March 26, 2003, Wednesday
The Associated Press State & Local Wire
The state Court of Appeals says a motorized tricycle used by a disabled summer resident of Mackinac Island doesn't alter the character of the island, which generally doesn't allow motorized vehicles.
The appeals court, in an opinion released Wednesday, upheld a lower court ruling that said Donald Bertrand may use the motorized tricycle to navigate the city's streets. Bertrand has multiple sclerosis.
Mackinac Island officials have argued that Bertrand's use of an electric-assisted tricycle could open the floodgates to motorized vehicles and destroy the island's renowned 19th-century charm.
Mackinac Island has permitted the use of electric wheelchairs and three-wheeled scooters since 1995, when the city altered its vehicle ordinance. City officials contended that Bertrand and other disabled people are welcome to use those forms of transportation.
But Bertrand, who has owned a home on the island for a few years, didn't want to be confined to a wheelchair or scooter. He peddles his bike when possible and uses the electric motor - which tops out at 10 miles per hour - when he's fatigued. The exercise helps in his battle against MS, he said.
In its ruling, the appeals court acknowledged that the absence of motor vehicles on the island is important to its reputation as a tourist attraction.
"Indeed, a change to allow the general widespread use of motor vehicles on Mackinac Island could sensibly be viewed as horrific," the ruling said.
But, the court said the electric-assist tricycle in question is not
motor vehicle as it is commonly understood and not that unlike the
three-wheeled scooters that are allowed.
© Copyright 2003, The Associated Press State & Local Wire