Friday, November 19, 2010

Chicago wheelchair user fined $120 for crossing street in his wheelchair

From The News-Sun in Chicago:

A north suburban man says he was issued a $120 ticket when he tried to cross a street in his wheelchair in Park City.

Toriano Holmes, 37, who has multiple sclerosis, said he was attempting to cross Belvidere, near Green Bay Road, on Nov. 7 to head to Aldi's and Wendy's when he was ticketed. He had just left a pawn shop on Belvidere.

"There was a lot of traffic," he said, but he waved, and people stopped. He said he called out "thank you" as he made it across the four lanes.

That's when the Park City officer allegedly gave the Waukegan man a ticket. "I guess he was having a bad day," Holmes said. "I'm thinking ... I will appear in court" because of the ticket's cost. "I don't feel this is correct."

But Police Chief Walter Holderbaum said the officer had approached Holmes once and told him to use a side street to get to Aldi's. The officer left, came back a short time later and found him going west in the eastbound lane of traffic, Holderbaum said.

"He was traveling down the roadway. At no point did he cross the street," said the chief. In addition, the officer said Holmes told him he was "staying right where I'm at" and that was why he was given a ticket for obstructing traffic.

"We have had other complaints about a wheelchair in the roadway there," Holderbaum said.

"That's a very busy street. That's very dangerous."

Park City Mayor Steve Parnell agreed. "This is a safety issue for other drivers. He refused to leave the roadway," he said.

Holmes admitted he uses the roadway to travel because there are no sidewalks in that area, just tiny dirt pathways made by people walking. But he also said the police officer was not truthful about him not crossing the street and being warned.