Today, I took a walk to my local CVS, four blocks away from my house. The weather was warm and I was looking forward to finally getting out of the house.
I never made it to CVS. The sidewalks were narrowed, with walls of snow creating a thin path that was only accessible to people on two feet, with no mobility aids. The melting snow and ice created slush that ensnared my walker wheels. Most appalling of all, three to four foot walls of snow blocked curb cuts and in some cases, the middle of the sidewalk.
Frustrated, I was forced to turn around and head back home, shoving my walker through piles of slush as I went.
With all the snow we’ve been getting in the Northeast, no one knows where to put the snow anymore. So people are shoveling and snowplows are dumping the snow….onto the curb cuts. In some ways, this is even more difficult than fresh snow. Fresh snow is easier to push through, and hasn’t turned to ice yet. The slushy combination of snow and ice is a death trap for anyone – but especially people with disabilities.
It’s not just people with mobility disabilities, either. Many of my Blind friends use their canes to find landmarks in the walkways – where the curb is. With all this snow and slush, those landmarks are buried.
So please. When you’re clearing your sidewalks, keep us in mind. Remember that everyone can use curb cuts and ramps – but not everyone can use curbs, or steps. Be mindful of your disabled neighbors and make it easier for everyone to navigate. Until then, I’ll be hibernating until spring.
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