Category: In The News

San Diego, Balancing City Initiatives and ADA Accessibility

San Diego North Park sign at dusk

The City of San Diego, like many others, is working to improve its transportation infrastructure and reduce its carbon footprint. With initiatives like the City’s Climate Action Plan and Vision Zero project, they are taking these challenge head on. However, some worry that ADA accessibility may take a back seat during these and other projects like the upcoming 30th Street Protected Bikeways Mobility Project in North Park.

According to Christina Chadwick, senior press secretary for the mayor’s office, “The project will, without question, be consistent with all legally-required and applicable laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Safe and accessible infrastructure for all residents, including those with disabilities, is a priority for the City.” Some are rightfully questioning if meeting legal requirements is the best the City can do. Disability rights advocate Kent Rodricks said, “The key for me in this scenario is proximity, proximity. I need to be the closest that I can be to the major points of interest.”  While both sides recognize the need to work together to find a mutually agreeable solution, it falls on the City’s Mobility Board to make recommendations relating to the development and maintenance of ADA accessibility.

Facilitating discussions with stakeholders and working toward compromise is a difficult yet sensible path. When long-term projects are under review, it just makes sense to take the time to analyze the impacts on the entire community and seek public comment. These spaces are for everyone, of every ability, and should be designed as such.

Source:
Disability advocates urge San Diego to consider impact of North Park parking project on accessibility
By ANDREA LOPEZ-VILLAFAÑA AUG. 22, 2019 6:05 PM, The San Diego Union-Tribune
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/san-diego/story/2019-08-22/disability-advocates-urge-san-diego-to-consider-impact-of-north-park-parking-project-on-accessibility

$30M and 17 years for ADA compliant sidewalks in Springfield, MO

Sidewalk without a curb ramp

Ensuring sidewalks and curbs ramps are in compliance with ADA standards is good practice, and not just because it is the law. Gentle slopes, well defined landings and wide smooth pathways are all convenient for the able user, but they are essential elements for people with disabilities.  While much work has been done across the nation, many municipalities are discovering that large portions of their public right-of-ways are not in compliance with ADA.

The City of Springfield, Missouri, is no exception. “Starting in December 2017, the city conducted an eight-month survey of sidewalk and curb condition and compliance that showed just 40 percent of sidewalks were in the goal range of “good” or “very good” condition. The rest were “fair,” “marginal,” “poor” or, in 8 percent of cases, “very poor.”  Nearly 10,300 curb ramps were included in the survey as well with similar results. Now that the City understands is problem areas, it’s planning to fix them. Over the next 17 years, the City of Springfield will invest $30 million to fix its curb ramps and sidewalks.

For many municipalities, fixing public right-of-way barriers seems like an arduous task, but working to identify barriers is a critical first step to understanding where their needs are and integrating them into existing capital improvement projects.

Source:
Springfield has a $30M, 17-year plan to make hundreds of city sidewalks ADA compliant
Katie Kull, Springfield News-Leader August 18, 2019
https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2019/08/19/springfield-spend-millions-plan-make-sidewalks-ada-compliant/2030215001/

E-Scooters and Mopeds Are Barriers In some Cases

E-Sccoters on Sidewalk

Dock-less E-scooters have arrived in most major cities.  Some people see them as a great solution to congested streets and reducing emissions.  Others see them as an eyesore and want them banned or their use restricted. Most of us would simply like to see them used and most parked more responsibly.  An E-scooter left in the middle of a public walkway is a barrier to those with limited mobility and a potential tripping hazard to anyone, especially those with low vision.  

In Washington DC, residents and the city are working together to find a solution to the unintended consequences of the E-scooter revolution.  The city recently announced it will add electric mopeds to its roster of shareable vehicles. According to Deborah Barnes, who is in a wheelchair and has low vision, “A lot of times the sidewalks are narrow and there’s a scooter blocking me which means that I have to go all the way back to the beginning of the block, cross the street at the curb cut, and then come back down on the other side.”  The city is working to resolve the concerns.  “We have provided parking for dock-less scooters and bikes, to include over 400 bike racks and in-street corrals at 20 locations across the District. We’ve added new requirements as necessary, including a “lock-to” requirement last fall, requiring dock-less bikes to be tethered to a bike rack or other street furniture,” said Department of Transportation Director Jeff Marootian.

E-scooters are here to stay.  City managers would do well to assess unintended consequences of new technologies and changes in general modes of transportation.  Perhaps more importantly, those using these services should take a little time to consider where they are leaving these scooters; keeping in mind how it may impact others who also want to get around their city with efficiency too. 

