QUESTION: Michele, you said you might cover the full side-to-side radius curb ramp. I’m requesting that you do. At times engineers want to design that style and I personally have problems with it. — Conrad, Utah
ANSWER: Wow, how can I say no? First, you can check out a compilation of regulations from the July 2011 Public Rights of Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) draft, which can also be found at www.access-board.gov. Even though it is not “official,” using PROWAG as guidance for your pedestrian facilities is the best you can do. It’s expected to be approved in the near future.
Next, let’s describe a full blended radius curb ramp. It is a depressed corner (also called a flat landing) that wraps from one side of the corner to the other, and I see it as a true safety problem.
Engineers and public works departments that install this type of curb ramp often tell me that it saves on repairs. Vehicles and large trucks often run over curbs, causing wear and damage that result in greater maintenance upkeep. So they eliminate the raised curb.
But without the raised curb, what prevents vehicles from drifting over the sidewalk when turning corners? This is a real danger to pedestrians. So often people are talking to each other when waiting at an intersection, and not watching traffic. They are only focused on the signal light to see when it is time to cross. A vehicle can approach them and hit them before they are even aware of it.
Below is a graphic that I have created to illustrate the dangers that users face with this curb ramp:
My graphic shows a wheelchair user who is clearly on the sidewalk, and yet dangerously close to a vehicle that’s driving over the ramp. This actually happened to me. I was not at the edge where the street and ramp meet—I was at least 1 to 2 feet behind the ramp edge—and the tires of the vehicle rubbed against my toes. Unfortunately, I was wearing sandals with my toes exposed. The black from the tires rubbed off the tips of my toes.
It could have been worse. I was so lucky that I saw the vehicle and was able to at least back up a little. However, this was a very busy and noisy intersection. It would have been impossible for a person with vision impairments to hear that vehicle coming. Or instead of me, it could have been a child in a stroller! Enough for now. You obviously know my opinion of the full blended radius curb.
I’m wishing you success in all you are doing to improve the world we live in.