Friday, January 21, 2011
Obstacles in the Community: Sidewalk Ramps
One thing that can be a problem is sidewalk ramps. In the front of most buildings there are sidewalks and curbs, and usually a place that dips down for a stroller, shopping cart, wheelchair etc. Placement of these ramps is key for someone in a wheelchair and it seems that they're not always where you think they should be.
I would assume that they would be right in front of the store, but that's not always the case. Sometimes I find that they are on the side or back of buildings which means that I have to go around first in order to get to the front. In the middle of winter when it's 10°F (-22°C), that's not always the best thing to do.
Down the street from my house is a strip mall with about 10 to 12 stores connected in an L-shape. If I want to go into a store at one end, I have to go to the middle corner to get up onto the sidewalk because there are no ramps at the ends.
It's not just ramps that go to stores either. It's also ones that go from the street to the sidewalk. If they are not placed properly, one has to go out of the way to get to them. For example, also down the street from my house is a mall which I like to travel to every once in a while. Most of the way I can use the sidewalk, but then I come up to an intersection which I have to cross. Because of the heavy traffic I am unable to cross at the light. The only other ramp to get off the sidewalk is to the right of the light about half a block. However, once you get off there is no ramp to get back up on the other side of the street. I have to go up the side of the busy street, go around an exit and then enter into the parking lot of the mall. Very inconvenient and dangerous as well.
The problem with sidewalk ramps are mostly only visible to someone who faces the challenge. As are other accessibility issues throughout the community. If you're in a wheelchair, and you know of other little things that pose problems, leave a comment and share. I'd love to read about it.