Curb Cuts Editorial
By Miriam Hartsburg
When I started campaigning for curb cuts in my city, it wasn’t because I was physically disabled. It wasn’t because I was mentally disabled either, regardless of what unfunny jokes my father chooses to make. My curb cuts crusade began on a Monday morning as I was rushing to work with a coffee in one hand and a case file in the other, which I was desperately trying to memorize before my ungodly early meeting with the partners and their intimidating nine-piece suits, or whatever they are.
As I was skimming over the intense matter of one heroic man and the unjust injury he obtained on a swingset in a children’s playground, my stomach dropped. Not because of the case, and not because of the inherent amorality that led our firm to take the case, no. I’d become immune to that. My stomach dropped because my entire body dropped from the sidewalk to street level unexpectedly and I spilled forward, launching my coffee, breaking my glasses, and landing on the pavement with an embarrassing “UNFuhh.”
All things considered, I was lucky I wasn’t run over by one of the approximately 10,000 cars that had to swerve around me. There had to be a better way to transition from sidewalk to street level, and I wasn’t just referring to my cirque du soleil splatter. The sidewalk needed to put some effort in too.
Looking bedraggled and embarrassed I nonchalantly brought the matter up at my firm for “uh, no reason” and it turns out there is a better way. A better way that is actually required by federal law.
Curb Cuts. Curb cuts are the gentle slopes that bring some sidewalks (in civilized society) down to street level in order to help physically disabled pedestrians enjoy public space. A second component of curb cuts – detectable warnings – are much appreciated by the visually impaired as well as the multi-tasking impaired, such as myself.
With curb cuts in place and a tactile warning system on top, there would have been no way I could have distracted myself to the point of sprawling into traffic. The truncated domes would have given me an underfoot warning as well as an audible one. Arguably more importantly, curb cuts also ensure the safety and inclusion of the mentally and physically impaired.
As an outlined requirement in the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s time we start taking the transition to an accessible pedestrian system seriously. Curb cuts will be a benefit for all, and if we get going on installing them then my firm will have no grounds for suing the city.
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