Rolling Without Limits

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Accessible Design is Found Beyond Buildings
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Accessible Design is Found Beyond Buildings

In the minds of most designers, the term “accessible design,” calls-up images of well-designed interior spaces, often an area in which someone that uses a wheelchair can function with relative ease. However, for certain residents of Los Angeles, California that same term manages to highlight the inaccessible nature of many of L.A.’s sidewalks. In fact, there are 4,600 miles of sidewalk in the city that need to be tackled by city planners.

Furthermore, there remain a number of corners that lack a sloping path for venturing into the street via mobility devide. Indeed, it seems that the city’s designers struggle to put-in-place any new, wheelchair-friendly corners. For more than two weeks, one corner in west L.A. has stood ready for the installation of a sloped pathway to the street. The dirt has been graded, and the adjoining sidewalks have all been laid. Still, the project remains incomplete.

This delayed response from the city reflects the trend that sidewalk-installation, even for those with disabilities, does not seem to be categorized as a high-priority issue. Too little thought has been given to those who see buckled cement or a standard curb as a sort of mini-mountain. Fortunately, the Los Angeles Times has put-forward a possible solution.

The newspaper’s editor has suggested two ways for dealing with the need to fund repairs to any walkway’s tree-related damage. One approach entails making a consistent effort to provide funding for repair work, year after year. The other, introduces a plan for the issuing of bonds, or the creation of some other funding source.

Once such steps have been taken, it then becomes necessary to deal with the poor planning that caused the problem in the first place. That same poor planning has resulted in the planting of trees that are known to have a sidewalk-destroying growth pattern. The approach suggested by the Times is one that should be studied by any cities dealing with similar problems. Safe travels.


*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.





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