The Danger of Non-ADA-Compliant and Broken Sidewalks
Sidewalk cracks are often an accepted reality of city living, however, non-ADA-compliant and broken sidewalks often result in injury for pedestrians, unnavigable sidewalks for people with mobility devices, and lawsuits against the city.
It’s not unusual to find missing pavement, crumbling curbs, and weeds sprouting between cracks. However, for people who use wheelchairs, broken sidewalks can be impossible to navigate, forcing them to stay at home or use the road to get around. So a simple crack in a sidewalk is not so simple and potentially dangerous.
The Americans with Disability Act
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) obligates public areas to be accessible for individuals with impairments. This includes sidewalks. In 2002, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ADA does apply to sidewalks, meaning that municipalities are obligated under the law to ensure that sidewalks are passable for everyone, especially individuals with impairments.
The Cost of Accessible Sidewalks
In an ideal world, sidewalk conditions would be repaired with the same care and consistency as roads. While some cities and communities fear the cost of fixing sidewalks, regular maintenance of sidewalks and roads can increase the value of neighborhoods. Sidewalks are also much less expensive to repair than roads.
Historically, sidewalks were often built and maintained by business and property owners. And it was a common practice for people to walk in the streets. As cars gained popularity, sidewalks became necessary for safety. Cities have taken over the maintenance of both roads and sidewalks, but roads are often prioritized.
Another sidewalk cost is the lawsuits that occur when people are injured due to a broken sidewalk or unable to navigate due to the non-ADA-compliant sidewalk.
Many cities, including Atlanta, Portland, and New York City, have faced lawsuits for these reasons. And each lawsuit has been a costly experience while also prompting a storm of complaints about sidewalks to be fixed and maintained.
Cities have the choice of dealing with the upfront cost of working on their sidewalks or being met with the consequences of paying the costly damages in lawsuits for injury or ADA violations. More and more, judges are not allowing “budget reasons” to be an excuse for why sidewalks are not properly maintained. The ADA requires sidewalks to be cared for as an essential and normal function of government responsibilities.
How To Make Accessible Sidewalks
Local governments must take the time to assess the state of their sidewalks based on ADA requirements. This self-assessment should take stock of broken sidewalks that need to be repaired, areas with high traffic, possible sidewalk obstructions, curb cuts and ramps, and pedestrian signals and signs.
Once the problems have been identified, the government entity should develop a plan to map out how they will solve and address the problem areas. This includes a timeline and a budget. With a systematic plan created, every community will be able to take part in creating a more accessible world.
ADA Compliant Curb Cuts and Detectable Warning Tiles
A crucial component to making sidewalks truly ADA compliant are curb cuts and detectable warning tiles. These sidewalk essentials protect pedestrians and individuals with mobility devices from falling on the differing levels between sidewalks and streets. The detectable warning dome tiles also function as a warning of an upcoming change in the walking path, whether it signifies a mass transit loading point or a crosswalk.
At StrongGo, we commit to engineering TekWay ADA Dome Tiles, the most durable and reliable, detectable warning dome tiles for your sidewalks and mass transit projects. Interested in discovering the best options for your community’s sidewalks? Email one of our industry experts today at firstname.lastname@example.org!