We are dying

We are dying, and apparently it’s our own damn fault.

As pointed to by Deborah in the latest Otterday thread, scooter users in Australia are dying.

We are dying because footpaths obstructed by cars and tree prunings and rubbish force us onto the road. We are dying because there are no footpaths. We are dying because motor vehicle drivers mow us down as we cross.

How did the government respond?

Are they going to suggest and implement educational programmes and legal crackdowns on footpath obstruction? Are they going to construct accessible pathways for people with disabilities to use? Are they going to educate drivers on the need to not kill other people who may use or cross roads from time to time?

No. They’re going to tell us it’s our own damn fault. They’re going to tell us we’re dying because we’re unwell, or medicated, or drunk. They’re going to tell us to wear fucking helmets as we go about our everyday lives at four to seven kilometres an hour (most scooters don’t go 10 km/h), just in case we’re mown down by a truck which was just minding its own business before the pesky crip got in the way.

Mobility scooter deaths ‘alarming‘”

Mobility scooter drivers have been warned to be extremely careful when using their vehicles, with the consumer watchdog alarmed at 71 scooter-related deaths in the past nine years.

Consumer Affairs Minister Craig Emerson has taken the step of issuing an official warning about the scooters, with concerns their increasing popularity is putting vulnerable lives at risk. […]

“Obviously some of the people who use them aren’t the fittest people on Earth, that’s the whole reason for their existence,” he said. “I don’t want to see anything severe happen in this space, but I do think we have an obligation to warn people of the dangers of using these scooters, particularly at dusk when they’re not so easily seen.” […]

The warning notice has a number of recommendations for scooter drivers, including ensuring the scooter is highly visible, avoiding very steep hills, taking footpaths or quiet roads when possible and wearing a helmet.

Mr Emerson says it is also very important for people to be aware of any effects that medication may have on their driving ability and to avoid drinking too much alcohol before driving.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, social justice

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11 replies

  1. This absolutely infuriates me. I am in Canada and use a mobility scooter and I see the same sort of issues happening here. Drivers simply don’t care. They have built up this idea that we are the menace and in the meantime they don’t even bother to be aware of us. At least once a week I have a close call and I ride mostly on the sidewalk because I don’t trust cars.
    This is about how disability has been constructed. You will note in the above piece it was all about medications we may be taking…Of course the able bodied person couldn’t possibly be drunk or down right negligent.

  2. They just don’t care. And I honestly have no idea what to say to that.

  3. Just a continuum of the “roads are for cars” attitude that similarly writes off the needless deaths of pedestrians and cyclists as somehow their own fault for venturing where they don’t belong.

  4. Husband and I noticed, as we’ve begun taking short walks more regularly, that the nicer areas in our neighborhood are spotty re: sidewalks. They’re in front of some houses and not others on the same block. In which case, why fucking bother? What use is it at that point, when someone will still be forced onto the road?
    I see people in powerchairs slowly making their way up and down the hilly streets in our city (miniature urban area), usually forced onto the road because it’s rare that there is consistent sidewalk for more than half a mile, if that, on a single road.
    And in the wintertime — I don’t even know what they do — roads are salted before sidewalks, and even then not always reliably (usually, but not always)… so even what sidewalks there are, you can’t count on actually being able to USE them.

  5. People in cars develop a belief that it is their god given right to travel at the speed limit and having to slow down to accomodate other users is anathema. You see the same mentality when people have to slow to allow others to merge, the tantruming, the flashing of headlights the beeping of horns, even though they had a good 300+metres in which to slow to an appropriate speed, is pitiful to behold.

    I think there are excellent arguments for limiting speeds in urban centres to 40 or less.

  6. Where I live, I notice a lot of sidewalks are just…bad. They’re very narrow, full of deep cracks (often with weeds growing through them) and have huge chunks of cement missing. I don’t think anyone in a wheelchair or scooter could use them.
    Also cosigning on the points about driver-entitlement (Yes, I have a spatial impairment and know that I have to be extra-careful crossing streets; but the sign says “Walk” and you’ve parked your SUV smack in the middle of the crosswalk).
    And I agree with Renee’s observation that the article focuses on scooter users being intoxicated, but not drivers. Sounds suspiciously like “Don’t drink too much at parties, girls, or you’ll get raped!” without putting any responsibility on rapists.

  7. some of the people who use them aren’t the fittest people on Earth
    So it’s not just your own fault for being disabled, having crappy footpaths and getting in the way of the Precious Cars. It’s your own fault for being a lazy fattie who won’t just get up and walk (or, hey, drive a car!) like normal people.
    Of course, if you’re able-bodied and out walking or cycling and get hit by a car, that’s your own fault, too. Better just drive everywhere!

  8. “Are they going to educate drivers on the need to not kill other people who may use or cross roads from time to time?”
    Of course not! This is the car culture. If you’re cycling, skating or scootering or walking or using public transport more than two steps from the shops, you are a loser and a deviant. If you even drive slowly you’re suspect.
    My sister in Melbourne recently trained to be a bus driver. She had a classmate who felt this way and who assumed that all the other bus-drivers-to-be would appreciate his opinions. I was relieved to hear that he failed the first time around.

  9. The minister didn’t even consult a single soul who uses a mobility scooter before thinking he had an answer, did he? Because what would the people who actually know about this stuff know, eh?

  10. The minister didn’t even consult a single soul who uses a mobility scooter before thinking he had an answer, did he?

    Well, we’re barely fit to pilot a matchbox car; we obviously shouldn’t be having any input into policy. Plus, all that medication makes us incoherent.

  11. Interesting that they didn’t include powerchair users in this quote – I know there have been powerchair users killed in the past 9 years because we had hideous problems here in Melbourne with people getting stuck on level crossings and at least one death resulted. But if they included the powerchair statistics they’d have to take out the implications of it being the fault of the equipment users or they’d be so balatantly ablist that the major disability organizations would call them on it, I think. The disability orgs generally ignore scooter users too because (I suspect) they aren’t disabled “enough” – those tend to focus on very severe disabilities.
    Talk about catch-22!

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