Beyond a focus on Fair Housing law, we all need to be aware of barriers to community mobility as well. During a 2019 access audit of a new subdivision in Boise’s Harris Ranch, planning and design barriers were evident throughout the ‘walk and roll’ event. From the absence of Greenbelt access indicators to steep connecting ramps, missing or misaligned curb cuts, and even surface materials, we encountered multiple opportunities for improved mobility and access.
Take the bridge decking in the photo at left. The openings are the perfect size to trap small front wheels on a manual chair or swallow the tip of a cane. It’s also a surface service dogs might perceive as unsafe. This is a perfect example of the need to include a range of voices in the planning process. Problems can be addressed before injury occurs.
Until you’ve tried to navigate your community without full vision, hearing or mobility, access is often an afterthought. And remember, construction can create life-threatening barriers and hazards, as in this 2018 story about ongoing problems with road construction in and around Boise.
Highway signs in the path of travel can trip a pedestrian or force them into the roadway. This is not a mere incovenience; it can create a life-threatening situation. We all need to increase our access awareness and take an active role in creating barrier-free communities.