Phoenix man works with city for accessible sidewalks

PHOENIX - Valley resident Thomas Vickery was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant. He depends on his scooter to get around his apartment complex near Bethany Home Road.

"The scooter provides me with my independence so I can do my shopping and…getting around…which I couldn't do otherwise," said Vickery.

It's why he's been on top of the city of Phoenix when it comes to making roads more accessible to the disabled. But the city hasn't fixed one of his biggest concerns, curbs along Bethany Home Road that he believes are too steep.

"It was too severe to try to get over this one…and this is where I toppled," said Vickery, recalling the time when he fell over a curb riding his scooter near 11th Avenue and Bethany Home Road in December of last year. He claims he told the city about it a few years ago, but decided to check it out for himself on his way home from a dentist appointment. Two drivers helped him get back on his scooter.

"There's definitely a feeling produced of knowing what did happen and it's like 'OK! I really don't want to try it again,'" Vickery said.

Matthew Heil, who works for the City of Phoenix transportation department, was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant and depends on a wheelchair. He tested out the curb this morning and agrees with Vickery.

"It does seem steeper than we would probably prefer in that area," Heil said.

But he says the city's response time has been slow because after Vickery informed them about this curb, they found even more curb issues on the road from 7th Avenue to 15th Avenue.

So have they fixed any of the curb issues?

"Along this stretch, no," said Heil. "But we have requests dispersed throughout the city, so those repairs are ongoing."

And the city still has to get permission from property owners before any repairs can be made, which means Vickery will have to wait even longer for some curbside service.

"The citizen's voice isn't as important as I thought it would've been," Vickery said.

Vickery says the city told him they should have the repairs fixed by 2015, but the city official I spoke with said he can't guarantee that timetable.

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