle your partner out of harm’s way, as I’m coming down the sidewalk. It’s also in the relief on your face, as I somehow miss your toes while I navigate through a store.
I drive an electric, three-wheel, scooter and now I’m nominated for the “Most Likely to Commit Vehicular Bodily Injury Award” in the minds of most biped pedestrians. Even physical contact I actually want to make is perceived as accidental when I’m driving my scooter. When I go for the slightest touch, it’s not unusual to hear an “Oh, Sorry,” spouted on reflex. (More on “The Sorry Syndrome” next week) People are genuinely surprised that I am actually good at driving, that I made that turn, that I saw them behind me, and that I didn’t just plow right into them full bore.
But maybe those people have a point; maybe it makes more sense for me to be a maniac bent on vehicular homicide. There are certainly disabled people of all types who don’t deserve to be on the road, people like the 83-year-old woman who ran over this boy.
His mother is calling for regulations. While her suggestion that the scooter’s power be cut as soon as we get too close to something, suggests we’re all just a giant pile of uncontrollable impulses with zero discretion and judgment, I’m fully behind her call for competency licensing and moderate speed on sidewalks. But people, let’s not forget that common sense goes a long way on both the disabled and able-bodied side of the safe scooters equation.
I have a confession to make. Sometimes, when I’m out on the street, I don’t see people, I see pylons, and during every “driving test,” I’m bound to hit a few. Not literally, but I wouldn’t have this feeling, and I wouldn’t have to keep it in check for your safety, if I didn’t have to deal with so much pedestrian apathy and people were actually aware of their surroundings. I shouldn’t have to compensate for reckless stupidity, but I do all the time. Then again, the scooter is electric, so you can’t hear me when I’m coming. Plus, the horn doesn’t sound like a horn, it sounds like I’m flatlining on an operating table. Like I said, two sides; but maybe if both the able-bodied and disabled populations worked a little harder for each other, we could both share the sidewalk without fear or frustration.
Aaron is a freelance journalist living in Toronto. His work has appeared in Financial Post Business, Investment Executive Newspaper, and TV Week Magazine, along with Askmen.com. He is a regular contributor to Abilities Magazine and is currently plotting a weekly web comic called GIMP, with artist Jon Duguay, about a handicap school bus driver who wakes up after a crash to find he’s the last able-bodied person on earth — and he’s being hunted.