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Curb ramps useless when blocked by illegally parked cars

May 6, 2008 Accessibility, Downtown 18 Comments

Sunday was such a nice day I decided in the afternoon to make my way the 9-10 blocks from my house to City Grocers at 10th & Olive.  Knowing of at least one curb ramp issue ay 16th & Locust I took the power wheelchair Eastbound on Washington Ave.  Everything was fine and dandy until I turned on 10th Southbound:

A block South of Washington at St Charles St I encountered this white Pontiac in my path.  To an able-bodied person they’d just walk around but when you are in a wheelchair your options are more limited.

I thought about ramming the side of the vehicle with the chair but then I realized that would probably do more damage to me than the car.  My cane on the other hand could have done a number on the car without hurting me.  But I thought if the owner came out I would be a sitting target.   Plus I am not really the type that would damage another’s property — even if they are insensitive and need a good lesson in where not to park.

The sensible thing would have been to call the police.  But it was a nice day and I didn’t want to get all worked up.  I also presumed the dispatcher would have been less than enthusiastic about the problem.  I let it go and back tracked to Washington where I then crossed to the other side of 10th.

The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful, I got a large canvas bag full of food.  Leaving the store I looked up 10th and saw the car was still parked there.  So I headed Westbound along the sidewalk on the South side of Olive.  To my surprise at 11th there was no curb ramp at all.  Oh the other three corners all had ramps but they were of no use to me.   So again I doubled back from 11th to 10th and took 10th to Locust.  Locust was fine until I got to 13th St (by the Shell building) where my options to continue Westbound basically ran out.  I was able to take 13th up to Washington where I was able to continue the remaining blocks to home.

In all of this the basic message is that without curb ramps on all the corners, or a car blocking a ramp, it becomes increasingly harder to navigate through the city.  In the end it was doable –  just required a bit of backtracking on my part.  Added to my memory now are those routes where lack of ramps make getting from A to B a challenge.


Currently there are "18 comments" on this Article:

  1. Nick Kasoff says:

    You should have posted a photo which showed the license plate. More shame for the violated, ya know?

  2. Dennis says:

    I hadn’t thought about it until now, but when people pull in their driveways and leave their car blocking the sidewalk, its really the same thing as this. A pedestrian on foot can just walk around but someone in a wheelchair is screwed. Well that does it! The next time I see that little red car in the 4900 block of Bancroft blocking the sidewalk I’m calling the cops!

  3. john says:

    In many residential neighborhoods around the region, people often parked their cars, particularly large SUVs, in driveways which block the sidewalk path. It is against municipal code but imagine trying to explain to an officer driving in an air-conditioned car that this is a law violation…they don’t want to hear it and will not do anything to stop it.
    – –
    In Germany, pedestrians now walk in groups and cars that are parked illegally are walked on by the group…message delivered. The car culture has created attitudes and lifestyles that make the golden rule seem extreme.

  4. Curtis says:

    I like that idea John, maybe the Germans have got something there. Just in my 4 blocks back and forth to the bus stop there is at least one house that routinely has a car parked on the sidewalk (sticking out from the garage to the street). And let’s not talk about the dog owners who let their dogs use the sidewalk and don’t feel it’s necessary to pick up, that just gross.

    By the way Steve, in walking to work at Purina, I’ve often wondered how someone in a wheel chair is supposed to get from the street to the building. The only available sidewalk with ramps is too narrow and the other options have a gate closed on the sidewalk. Even for me when it snows, they clear the sidewalk only to the parking lot entrance and then the road snow gets left on the rest of the sidewalk forcing me to walk in the street out to get back out to Chouteau.

  5. Margie says:

    The next time anyone reading this sees someone exiting their car after parking like this (and we’ve all seen it), I implore you to “be the change” and productively engage. Here’s a line I suggest:
    “Excuse me, but my friend who uses a wheelchair lives on this block, and he won’t be able to pass here when he comes downstairs in a moment. Could you please move your car? I’m sure you didn’t realize you were blocking the way.”
    This allows the ignoramus to save a bit of face and get back in the car.
    Alternately, if the car is already there and the violator is gone, and you are lucky enough to see a cop nearby, tell them the same thing. It helps to know the code violation number when you mention it (Steve, if you can add it as a footnote here, that would be great).
    When I lived in 10th Street Lofts, the same car used to block the curb cut at the north side of 10th and St. Charles all the time. I finally called the non-emergency number and mentioned it and they did ticket it and it stopped. So don’t discount the role of a citizen activist. Who knows how many Steves came along in chairs and turned back before I finally made the call.

