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Same laws apply to handicapped scooters as pedestrians

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Question: Could you please write an article explaining the proper procedure for riding a handicap scooter on the road? We have so many in my area that use the wrong side of the road.

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Answer: Minnesota statute 169.01 sb 24 defines a pedestrian as "any person afoot or in a wheelchair." Now subdivision 24a defines a wheelchair to "include any manual or motorized wheelchair, scooter, tricycle, or similar device used by a disabled person as a substitute for walking." So now we see that a person in such a device is considered a pedestrian so let us look at where a pedestrian is required to walk/ride on a roadway.

Without quoting the entire statute I will cover the parts of statute 169.21 that cover the needed information. According to subdivision 5 "Pedestrians when walking or moving in a wheelchair along a roadway shall, when practicable, walk or move on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder giving way to oncoming traffic. Where sidewalks are provided and are accessible and usable it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk or move in a wheelchair along and upon an adjacent roadway."

Translation to simple terms, a pedestrian is required to use a sidewalk if available and if not then to use the left side of the road, traveling against the flow of vehicular traffic.

Now you mentioned in you letter that many of those that are using the wrong side of road say the local police told them to do so. Now if there are some circumstances regarding the road in this area that the local officer(s) feel it is not practical for those in wheelchair devices to use the left side of the road they can direct them to use the other side. If the local officer(s) is doing so out of confusion about the law I am sure a polite notice to him/her will help straighten things out.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws in Minnesota send your questions to Trooper Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, or andrew.schmidt@state.mn.us.

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