By Megan Burks
Earlier this month, a group assembled by the City Heights Community Development Corporation’s Built Environment Team set out to traverse City Heights—all 2.5 miles of it—by foot, wheelchair and stroller.
The goal was to survey sidewalk conditions and pedestrian hazards in
need of attention from regional planners and elected officials.
Sidewalk and crosswalk deficiencies add up to big problems for City Heights residents, who are four times more likely to use transit—and walk or wheel to transit stops—than the rest of the nation. Between 2002 and 2007, the rate of pedestrian crashes in City Heights was twice the rate citywide, according to Health Equity by Design.
Along University Avenue between Boundary and 54th streets, participants noted precarious crossings, sidewalks too narrow for wheelchairs to pass, dangerous holes left by uprooted trees, and missing or too-steep curb cuts (ramps) that pose problems for wheelchair users.
“The idea is to document and experience firsthand how the built environment affects our mobility and our safety,” said organizer Randy Van Vleck, who ran smack into raised concrete with a wheelchair borrowed from the La Maestra Family Clinic.