Skip to comments.Police Say Elderly Man Can't Drive Mower on Sidewalks
Posted on 08/21/2006 2:35:36 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
CEDARBURG, WI (AP) -- Eighty-five-year-old Benjamin Steinbach said he'll stick to using his riding lawn mower on his grass and not take it on sidewalks to run errands around town. But a miffed Steinbach said Monday he still doesn't understand why the practice is prohibited.
Steinbach has been getting around on the mower since the state took away his driver's license two years ago, citing health reasons. He's been driving the mower at least a few times a week a half mile to a nearby supermarket and hardware store. He has even gone nearly a mile to pay a bill at City Hall, in this quaint suburban town.
Cedarburg Police Chief Tom Frank said he had never seen or heard of Steinbach's mower-driving until a reporter recently asked him about it. He said state law allows only a few vehicles on sidewalks, such as motorized wheelchairs, scooters and the new Segways.
Steinbach said that he did not believe riding the mower on the sidewalk caused any problems.
"I think that's ridiculous," he said of the prohibition of the practice. "But I'll have to live with that."
Steinbach said he walks a lot and expected to do more now that he knew that riding the mower on the sidewalk was prohibited.
But Frank said Monday that a local service club had contacted his department about the possibility of providing Steinbach with a wheelchair, and an officer would meet with Steinbach and inform him of that.
Sharon Gilman, director of the Ozaukee County Aging Services Department, said that Steinbach could use a county taxi service or a van provided through the Cedarburg senior citizen center. He had not been referred to her yet, but she said she would be happy to help him look for alternatives.
If he was looking for someone to socialize with, she said, he would also be referred to the senior citizen center.
Steinbach's use of the lawn mower to get around conjures memories of Alvin Straight, an Iowa man who had lost his driver's license before his brother had a stroke in 1994. Straight, then 73, drove a mower 240 miles to visit his brother in Blue River, Wis., which was later chronicled in the movie "The Straight Story."
Midwest Humor Ping List worthy?
Get him a golf cart so he can stow his groceries, it should be legal for him to drive.
I have to admit that it is not that much different than a motorized scooter thing. Free country and all.
They don't let you live!
i'm guessing the problem might be the mower throwing up
rocks, etc. it shouldn't be too hard to arrange alternative
transportation for him so he can run his short errands.
It's wonderful. I remember Alvin Straight. I also remember an old geezer ticked for DUI driving his lawn tractor on the sholder a few years ago. To the local bar, where else.
I think the old guy would be legal with a golf cart. You see folks driving them everywhere. At least he quit driving the car.
I'm sure he doesn't have the mower deck/blades engaged while driving down the sidewalks.
We had an old farmer in the town where I grew up who lost his driver's license for life due to too many DWIs. His response? He took to driving his Minneapolis/Moline tractor to the cafe, the store and the bar.
The inevitable happened, of course, and he rolled the tractor on his way home from the bar one night. He got his legs, hips and one shoulder dinged up, and that was pretty much the end of his self-reliance. After that he had his wife or son and grandkids haul him around and he was no longer a regular at the bar.
He died peacefully in his sleep one night some years back. At least the bottle didn't get him.
Please see post #10.
oh i hope he doesn't have them whirring around.
could the mower still toss up rocks, though?
If the blades aren't engaged then they aren't moving, so no, the mower deck won't pick up or throw rocks or debris.
thanks! i wouldn't know.
our boys push ours. :)
HAPPY ENDING BUMP! Are Wisconsin people nice, or WHAT?
Woman gives scooter to `Mower Man'
By JOHN HARTZELL
Associated Press Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- An anonymous woman donated a motorized scooter Tuesday to an 85-year-old man who lost his driver's license and was recently told he couldn't keep driving his riding lawn mower on sidewalks to get around town.
"Gee, I got to learn to drive all over again," Benjamin Steinbach said by phone Tuesday evening after receiving his scooter.
Steinbach, who lives in Cedarburg about 15 miles north of Milwaukee, had been using the mower for transportation since the state took away his driver's license two years ago for health reasons. He'd been making trips to the supermarket, hardware store and City Hall.
But, after hearing about Steinbach's treks recently, Cedarburg Police Chief Tom Frank noted that state law allows only a few vehicles on sidewalks, such as motorized scooters, wheelchairs and the new Segways. The list does not include riding mowers.
Carol LaFontaine, director of the Cedarburg Senior Center, said the donor contacted the center after reading about Steinbach and offered the scooter, which allows the rider to sit comfortably while on the move.
"It had been purchased for the woman's mother, but the mother barely used it," LaFontaine said. "The donor felt that, if someone could benefit from it, it was better that the scooter be used."
The Grafton-Cedarburg Rotary Club agreed Tuesday to get the scooter to Steinbach, said its president, Chad Curran.
Curran said his club was planning to offer to buy a scooter for Steinbach but was happy to deliver a donated one instead.
"It's a great opportunity to help a longtime member of the community," he said.
Steinbach said it was wonderful to get the scooter but he was worried about mastering how to use it.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which first reported on Steinbach Monday, said others also contacted the newspaper about donating a scooter or donating cash toward the purchase of one.
The police chief said Steinbach could drive the scooter on the sidewalk.
"I'm happy for him," the chief said.
Maybe if he just did a few neighbors a favor and mowed a strip their lawns on his trips, they would have nothing to hassle him about. At least he'd be using the mower for it's intended purpose, even if it happened to be all the way to the store.
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