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News from Gale Brewer

On ADA’s 30th anniversary, my report finds few curb cuts are in compliance with ADA standards

This week is the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  My office released a study that finds serious shortcomings regarding pedestrian ramps that are located near accessible subway stations, leaving those stations effectively inaccessible to residents with impaired vision, and those who rely on wheelchairs, walkers and other aids. (We were assisted in the study by The Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York known as CIDNY.)

View the complete pedestrian ramp report here.

Of the 248 ramps surveyed near accessible subway stations, only 14 out of 248 (or 5.65%) were found to be ADA compliant. Of the remaining 234 ramps, 85 had one ADA violation; 83 had two violations; 38 had three; 19 had four; and 3 ramps had five violations. The most common violation was the lack of “detectable warning” that helps prevent visually impaired individuals from wandering into oncoming traffic or unexpectedly encountering the edge of a ramp.

In the report, I urge that the City prioritize the accessibility of ramps around subway stations and other transit hubs, provide greater transparency on ramp status and construction, hold city contractors and third parties accountable for out of compliance work and establish a program of maintenance for all ramps now in compliance.

As we observe the 30th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, let’s measure our progress in meeting our responsibilities when it comes to accessibility. Elevators installed at subway stations are of no use if the pedestrian ramps needed to get to them are not functional, non-compliant with ADA standards or, worse, non-existent. Our investigation shows that the city has failed to meet its obligations to remove physical obstacles that restrict those with disabilities from participating fully in our city’s life. The city’s commitment on paper to make our streets and sidewalks accessible must be matched by actual improvements, and we can begin by making pedestrian ramps around accessible subway stations and hubs the first priority.

Pedestrian ramp that does not meet ADA standards leading to an accessible subway station    Pedestrian ramp that does not meet ADA standards leading to an accessible subway station

(Some of the least accessible pedestrian ramps my office found were at Malcolm X Blvd. and 135th St. in Harlem, pictured here, right next to a handicap-accessible subway station and Harlem Hospital.) 

“CIDNY applauds Borough President Brewer and her staff for their diligence in surveying the City’s curb ramps and monitoring its activity on correcting non-ADA compliant barriers. Their surveys show that the City is well behind in its responsibilities to ensure safe streets and sidewalks for all. While safely crossing NYC streets may be guaranteed by court-order, implementation is key. We hope the City will act quickly to improve, replace and install new curb ramps so that all can safely enjoy access to everything NYC has to offer, without barriers at sidewalk curbs,” said Susan Dooha, executive director of CIDNY.

“Continued oversight of the City of New York and the MTA is critical to ensure that these public entities are complying with the law and addressing accessibility needs that are critical to the lives of people with disabilities.  B.P. Brewer is an essential watchdog on that front and we appreciate this excellent reporting,” said Michelle Caiola, managing director at Disability Rights Advocates.

View the complete pedestrian ramp report here.

Categories: News from Gale Brewer