New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Accessible Sidewalks

Accessible Sidewalks Rally with Council Member Ben Kallos

Growing up living with two grandparents who had Parkinson's Disease, Ben knows what it is like pushing his grandparents in wheelchairs as a child on streets where corners have no ramp down to the street. New Yorkers in wheel chairs are left with the options of possibly tipping over, using a traffic with cars to find an accessible corner, or in most cases learning the corners to avoid, and taking out of the way but accessible routes to get places. That's why as a Council Member Ben Kallos introduced legislation that would mandate property owners to install and maintain sidewalk ramps or have the city step in and do it. The legislation is specifically focused on the ramps that connect crosswalks to sidewalks, many of which have fallen into a state of disrepair. In a study, the Center for the Independence of the Disabled New York has found that 75% out of 1,000 curbs in lower Manhattan were hazardous for disabled residents.
 
A diffusion of responsibility allows the problem to persist: In 2003, New York City shifted sidewalk liability to property owners in section 7-210 of the NYC administrative code. The Department of the Transportation installs the ramps, but holds building owners responsible for upkeep. Council Member Kallos' proposed legislation to fix the problem has support from Center for Independence for the Disabled, MS Society, NYC Southern New York Chapter, Disabled In Action of Metropolitan NY, Lighthouse Guild, Stanley Isaacs Senior Center, AARP New York, Commission on the Public's Health System, Disability Pride NYC and Bronx Independent Living Services.
 
 “The conditions of our sidewalks must enable all New Yorkers to navigate our city,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I have seen firsthand the dangers and barriers of hazardous sidewalks through my mother, who is a senior in a wheelchair. The city cannot stand by when seniors and disabled New Yorkers cannot travel their own city streets because of unsafe conditions.”