Sidewalk access discussed at meeting

By Brenden Walz

Sidewalk access by wheelchair users and others with disabilities was the main topic of discussion at a meeting Wednesday of the DeKalb Handicapped Advisory Committee.

The members of the committee discussed the results of an informal survey of curb ramps at street corners in DeKalb.

Committee members noted ramps were installed on many streets north of West Lincoln Highway. Streets south of West Lincoln Highway, however, lacked ramps.

Among several problems noted by the committee were corners where one ramp would go out into the middle of the street, while the opposite corner had two ramps at each side of the corner.

Committee member Sheila Milan said some senior citizens who use wheelchairs are forced to use the street because no curb ramps have been installed.

“I’ve seen them in the chairs in the street,” Milan said.

Problems also were reported with already existing ramps.

Member Virginia Staver noted ramps with lines placed at straight angles to the curb might make it difficult for visually-impaired people to find them and realize they are at the corner of a street.

Staver said a method of navigating by some visually-impaired people is to trail the path in front of them by lifting their cane just a few inches off the ground and moving it from side to side. The method helps detect obstacles on the sidewalk and guides the person along the sidewalk.

Staver said many sidewalks have no guidelines, such as grass on either side of the sidewalk or lines perpendicular to the walking path indicating separate blocks of cement.

Chairman Nancy McMenamin suggested the committee members meet with city engineer Ralph Tompkins and Director of Building and Community Services Rick Monas in March to discuss concerns before next year’s city budget is set.

The committee is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, March 5, 1992.