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Improperly parked scooters affect people with disabilities

Scooters have been left in the middle of sidewalks, on wheelchair ramps, and in front of doors

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When Molly King leaves her downtown office, she's constantly scanning her path for scooters. 

"It causes a little bit of anxiety, having to worry about if there's going to be enough room for passage. When I come in the morning from the interstate, I look at the sidewalks. I'll sometimes see scooters parked in the middle of the sidewalk or on the bridge or very narrow sidewalks, and I know there's no way I could make that passage," King, who relies on a wheelchair, said.  "I have that fear. What if that happens, and there isn't anyone else around." 

King wants more people to take a moment to think before they park. The City advises parking near bike racks, avoiding ramps, and steering clear of the middle of sidewalks. 

Disability Services at the University of Tennesee posted a series of pictures on Twitter this week showing scooters on campus blocking buildings and sidewalks. 

The latest Tweets from Student Disability Services (@UTKSDS). Official Twitter page of Student Disability Services at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Location: 100 Dunford Hall. Knoxville, TN

"Some of the challenges [cities face] are making vague rules about not parking in walkways when there’s no clear rule where walkways begin or end," explained Dr. Chris Cherry, a professor at the University of Tennessee who specializes in sustainable transportation. "You have to have rules that are intuitive, and that the user wants to follow. Some of the best practices in cities around the country are making parking clearly delineated on the road and making it very clear where parking should be." 

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Cherry said with any new program, education is key. 

The City of Knoxville recently installed "rules of the road" posters on the sidewalks, and when riders sign user agreements with the scooter vendors, they electronically agree to park properly or face a fine. 

Cherry said it doesn't take a lot of effort or time, to park your scooter out of the way when you're finished with your ride.