By Miriam Raftery
February 12, 2019 (San Diego) – Four disabled activists from San Diego and Spring Valley have filed a lawsuit in federal court locally, Montoya et al v. Bird Rides Inc. et. al, against the city of San Diego as well as Bird, Lime, and Razor scooter companies. The suit alleges that the City and private scooter companies are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act, and state anti-discrimination laws by allowing electric rental scooters to block public sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks and transit stops.
“Private scooter companies have been allowed to appropriate the public commons for their own profit, regardless of the impact on the City’s residents,” the suit states. “Persons with mobility impairments, including people who use wheelchairs or walkers, and people with significant visual impairments are thereby being denied their right to travel freely and safely on our public walkways.”
Named plaintiffs include Alex Montoya, a triple amputeewho lives in San Diego’s East Village and walks with prosthetics, Rex Shirley, a Parkinson’s patient in Mission Beach who relies on a mobility scooter, Philip Pressel, a downtown resident with one leg, and Aaron Gresson, a blind Spring Valley resident.
The plaintiffs allege that they have frequently had to dodge rental scooters left on the ground and in some cases, have nearly been hit by them. Plaintiffs allege that this has forced them to alter their actions, with some going out less frequently or only when accompanied by someone else.
The suit seeks monetary damages as well as an order enjoining the Scooter Defendants from continuing to operate on the system of sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps, transit stops, pedestrian crossings and other walkways in the City of San Diego.
If successful, the suit could establish a precedent for disabled individuals to seek legal redress from other jurisdictions where rental scooters block public access for those with disabilities.