Scooter-User Threatened With Fines on Rail Trail
ADAMS, Mass. — A disabled local man who uses a motorized scooter won't be fined for riding on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail.
The state Department of Conservation and Recreation has confirmed that rules that ban the use of motorized vehicles such as snowmobiles or motorcycles don't apply to adaptive equipment such as scooters and wheelchairs.
Residents took to Facebook this weekend after news broke that William Lego was told Friday by a state trooper that he could not be on the trail with his scooter.
"He was on the bike trail and a state trooper stopped him and said he was not allowed to have his scooter on the bike trail," Lego's home health aide Tina Bookman-Smith said. "They told him he could be fined up to $50 and that made him mad."
Lego, speaking with WNYT Channel 13 News on Monday, said the trooper had stopped him and told him he could be fined $30 to $50 if he was caught on the trail again. Lego has been using the three-wheeled motorized scooter for about eight years because he can't walk long distances.
Bookman-Smith said Lego quickly created a petition with hopes of making sure such a stop does not happen again.
She wanted to help him with his efforts, so she reached out to the state DCR to get the official policy and posted on Facebook.
"I wanted to check the story out a little bit myself and we spoke in length and they said they were trying to figure it out," she said. "He said it was hard to determine who could be on the trail with a powered wheelchair and who couldn't because you could have a disabled person who should be allowed on there or you could have an obese person who just doesn't want to walk. ...
"I told them I think it is discrimination. You are discriminating against a handicapped person and telling them that they can go on the bike trail it is not right."
Bookman-Smith said she suggested having individuals use their handicapped parking cards given to them from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
"If they carry that with them while they are on the bike trail they shouldn't be hassled," she said. "They should be able to show their card and be on their way."
Bookman-Smith said she reached out to News Channel 13, which spoke with Lego, but also reached out to DCR, which seemed to have changed its tune with the news program.
"They just told them that wheelchairs were allowed on the trail and that was it," she said. "I thought boy how quickly things changed because we must have had a half-hour conversation about fine lines and what is allowed."
iBerkshires.com also reached out to DCR and was told: "The use of motorized wheelchairs and other powered mobility devices by persons with disabilities is allowed on trails and pathways in and around DCR parks, such as the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail."
DCR did add that the Massachusetts State Police have jurisdiction to enforce and ticket on state park land.
Bookman-Smith said copies of Lego's petition were placed at the Daily Grind on Park Street as well as the Police and Fire departments.
She said he has already gained hundreds of signatures.
"He dropped them off anywhere he could think of," she said. "He has hundreds of signatures … this was a good cause."
Bookman-Smith said the rail trail is an important mode of transportation for many of her clients. She said it is much safer than the road and noted that Lego himself has been hit three times. The downtown sections of the trail runs from Russell Field to Cook Street, and parallel to Route 8.
Bookman-Smith said she hopes Lego's story makes people more of aware of mobility issues handicapped people face.
"I have clients that can't walk at all and why shouldn't they be able to go out on the bike trail?" Bookman-Smith asked. "I am glad that they are saying that they are allowed now because now if he gets stopped by a state trooper again he can say 'go ahead give me a ticket I'll give it to DCR' it is his right."
Tags: Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, DCR, handicapped accessibility,
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