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Report Finds Less than 10% of Broadway Curb Cuts ADA...

Report Finds Less than 10% of Broadway Curb Cuts ADA Compliant [photo: Zach Atanasoff, WFUV]

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"If fewer than 10 percent of our curb cuts are up to code and accessible on our longest, most recognizable commercial street, we have a problem."
 
Last Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer says the anniversary is more than an occasion for celebration. It's also an opportunity to reflect on the condition of New York City's pedestrian walkways. 
 
Beginning in September 2014, Brewer's office collaborated with volunteers to analyze the accessibility of sidewalks for pedestrians with disabilities. The primary accommodations used in sidewalks are known as "curb cuts." Curb cuts are sidewalk cut-out ramps that allow for a smooth descent from the sidewalk to the street. The ideal specifications for a curb cut, as described by the ADA, include: a width no less than three feet, a slope of no more than 8.33%, a flush connection (free from potholes) from ramp to walkway, and detectable warnings along the ramp to warn blind people they are descending onto the street.
 
Ken Stuart is visually impaired. He recalls the dangers of sidewalks without proper curb cuts.
 
"More than once, I've been out into an avenue thinking I was still on the sidewalk, and only when a car whizzed by me did I realize I was actually off the sidewalk," says Stuart.
 
Brewer's report found that only 9.5% of the curb cuts along Manhattan's Broadway Avenue meet the specifications laid out by the ADA. 
 
"If fewer than 10 percent of our curb cuts are up to code and accessible on our longest, most recognizable commercial street, we have a problem," says Brewer.
 
The report surveyed 1,357 locations where curb cuts are mandated by law along Broadway, from Bowling Green to Inwood. Of these locations, only 1,209 locations had usable curb cuts. Further, 28% of cuts were too steep, 24% were crumbling, 18% were blocked by garbage cans, news stands, or scaffolding, 6% were blocked by potholes, and 90% were missing the bumps that warn vision-impaired New Yorkers of a ramp.
 
The de Blasio administration responds, saying, "Our streets are safer and more accessible than ever before, and we're aggressively expanding new avenues of accessibility for New Yorkers with disabilities everywhere from street corners to taxicabs. We are investing as never before to make a more accessible city a reality."
 
The adminstration says the Department of Transportation has installed curb cuts at 97% of the necessary corners across the city, and they're working to bring them up to full ADA compliance.
 
The administration adds that New York City has committed to more than doubling its expenditures on sidewalk repairs over the next four years--from $20 million to $46 million annually.