  6. publiceye says:

    17.24.070 D

  7. Nick Kasoff says:

    I don’t know about walking on the car … but I can tell you from a college experience, it doesn’t take that many people to pick a car up and move it. Like, say, sideways in the driveway so they have a heck of a time getting out. Or onto their lawn, if they have one. Whatever.

  8. LisaS says:

    17.24.070 D is the Prohibited Parking section of the City code (http://tinyurl.com/46afdw) … but who’s enforcing it?
    I just carry a Post-it pad and write polite, to the point notes to offenders, making sure to use the word “Please”. If nothing else, I get the satisfaction of sharing my frustration with them.

  9. Parisians key cars which are parked slightly on the sidewalk. I have no problem with this policy, especially if the person is disabled.

  10. publiceye says:

    “but who’s enforcing it?”

    Police officers, traffic enforcement agents of the Treasurer’s office. Judging from my neighbors’ complaints, they are pretty thorough.

  11. publiceye says:

    “I have no problem with this policy, especially if the person is disabled.”

    Why would you key a disabled person’s car?

  12. Andrew says:

    While 17.24.070 D is a good one, the car in photo also violated 17.24.070 N and 17.24.070 W.

  13. barbara_on_19th says:

    And, the city is significantly raising parking violation fees, doubling if I recall. Speaking as a certified parking scofflaw who always is forgetting to feed the meter, the big bump was an incentive to make me buy a change purse and start carrying change.

  14. Jim Zavist says:

    My “favorite” offenders are MoDOT, Gateway Constructors and other highway-related operations who (many times) plant their big orange changeable message signs squarely in the middle of sidewalks in urban areas, so they won’t have to shut down a traffic lane. And in the world of unintended consequences, on Murdoch in Shrewsbury, many of the residents are now parking on the sidewalk due to the increased traffic going to the Metrolink station (and not wanting to lose their missors). Yes, enforcement is both the the “solution” and an ongoing problem, but it’s also a personal question of consideration and attitude. When “it’s all about me”, I’ll park wherever I want. But when I’m part of a larger community, I’ll think about not blocking crosswalks and keeping my sidewalks clean and in good repair. This idiot was obviously too self-centered to want to walk an extra block or two (that parking legally might have required). My passive-aggressive solution is to simply and aggressively readjust his/her outside mirrors – no long-term damage, but it forces them to at least do something to compensate for their stupidity/lack of consideration for others . . .

  15. Brad Mello says:

    Steve — you definitely should call the non-emergency number and get the car ticketed. I do that in Arlington all the time and it works. The cops get to fill their quota for the month and the cars who continually make life difficult for others have to pay the price. There were several cars that continually blocked ramps in my neighborhood and we have several folks in motorized scooters around here so I just kept on calling every time I saw the ramp blocked — it took about a month, and I’m sure Arlington County made a pretty penny in parking fines, but it finally did stop. Glad your getting out! Brad

    [slp —I’ve programmed the non-emergency number in my phone so I will have it for the next time.]  

  16. Kristen says:

    Hopefully you’re out of your chair by Winter, because while plowing the streets seems to be only a vague priority, clearing the sidewalks NEVER happens, and the plowed snow not only covers ramps but basically makes sidewalks unnavigable to many able bodied pedestrians, let alone persons in wheelchairs. During the most recent icing here in town, the sidewalks in front of the now empty San Luis apartments (where, one would assume, many older and disabled people resided) were among the worst I found.

  17. SIG says:

    I use the same idea with the post-it notes. Except I’m not always polite. Not only does it help to vent on a little yellow square, it’s nice to know that it may even make a difference when the vehicle owner sees it.

    Part of the problem comes back to automobiles. We’ve got too many and not enough downtown parking that’s affordable for all. The guy should have been taking the Metro down there anyway.

  18. rich says:

    cars blocking curb ramps is bad but what if the city you live in has there snow plow drivers
    pushing and pileing snow on them mine does and when I ask the driver not to do that he stated where eles can we put it we are told to push it there to clean the intersections this should be against the law it is if you block it what should I do I called the mayor and the public works
    department and they just blew me off help me find a way to have them hung for this


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