City Hall

Disabled Phoenix Man Wants Sidewalks Along Bethany Home Road Fixed Now, Not in 2015

Thomas Vickery lit a fire under the butts of city officials earlier this year, shaming them into finally moving a fire hydrant that blocked a curb ramp on a sidewalk.

Now he wants the city of Phoenix to move up its schedule to do more improvements along Bethany Home Road that will make it easier for people who, like him, can't walk.

Vickery, a Chicago transplant who has cerebral palsy, takes a scooter nearly everywhere he goes. And he's not one to sit at home every day -- he often rides the scooter from his home near Central and Maryland to Christown Spectrum Mall at 19th Avenue and Bethany Home Road. His "preferred route" is to go up Central to Bethany Home, then take a straight shot to the mall. There are obstacles for his scooter no matter which way he goes, but he's been particularly annoyed with the condition of the sidewalks along Bethany Home.

As the above screen shot from Google Street View shows, a fire hydrant used to sit squarely in the middle of a curb ramp at 3rd Avenue and Bethany Home. The city knew since 2008 that the location of the hydrant was out of compliance with the American Disabilities Act, says an April article in the Arizona Republic, but did nothing to fix it until after Vickery complained.

The hydrant was relocated, but the city told Vickery the other sidewalk improvements -- just some of a long list of intended projects -- likely wouldn't happen until at least 2015.

Vickery says the sidewalks slope so badly toward the street in some places, he's worried his scooter will topple over. Another Street View screen shot we've included here shows one of two concrete water utility boxes that partially block the sidewalk, making it tough for people in wheelchairs and scooters.

"All the issues combined make Bethany Home not an easy road to travel down," he says.

The city could afford to fix all of its ADA non-compliant sidewalk areas, Vickery argues, and doing so "would make the world a better place."

He vows to keep up the pressure on city officials until they do more.

That's how he rolls.


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.