accessibility

So I find myself in Clive waiting at Holmes Auto for my passenger-side axle to be replaced (yes, a twenty-minute oil change turned into a four hour repair). Of course, I should have expected it when I said "...and would you also check out the clunking noise coming from the passenger front tire?"

Not my favorite way to spend a beautiful Summer day - I'd much rather be working on my front porch! For lunch I declined the offer of a ride from the friendly repair manager and decided instead to venture out and take the one-mile stroll up NW 114th to University.

This post addresses the pedestrian experience on my walk.


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I found myself at the Southridge Mall Target over a lunch break a few days ago. On the way out of the (horribly designed and poorly maintained) parking lot, I witnessed an accessibility failure of monumental proportions. I had to take a picture.

What you see here in the middle of the photo is not a scooter, motorcycle, or other street-legal vehicle. It is a person in a motorized wheelchair forced to use a busy street because there are no sidewalks available. This situation represents a failure of the developers, designers, and local government code officials to adequately plan for pedestrian access to the site.

According to the Assessor's web site, the structures were originally built in 1975, well prior to passage of the Americans with Disability Act. A lot has changed in regards to Americans' understanding of accessibility since 1975, but what hasn't changed is our focus on automobile-oriented development patterns.

The buildings have seen significant and relatively recent remodeling/tenant alterations. In fact, the parking lot was paved in 2001 - a great time for everyone involved to think about pedestrian accessibility. It's never too late to do the right thing...

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My job takes me downtown every so often for a variety of reasons. I don't typically like to park in garages, but sometimes circumstances warrant it.

Inaccessible Curb at Elevator - 7th & Grand Parking GarageInaccessible Curb at Elevator - 7th & Grand Parking GarageIn this picture, the elevator is accessed through a short walkway (note the sign hanging from the ceiling. From a pedestrian perspective, there are two major problems with the design of the pedestrian route from the elevator to the street:

  • The elevator walkway dumps pedestrians out into the automobile drive aisle instead of onto a sidewalk. The photo below shows how in order to exit the parking garage, a pedestrian is directed out into the path automobiles use to enter the garage.
  • There is a six inch drop, with no curb cut anywhere along the path of travel. Since this isn't the only elevator, perhaps it is not a technical violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but it is at a very minimum a poor design solution.

Now, to be fair, the other elevator appeared to have a usable path from the designated accessible parking spaces to the public sidewalk. However, since the actual accessible route isn't marked, it is entirely conceivable that one could assume all elevators are connected to accessible routes. Someone with a mobility impairment could end up having to make a difficult choice between attempting to navigate the treacherous curb/auto obstacle course or trekking all the way back up and around to the accessible route. Since we know how to make an accessible path, why not just do it?

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