In a Phoenix neighborhood, there were multiple vehicles blocking the sidewalk preventing pedestrians from using it. (Photo by Sierra Alvarez, Cronkite News)
Why it’s illegal to even partially block a sidewalk with parked car
It became a crime in Arizona for a vehicle to even partially block a sidewalk and prevent someone who uses a wheelchair, sight cane or stroller from passing. In May 2020 the bill was passed making this form of transportation safer for several community members.
It was already illegal in Arizona for someone to park their vehicle on the sidewalk, but HB 2395 emphasized that to even partially block a sidewalk could result in a $250 fine.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law. Democratic Rep. Jennifer Longdon of Phoenix, who uses a wheelchair, sponsored the bill.
“The thing that this bill has done is bring awareness about something people don’t even think about,” Longdon said. “People might just not think about how parking a truck or their hitch on the sidewalk can harm others who move differently than they do.”
This bill is meant to bring awareness for members in the community who use sidewalks to get around and may not have another means of transportation, she said.
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“It should serve for most folks like that piece of education to let them know that you need to keep the space clear because other folks might not be able to sidestep into the grass to move around your trailer tongue or your truck hitch,” Longdon said.
A close friend of Longdon uses a sight cane and one time tried to navigate their way off the sidewalk that was partially blocked, but they ended up tangled in someone’s cactus garden, she said.
“Our neighbors don’t always look exactly like we do and they don’t all move exactly as we do,” she said. “We really need to look at sidewalks and know that they were created for a reason, and we really need to keep them safe and passable for all our neighbors.”
Peter Quinn, executive director at Arizona Chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America, has used a wheelchair for 32 years. He said this bill is a helpful tool when it comes to educating the public about sidewalk safety and why it’s important not to block a sidewalk, he said.
Going around steep sidewalks to get around vehicles can cause people to fall over and get hurt, Quinn said.
“Sometimes I’m rolling down the street and all of a sudden I have to turn around and go back or find a driveway that has a reasonable slope to it,” he said.
Quinn has had to go down the street several blocks in order to find a place he can safely get his wheelchair back onto the sidewalk, he said.
“It makes it really tough,” he said. “You add that to the hot weather when you’re pushing a chair and having to go back a full block to get around a vehicle it really makes it tough.”
Quinn doesn’t necessarily want his neighbors to get fined, but he does want them to understand why it’s important to consider others like veterans who use wheelchairs when parking their vehicle, he said.
Alicia Fontaine has fibromyalgia, and at times has had to use a wheelchair. She said a bill like this is a step in the right direction.
“I don’t see a lot of positive change in this way very often or very easily, it always seems like a huge uproar has to happen to get small changes like this pushed by,” Fontaine said.
This bill isn’t just important to people who use wheelchairs, she said. It’s also important to those who don’t have access to a vehicle or young children who use the sidewalk to get around.
“People just generally don’t think too far outside of themselves or how it directly affects them,” Fontaine said. “A bill like this really forces them to think about the community as a whole.”
A fine may get people to take parking their vehicle more seriously, she said.