By RALPH BURKE
When I first read the Aug. 18 article in the OBSERVER headlined, "Guidelines issued for motorized wheelchairs," I perceived it to be a prank, a gentle tug at one's credulity; perhaps the Norse god Loki doing his mischief upon us mere mortals.
However, as related through the Dunkirk police department, here's the issue.
Apparently, there have been complaints about wheelchair operators in the city rushing about with complete abandon. Perhaps doing a poor imitation demo derby as previously held in our County Fair.
However, at the request of the Common Council Public Safety Committee (this is a scary title, reminds one of committees set up by revolutionary councils) the Chief of Police got out the regulations from the New York state Vehicle and Traffic Law and proceeded thus (not the exact wording): Operators are required to need: a. safety helmet; b. front and rear lamps; c. bright or reflective clothing within a half hour before sunset, ditto before sunrise; d. wheels must be outfitted with a warning device; e. operate in the right curb lane, excepting under certain contingencies; f. yield to motor vehicles and pedestrians; g. when more than one wheelie on the ground, drive single file; h. only one person per wheelie; h. no hands off driving, must have one hand on wheelie at all times; i. drivers must be at least 16 years of age, or a parent or other adult can be charged in violation of the Act for allowing younger operators on wheelies; j. speed limits enforced - no going faster than 8 mph and pedestrians have right of way.
There's a bit more, but I'm getting winded just typing this stuff.
I don't know about other states, but if this law is indicative of many state departmental regulations, then now I understand why we're going to hell in a hand basket. Whatever is wrong about wheelchair and motor vehicle operators just using one's God given sense.
No wonder we're spinning our wheels.
Over regulated, overtaxed and just plain overburdened with onerous, inane, asinine laws. If an accident's going to happen, it'll happen.
All your laws in the world won't prevent it.
Oh, they'll give you grounds to punish and to sue and also give legislatures' legs to enact more laws to close any existing loopholes until the next mishap, which will start the cycle all over again.
And down and down we go - like the frog in the pan of cold water on the burner who doesn't jump out, and when the heat is turned on its too late.
Ralph Burke is a Dunkirk resident.