Source:
Ines de La Cuetara, WUSA 9 News 5:27 PM EDT August 12, 2019
https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/washingtonians-with-disabilities-worried-about-dockless-mopeds/65-d5b6f9ca-2df9-477c-b2aa-467d86496998

New York City Settlement requires survey of 162,000 sidewalk curbs

vehicles traveling on road near buildings during daytime in New York City

Photo by Toni Osmundson on Unsplash

Accessible public right-of-ways are good for everyone. Gentle slopes, well defined landings and wide smooth pathways are all convenient for the able user. However, for some, they are more than convenient, they provide a path to independence that would otherwise be unattainable.  

In New York City, municipal administrators are starting important work to identify inaccessible sidewalks and curbs, and integrate them into a remediation plan. This work follows the resolution to two lawsuits. “U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels gave the final approval of a class action settlement resolving two separate lawsuits—the first filed by the United Spinal Association and the second by the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY)—and establishing a plan that will require citywide surveys of all ramps and identify which corners need curb cuts installed or upgraded.”

ADA compliance issues and lawsuits are becoming more common by the day. Municipalities have a choice to be proactive and move toward compliance and inclusiveness, or become the targets of lawsuits and DOJ investigations.

Source:
City to make more sidewalk curbs accessible
Lizeth Beltran, Crain’s New York Business  
July 23, 2019

https://www.crainsnewyork.com/transportation/city-make-more-sidewalk-curbs-accessible

 

Dutchess County, NY, Awards $112,000 of Accessibility Grants

Dutches County Courthouse, brick building with grey moldings and trim

By Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3357429

Funding public works can be challenging, even more so for smaller cities and towns. However, with a little effort and resolve, ways and means are found.  

Today, we feature Dutchess County, New York, and their 2019 Municipal Innovation Grant Program. The program is a great example of helping smaller municipalities cope with the costs of improving accessibility for everyone and ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  County Executive Marc Molinaro said in a recent bulletin, “Dutchess County’s pledge to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ about our friends and neighbors living with disabilities is unparalleled, and these grant awards are the latest fulfillment of that promise.”

We here at BlueDAG hope to see more initiatives like the Dutchess County 2019 Municipal Innovation Grant Program in the future. Don’t you?

Source
Molinaro Announces $112,000 in Accessibility Awards
Dutchess County Bulletin
July 26, 2019
https://bit.ly/31dHPuT

Seguin City Council Unanimously Approves BlueDAG for ADA Support

The City of Seguin, Texas, is the latest municipality to take the challenge of ADA compliance head on with the support of BlueDAG.  “While the City of Seguin changed its policies to ensure new street and sidewalk projects meet ADA code, and made other city projects ADA compliant such as Park West, it has never formally adopted a transition plan”, Seguin City Attorney Andy Quittner said.   BlueDAG provides municipalities with a robust set of tools that help identify and manage ADA barriers, and seamlessly integrate them into a living transition plan. Many local governments are developing their ADA transition plans to ensure their communities are accessible to all and in compliance with Title II requirements.   All of us at BlueDAG look forward to working with another group of dedicated public servants to help create an accessible and inclusive community.  Source: City to create ADA plans for facilities Valerie Bustamante, The Seguin Gazette July 5, 2019 http://seguingazette.com/alert/article_794f923a-9ddc-11e9-acbb-57c322c8e3a5.html

The City of Seguin, Texas, is the latest municipality to take the challenge of ADA compliance head on with the support of BlueDAG.  “While the City of Seguin changed its policies to ensure new street and sidewalk projects meet ADA code, and made other city projects ADA compliant such as Park West, it has never formally adopted a transition plan”, Seguin City Attorney Andy Quittner said. 

BlueDAG provides municipalities with a robust set of tools that help identify and manage ADA barriers, and seamlessly integrate them into a living transition plan. Many local governments are developing their ADA transition plans to ensure their communities are accessible to all and in compliance with Title II requirements. 

All of us at BlueDAG look forward to working with another group of dedicated public servants to help create an accessible and inclusive community.

Source:
City to create ADA plans for facilities
Valerie Bustamante, The Seguin Gazette
July 5, 2019
http://seguingazette.com/alert/article_794f923a-9ddc-11e9-acbb-57c322c8e3a5.html

 

Fueled by Lawsuits, Website Accessibility is a Hot Topic 

Blue scales with computer coding terms

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been law for more than 28 years. For most, ADA compliance brings to mind things like curb ramps or tenji blocks. However in the internet age, companies and government agencies alike must consider the accessibility of digital content, typically provided to the public through websites.  

