Accessible Sidewalks Legislation Planned in the New York City in Advance of 25th Anniversary of ADA

 New York, NY -- Senior and disabled New Yorkers would see improvements to hazardous sidewalk conditions if new legislation from Council Member Ben Kallos passes. The bill mandates that if property owners fail to perform needed sidewalk repairs, the city will issue penalties and then step in to provide the fixes and bill the party responsible. There are 889,219 New Yorkers with disabilities and nearly one million residents 65 or older, all of whom must safely get around.
 
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.”
 
“We applaud Councilmember Kallos initiative to ensure that New York City sidewalks and streets are safe for everyone and adhere to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  On this 25th anniversary of the ADA, people with disabilities should look forward to being able to wheel/roll/navigate safely throughout the City as they go to work, visit friends, go to appointments and tour our City without barriers,” said Susan M. Dooha, Executive Director, CIDNY.
 
“The National Multiple Sclerosis Society New York City – Southern New York Chapter supports all legislation, policies and regulations that improve accessibility. Appropriate curb cuts are a significant step towards a New York City that is accessible to everyone,” said Gene Veigl, Director of Advocacy, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, New York City, Southern New York Chapter.
 
“Bad sidewalks and pedestrian ramps can be very isolating for people with disabilities including people who are blind or who have low vision, people who use mobility equipment and people who have difficulty walking. Too many sidewalks and ped ramps remain unrepaired for years. We have to virtually memorize our neighborhoods to travel safely,” said Edith M Prentiss, VP Legislative Affairs, Disabled in Action of Metropolitan NY.
 
“Cities across America recognize that curb cuts and ramps allow disabled citizens to fully participate in society. This is an easy and essential way to assure that all New Yorkers have full access in our city,” said Alan R. Morse, JD, PhDPresident & CEOLighthouse Guild.
 
“BILS commends Council Member Kallos on this very important legislation that helps ensure that all people with disabilities have equal access to sidewalks and passageways.  Timely and needed repairs to sidewalks ensures that we can all take advantage of all New York City has to offer,” said Brett L. Eisenberg, Executive Director of Bronx Independent Living Services.
 
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