Wheelchair Bound Man Petitioning to Improve Madison Heights Sidewalks

Madison Heights, VA - A Madison Heights man says getting to and from the store can be dangerous because there aren't enough sidewalks that are handicap accessible.

Ricky Dunn has spent most of his life battling obesity and diabetes. He's been circulating a petition to add sidewalks and signs, making it safer for wheelchair bound people to get around.

For the moment, however, Dunn says he's more concerned about getting run over in his wheelchair than his health problems.

"My greatest fear is people not paying attention," Dunn said.

For Dunn, it doesn't matter if he's coming or going: the trip to the grocery store always seems uphill.

"To drive down, facing traffic, going through the weeds and trying to get to the store. This is the third wheelchair I've had since 2005," Dunn said.

Dunn says they've been torn up by deteriorating and narrow sidewalks, or because some roads in Madison Heights don't have sidewalks at all.

Bernard Moore says a car has struck him, knocking him off his motorized wheelchair.

Just last Friday, Dunn himself had a close call.

"I'm in the center turn lane and there was an SUV coming down the road just like that truck is," Dunn said. "I'm waving like this. I've got a white t-shirt on."

Dunn's petition to add signs, crosswalks and sidewalks along 29 Business has gotten 120 signatures so far.

With Jerry Walker's signature, the number is now 121.

"It's only common sense to help your fellow man," Walker said.

"What aggravates me is VDOT and the board will pay and put up deer crossing signs but I get nothing," Dunn said.

"Most people want to be independent. They don't want to have to depend on somebody else," Walker said.

There could be even more wheelchairs in the area. A new housing complex for the physically disabled just opened in Madison Heights.

Dunn worries it's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.

"They ought to spend a couple days in my shoes and see what I have to live with," Dunn said.

Amherst County's administrator Monday said there are no specific projects in the works to add sidewalks.

The petition will go to the board of supervisors to see if there are any grants or money available to make the improvements.