Joan Willshire, Executive Director of the Minnesota Council on Disability, shares her experience navigating piles of snow and sand after the streets are cleared—although, not necessarily the curb ramps that lead from the street to the sidewalk:
I am a person with a disability who uses a mobility device to get around the city. Several weekends ago when it was still nice out and it had not snowed in a few days, I decided to go out in my neighborhood in the in the North Loop to go to a few local shops. To my surprise there were still curb cuts not shoveled out and it had been several days since any significant snowfall.
Sidewalks were clear…, but not curb cuts, which meant I couldn’t even get on the cleared sidewalks….Then it dawned on me to just use those empty bike lanes!
So there I went down the bike lane to avoid using the actual street and the curb cuts that we’re not cleared out. I was able to finally find a spot to access a sidewalk and curb cut that was cleared—to some degree anyway.
Willshire’s experience is not unique.
Speaking with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, several people with disabilities recounted the challenges of getting around the city when sidewalks have not been properly cleared, including Gabriel Rodreick, who said inaccessible walks and curb ramps turn his home into “a weird kind of prison for three or four months of the year”:
Not everybody moves around the city the same way [Rodreick explained.] If everybody knew that some people use wheelchairs and they can’t go to work, or go to school or go to their doctors’ appointments because they haven’t shoveled their walks, I think that would be a good lesson.
The Minnesota Council on Disability wants others to take this lesson to heart and make use of our resources to keep sidewalks clear of snow and ice.