Website accessibility lawsuits nearly tripled last year across the country. There were 814 cases in 2017. That ballooned 177 percent last year, to 2,258, according to an analysis from the law firm Seyfarth Shaw.

Local governments in particular have a responsibility and a legal mandate to provide accessible options for things like agenda items, policies, and publications.  While web accessibility guidelines are not yet an official requirement of federal ADA regulations, best practices do exist and failure to implement them can result in legal judgments.  Creating accessible and inclusive communities, including digital spaces, is something all civic leaders should strive for.

Source:
Charlotte County to pay $10,500 over ADA lawsuit; make website more accessible
Andrea Praegitzer, Sun Port Charlotte
Jun 22, 2019
https://www.yoursun.com/charlotte/county-to-pay-over-ada-lawsuit-make-its-website-more/article_dba5a7ee-93b4-11e9-865b-a32c1491f053.html

Communities Nation Wide Focus on ADA Accessible Parks

Southbend ADA Accessible Playground

Improving parks and recreation accessibility to all is a hot topic right now. We’ve highlighted the great work done in communities such as the Town of Sudbury, Massachusetts and City of Moscow, Idaho in the past, and now we spotlight South Bend, Indiana. Construction is already underway at Howard Park that will feature playground equipment that is 75% ADA accessible. South Bend Venues, Parks & Arts Executive Director Aaron Perri says, “We don’t think that there’s going to be anything like this playground anywhere nearby.”  The design is inspired by beauty of the St. Joseph River that flows through northern Indiana on its way to Lake Michigan. The design recently won the parks department a $30,000 grant from National Recreation Park Association and Disney. ADA initiatives for parks and recreation programs are rapidly moving to the forefront of public efforts to create accessible spaces for all. Proactive municipal leaders are using this momentum to ensure ADA compliance is integrated into future community enhancement planning.

Source:
New ADA accessible South Bend playground expected to be largest in the area
Michiana WSBT News 22
Jun 13, 2019
https://wsbt.com/news/local/new-ada-accessible-south-bend-playground-expected-to-be-largest-in-the-area

Feds Close Review of Cedar Rapids ADA Compliance Work

Feds wraps review of Cedar Rapids ADA Compliance Work Since 2015, the City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has worked diligently to improve access to its facilities and sidewalks for people with disabilities. The City has invested $18 million in the ambitious effort to do community wide improvements including the installation of 4,000 curb ramps.

Since 2015, the City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has worked diligently to improve access to its facilities and sidewalks for people with disabilities. The City has invested $18 million in the ambitious effort to do community wide improvements including the installation of 4,000 curb ramps. Deputy City Manager Sandi Fowler is proud of the work done and says, “Our citizens are probably living in one of the most compliant cities in the country right now.”  Moving forward Fowler says the city plans to spend an additional $12 million on future projects to build on the great work already accomplished. While it does take a lot of coordinated work and investment, being compliant with the ADA is not just about avoiding penalties. Creating accessible and inclusive communities is something all civic leaders should strive for.

Source:
Cedar Rapids officials report feds ‘close the file’ on their ADA compliance work
ABC 9 News KCRG
Jun 11, 2019
https://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Cedar-Rapids-officials-report-feds-close-the-file-on-their-ADA-compliance-work-511143932.html

Courts Rule Subway Station Accessibility Lawsuit Can Proceed

Public transit is a major resources for senior citizens and those with disabilities to get around without having to rely on care givers or private transportation services. That is one of the key reasons public transit must be made accessible to them. Recently, the New York Supreme Court ruled that a lawsuit against inaccessible subways stations could proceed. The judge presiding over the case ruled that there was substantial evidence that people with disabilities were being discriminated in public spaces. According to the plaintiff, only 25% of the subways system’s 472 stations provide elevator access. This case is just one of many against public transit systems that have failed to remediate access barriers to their buses and mass transit vehicles.

Public transit is a major resources for senior citizens and those with disabilities to get around without having to rely on care givers or private transportation services. That is one of the key reasons public transit must be made accessible to them. Recently, the New York Supreme Court ruled that a lawsuit against inaccessible subways stations could proceed. The judge presiding over the case ruled that there was substantial evidence that people with disabilities were being discriminated in public spaces. According to the plaintiff, only 25% of the subway system’s 472 stations provide elevator access. This case is just one of many against public transit systems that have failed to remediate access barriers to their buses and mass transit vehicles.

Source:
Subway station accessibility lawsuit against MTA can proceed
Vincent Barone, AM New York
June 5, 2019
https://www.amny.com/transit/subway-accessibility-nyc-1.32021995

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