Tuesday afternoon the Seymour police informed me that businesses that have a sidewalk on their property are exempt from DMV or town ordinances prohibiting parking of vehicles on sidewalks.
Readers should note that legal dictionaries define a sidewalk as:
• A walkway consisting of a paved area for pedestrians; usually beside a street or roadway, or
• A hard-surfaced path for pedestrians alongside and a little higher than a road.
The key words are “walkway,” “paved area,” “for pedestrians,” “beside a street or roadway,” and “a little higher than a road.”
Furthermore, the Connecticut DMV Driver’s Manual specifies places where parking is prohibited. These are: intersections, crosswalks, within 25 feet of a stop sign, within 25 feet of a pedestrian safety zone, within 10 feet of a fire hydrant, more than one foot from the curb, and sidewalks.
While riding my electric wheelchair uphill on a Seymour Main Street sidewalk, I noticed an SUV parked on the “hard-surfaced pedestrian path alongside and a little higher than the road.” Unlike other vehicles parked in clearly marked parking spots in the parking lot of Tottenham Dance Studios, the SUV was not parked in a marked parking spot. In other words, the SUV was parked on a de facto sidewalk.
Persons with disabilities know, or learn the hard way, that vehicles parked on sidewalks, especially sidewalks sloped toward the road, create a hazard for wheelchairs.
Riding across a slope is a risk of tipping over. My safe options were to ride higher up the sloped parking lot or ride down the slope to the street, or try to ride between the offending SUV and the adjacent vehicle, which was legally parked in a marked parking spot.
Riding across the steep slope between the SUV and the road is a tip-over risk, and rather than risk scratching the courteous law-abiding driver, I decided to go down the slope to ride on Main Street.
Then I called Seymour Police to report this parking violation, which incidentally I often encounter in this spot and which I report to First Selectman Kurt Miller. To my dismay, a police officer drove by twice without stopping to ticket the vehicle.
So I immediately called police again to ask why. The officer said, “That sidewalk is private property. The owner can park there.” Note that the police acknowledged it was a sidewalk.
I looked in vain at Town of Seymour Ordinances and failed to find anything allowing vehicles to park on privately owned “hard-surfaced paths for pedestrians alongside and a little higher than a road.”
So I am asking fellow Gazette readers to check Seymour’s ordinances. Maybe one of you can find the exemption that happens to be asinine and quite inconsiderate if not selfish to pedestrians and persons with disabilities.