Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Update on Sidewalks

A few weeks ago I wrote about sidewalks, in particular the obstacle course nature of sidewalks in Argentina. But as I pointed out then, Argentina is not alone in having mobility challenging pedestrian areas. The question that remains after any reflection on the difficulty with sidewalks is what to do about the problem.

Today I read a very intriguing account of a lawsuit in Los Angeles that might well mean 1.4 billion dollars in repairs to the city of Angels horrific sidewalks. The settlement is in the case of a class action suit on behalf of people who 'rely on wheelchairs, scooters, and other assistive devices to get around.' This summary of the case, its history and the possible future consequences of the suit is quite useful and thought-provoking....a key element in the case is the American legislation: Americans With Disabilities Act, which has no equivalent of in Canada.

I know that many people in this country regret that we lack the American efforts to make the rights of the disabled an idea that has legal weight. There's a worthwhile legislative initiative for any politician looking for a justification for office, or a worthwhile project for a community group looking for a cause. Or maybe it is just something to mull over. Not everyone things that lawsuits or legal instruments is the way to resolve matters of social contract.

So I am back where I started with this addendum. If legal hammers aren't the answer to making sure something as fundamental as a sidewalk is navigable by everybody, what is the answer? Next time you are stumped with something to ask a politician at the door looking for your support, ask her what she is willing to do about something as simple as a sidewalk. Don't let them put you off by saying sidewalks aren't the jurisdiction of the province or the federal government. Basic human rights and equality is everybody's jurisdiction.  

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