Bicyclists Appreciate the ADA – Thanks to the Bushes!

Navigating a curb midblock in Pioneer Square.

I’m a bike advocate, temporarily disabled. I usually find myself talking to elected officials or policy makers about complete streets where everyone has access to our roads and sidewalks. But in a moment of weird coincidence, on the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I fell off my bike and fractured my pelvis. (See previous blog post for that story.)

My life was changed in a matter of seconds. I went from biking everywhere to using a walker and now crutches. The bus stop closest to my house remains out of reach, up two steep blocks. I went from car-free to being driven to work.

Now thanks to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush (I never thought I’d thank them for anything), the ADA defines a physical impairment as something that limits a major life activity — walking for instance.
While the ADA has significantly improved walking downtown and on neighborhood streets, a missing curb cut can literally stop a physically or visually impaired person as effectively as a wall. And while my physical impairment is relatively short term, Seattle’s streets remain a maze of streets without curb cuts and crosswalks with fast turning traffic.
My work neighborhood in Pioneer Square (see photo) demonstrates how critically important the ADA is to the livability of our cities and how much work remains to be done to provide universal access for all users of the transportation system, including sidewalks and intersections.
As we cyclists advocate for sharing the roads, with full access, we can learn from the disabled advocates who wrote the ADA legislation 20 years ago.

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One Comment

  1. K
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    I am legally blind and what we refer to as a “High Partial” I have no peripheral vision and 20\200 vision in my best eye. I love to ride my bike but only on the Spring Water trail. When I have to ride a city street. I use the sidewalk and walk the bike if there are pedestrian around. Both as a biker and visually impaired person. I find the curb cuts to be of great use. the curb cuts in and around most of Portland are now tack tiled which is supper! I agree that the developers of the ADA were well ahead of the game. now we just need to get everyone else up to speed.