Friday, December 15, 2006

And they don't even have snow in Los Angeles

Four days after our first snowfall of the season, I had a dentist appointment. The dental office is about a half mile from my house. I live in an urban area with sidewalks and curb cuts, and I should be able to get many places by myself. However, on that day I was appalled and disgusted by the impossibility of getting from one place to another. Many of the sidewalks, especially in front of businesses, did not have a cleared path wide enough for a wheelchair. And worse than the sidewalks, were the curb cuts, which were mounded high with snow and ice from the village’s snowplowing of the streets. Fortunately, my mom, who had accompanied me, worked to clear a safe path for me. We skipped going to the bookstore like we had planned, because it was just too much effort.

I live in a town that prides itself as being progressive. Yet, when I can't get to places like the dentist office, shopping, and our accessible train station, I will have trouble ever being independent. I need my town to come through for me.

And I know I am not alone. A recently published Los Angeles County Health Survey found that, "among persons with a physical or sensory disability, 1123 (84.7%) reported environmental barriers related to their disability." These barriers were found to interfere with health care, social activities, and quality of life. This survey seemed like it explored highly relevant issues, but I have to say they seem rather obvious to me.


Natalia said...

Your frustrating trip inspired me to make this cartoon. Hope you like it.

Natalia said...

PS: sorry there is no person in the cartoon's wheelchair... but I'm really bad at human proportions so I decided not to risk it.

David said...

Ha! Love the picture, Natalia!

Anonymous said...

Mary said,
Hi David,
Nura had the same problem less than a block from our house on the way to church Sunday morning. She got to the alley and a huge pile of snow stopped her. I tried to kick it out of the way, but it was frozen. One of our neighbors tried to move it. Nothing worked. I went to the rectory and the church and no one could find a shovel. In the meantime, Nura was stuck in the cold.

Eventually, the fire department came by and lifted Nura, chair and all over the snow mound. I sent an e-mail to the church and someone said that they had shoveled the walk on Saturday and that the city had plowed the alley and left the pile on the sidewalk by Sunday. We hear that all the time. Homeowners and businesses blame the city plows. City officials blame the property owners. The person who uses the chair gets stuck in the cold.

Solving this problem of snow in the curb cuts and across sidewalks does not seem like a difficult brain surgery. We can send a man to the moon. Why can't we make our sidewalks accessible to people who use wheelchairs? Mary

Anonymous said...

Here's an ordinance from another city that could work universally

Handicap Parking Spaces
Business property owners and their tenants are reminded of the requirement to plow or shovel snow completely free from handicap parking spaces. If the business property owner and/or business tenants contracts with another person/company to perform snow clearing duties, this snow clearing requirement must be communicated to the person/company performing the snow clearing.
Barrier Free Curb Ramps
Any residential or business property owner must clear snow from all sidewalks and barrier free curb ramp(s). Access from the sidewalk through the barrier free curb ramp must be free of snow. It is requested that all property owners who hire a contract snow plower, provide them with this information.
Time for Completion
In accordance with the Code of the Township of Wyckoff, Section 165-1. Removal of snow by owners or tenants of property. The owner or owners, tenant or tenants of any lands abutting upon the public streets of the Township of Wyckoff shall remove all snow and ice from the abutting sidewalks of such public streets within twelve (12) hours of daylight after the same shall fall or be formed thereon.