Tuesday, February 1, 2011

There's the sidewalk!

The stalwart snowplow guys just left. Today they snowplowed the sidewalk down to some cement for the first time in a month or so. Of course it's not wide enough for a wheelchair so I can't get around the yard. The snow is piled over three feet high out there. So the sidewalk looks like a tunnel.

We're in a 48 hour winter storm warning. Last night there was snow and today through tomorrows evening rush we're expecting ice storms and mix on top of it.

I mention all this because it becomes clearer to me the more the snow falls how little awareness people have what havoc a failure to properly clear snow causes for disabled folks. This is especially true in a winter when assuming the snow will melt in a few days is a fallacy. our ground here hasn't been clear since mid December and my mobility has become an expensive proposition requiring more assistance because of failure to shovel out accessible parking for six weeks by some places, failure to clear sidewalks requiring street travel, etc.

I'm seeing articles in the papers about this. A law student in Philadelphia spoke out about not being able to get to class due to poor cleaning of streets and sidewalks including curb cuts. People can't get to the doctors, grocery store and oh there's work. When it costs more to get to work than it pays and that goes on for weeks, I think we all need to revisit our ideas that we support the idea of people with disabilities working and being productive.

Really? Take a look -a hard look - at the width of sidewalks shoveled , the buried curb cuts and accessible parking spots. When we bury those paths of access for weeks on end, we bury a lot more than we may think at first glance .

[image description: a photo from inside a door with crossed wire boxes covering it, showing a narrow path through the snow]


Patricia Shechter said...

I'm in Hartford, CT, and I have used an electric wheelchair for several years. Here in Hartford, we have snow piles of 5 & 6 & 7 feet high, sidewalks that are shoveled so narrowly that my wheelchair cannot fit through the tunnel they create, and, of course, unshoveled curb cuts. For most of the past week, I've gone nowhere.

Yesterday, I had no choice -- I had to go to my mother's condo which is 4 long blocks away from my apartment. I took the local paratransit to get there. Getting to the place to get the van to return to my apartment, I ended up stranded & stuck on snow in the middle of a very busy street: The street hadn't been plowed too well, my wheelchair couldn't get through the snow, &, because of a snowed-over curb cut, I couldn't get to the sidewalk. Luckily, someone stopped & helped me free my wheelchair. A few feet later, someone else stopped to help me get the chair up a driveway apron & onto the sidewalk.

Last night, I shared this with several Facebook Friends, including a local newspaper columnist who has become a friend. The columnist & I are meeting next week when I'll be able to show her sites with these kinds of problems all over the city. She'll be bringing a camera & maybe a video camera person. After the "tour" of non-accessible sidewalks, curb cuts, etc., she plans to write about it in the local paper. I'll let you know what happens!

The biggest irony of all this: I was at my mother's condo to meet witha tech from a company that will remain nameless who was due to put new batteries in a "new" electric wheelchair! The "new" wheelchair had belonged to my late step-father; purchased less than 5 years ago for him, he never used it. When he died, it went into my mother's storage space. It has been sitting there for over a year, & its batteries have died completely from lack of use / charge. My mother died in mid-January, after which I finally found the company from which she had purchased the wheelchair. The chair I've been using is ancient & its battery can no longer hold a charge, so my sister agreed that I should use our step-father's chair, since it's much newer & better. The tech never showed, so I've rescheduled the battery change for Monday.

Ruth said...

Good luck with the wheelchair! Thanks for adding your story here. We read in the papers about wheelchair users being hit by cars and it amazes me how people still don't connect those accidents this time of year to the deplorable travel conditions. People in chairs can't stay cooped up all winter. It's outrageous. Do keep me posted if you get a chance.