DALLAS—The Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind is urging members of the visually impaired community to voice concerns to city leaders about the number of rental bikes blocking sidewalks and right of ways.
According to the city, 18,000 rental bikes are in the City of Dallas right now. Compare that to New York, which has an estimated 12,000, and Seattle which has an estimated 10,000.
For months, complaints have been flowing into the city’s 311 call center.
Popular complaints center around bikes being dumped in the middle of the right of ways, sidewalks, trails, and trailheads.
Last week, WFAA shared how Eric Burton had to figure that out by falling over one.
Burton lives near downtown Dallas and suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa, which has taken his sight. He can’t drive and must walk with a cane.
The 56-year-old was walking near Live Oak just days before January and took a nasty spill over a rental bike that was left in the middle of the sidewalk.
Burton said his doctor told him that he partially tore his right ACL, and could need surgery.
“It’s a sidewalk, it’s where people walk. I can’t drive, I can’t ride a bike—this sidewalk is my freedom,” he said.
WFAA reached out to the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind after Burton shared his story. The Lighthouse is a resource center for more than 150,000 North Texans who are visually impaired.
Communications Director Blake Lindsay, who is also blind, said that he’s heard similar stories of concern circulating around The Lighthouse.
“We’re telling people who are blind or visually impaired to use their canes to the best of their ability, and their guide dogs too,” Lindsay said.
“We’re very worried that we’re going to trip.”
Lindsay introduced WFAA to Donna Miller, a 67-year-old woman who is blind because she was born prematurely.
Miller said she can sympathize with Burton because her guide dog can’t navigate around bikes that are left in the middle of sidewalks.
“When she tries to take me around it, she can’t get through—I’ve knocked two or three of them over,” Miller said.
“I have a four-foot cane, and I got it caught in the spokes of one of them about a week ago.”
The City of Dallas has yet to pass any sort of regulations regarding rental bikes.
Those regulations were expected to be voted on recently, but council members decided to push back that decision until later this year.
Councilman Phil Kingston told WFAA that he’d like to see some sort of regulations in place by September.
Lindsay said the city should do something sooner rather than later so more people don’t get hurt.
“If we get the word out, then maybe they’ll do something before September—and we think that’s a good idea.”
Miller is on board with that.
“We come to work like everybody else, we pay taxes like everybody else, and we have a right to have clear spaces to walk,” she said.