Four years ago, we moved to a new home in a different city and state. We chose our location carefully to take advantage of abundant shopping options, numerous bus lines and close proximity to medical and municipal services. The location of our condo provided me with the greatest freedom to get around that I had known since becoming wheelchair dependent. Here I can travel by power wheelchair via sidewalk and bus to grocery stores, doctor visits and lunches with friends entirely by myself and without needing a car…..EXCEPT ONE THING….
Almost every shopping center is set up only for customers arriving by car!
And as I observed this in my own town, I started noticing this in other cities as well.
There are very few safe, marked pedestrian (and wheelchair) walkways from sidewalks to store entrances almost anywhere!
Pedestrians and wheelchairs must use active car lanes to shop.
I made it my mission to contact property managers, developers and municipal authorities wherever I saw these problems. Unfortunately, my results to date are meager. And my successes have come from two retailers just choosing to “do the right thing” when municipalities are not forcing this issue.
Unfortunately the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is clear about requirements for parking spaces, but not pedestrian walkways. In addition, I was told that although ADA is a Federal law, it is administered by local municipalities, who are unclear about what they can require and enforce.
What to do?
We need to all speak up and ask retailers, developers, the media and our local municipalities to start noticing this gap in access for all non-drivers including those of us with disabilities!
Here are two examples of situations where I worked with store managers and property managers to point out dangerous access points. They agreed with my suggestions and made much needed accommodations These actions reduced injury risks and liability. But further, they created greater customer loyalty and supported their good image! They stand in strong contrast to many of their competitors!
Thank you PNC Bank !
Thank you Publix Supermarkets!