letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Hazards for Mobility-Challenged Citizens


I wrote a post on my Neighborhood Nextdoor and have gotten quite a response.  I have attached my initial post and responses in the two days after posting.

City Curb Ramp domes a Hazard for the Mobility Challenged

I am a mobility-challenged senior. I use a scooter, crutches and walker to get around. I have trouble with the yellow dome bump pads they are putting on every corner. I can lose balance, slip on them if wet and can’t roll up them (too much friction). I’m not strong enough on one leg.

Anyone else? I hear they are a life saver for blind individuals with good balance and two strong legs. I think they are a hardship for the rest of us.

As I shared this thought on Nextdoor Neighborhood discussions, I found people were saying that these ramp bumps, as currently designed, are a hazard, often causing slipping and tripping. They are hard to navigate with wheeled vehicles.  WE CAN DO BETTER!

They are a hazard for:  toddlers, seniors, women with heeled shoes, people with small feet, strollers, shopping carts, people in wheelchairs and the mobility challenged.

The bumps make one lose balance, turn ankles, stub toes and fall.  They also interfere with roller carts, i.e., shopping carts, walkers, strollers, etc.  The increased friction of the bumps makes them too hard to push for elders. The bumpiness wakes sleeping babies and causes them anxiety due to extreme shaking.  I read that it is very hard on those with spinal cord injuries as these people need a smooth ride.  Even strong healthy people have fallen.  Are the blind and low vision more stable on their feet than the rest of us? I think not. WE HAVE TO DO BETTER!

Solution #1 – offer an alternative ramp design with a smooth wheel channel without bumps;

Solution #2 – offer a less slippery surface when wet, such as rough cement;

Solution #3 – give another ramp choice for those who want to avoid it entirely.

Diane Neighbor


Next-door responses:

I totally agree!! I am not a senior, but have rheumatoid arthritis and trip on them (my toddler daughter used to too). They are only for the blind and a hazard to everyone else.

Interesting. I talked to someone in the city ADA dept and they said the ramps follow ADA guidelines and are now law. I asked her if they did any research with differing abilities and she assured me they had.

Totally agree. I am a physical therapist and I have slid on those bumps on my bike and when I had to use crutches. Someone must have a City contract because they are more dangerous, not a safer option, for ramps.

The plastic yellow domes are useless and break! There are precast concrete ones that aren’t as slippery. I hate them. I don’t understand why the grooves weren’t considered sufficient.

I don’t have mobility issues but I avoid them because I have slipped on them several times. They are terrible!

I am hoping there can be a redesign to give an alternative “safe” route for the non-blind. Currently, I look for driveways and or walk/scoot in traffic. However, some shopping districts have it designed so you can’t find an alternate route to push a shopping cart. You just have to wait for a good Samaritan to help you. Life is already hard if you have mobility issues – seems like a cruel joke.

100% agree with Diane. We call them “evil Legos.” Very slippery when wet; a friend broke her hip! Nearly impossible with a walker.

Yes, a few friends have fallen and broken in their arms on these stupid things. I hear the city is going to remove all of them and replace them with the same thing but with traction. Lots of lawsuits against the city. They are quite irritating to me, but I know very dangerous for lots of other people Take care!!!

Wow. I thought I was the only one who found them hazardous, but I figured that was because I am a bit clumsy at times and I don’t have the best balance. This whole thread needs to go to Gordon Mar as well as Senior & Disability Action. They are a senior advocacy agency that may help us out at City Hall. If anyone wants to call SDA, their number is (415) 546-1333. Ask to speak with Pi in the Pedestrian Safety unit. I will let them know as well, but the more of us that do, the stronger our argument to finding an alternative.

I talked to Pi Ra at Senior & Disability Action. He told me he has been gradually hearing more and more complaints about the bumps. SDA can’t really do anything about it directly, but they will be happy to sign on to anything we come up with.

,Appealing to Gordon Mar & SFC&C level is misdirected. This is a federally mandated law, already litigated in federal courts re: blind efficacy vs. constraints on other citizen. Blind won, appealing the precedent setting judgement would take massive countersuits or litigious actions from all non-served by the truncated domes. This outcome regardless of otherwise-handicapped input presenting evidence against.

I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that the domes be removed completely. From what I read, it sounds like most would be content with a redesign. THAT could be accomplished without massive litigation. Too many people are getting hurt (this page represents a tiny, tiny fraction of a percent of everyone injured) and the government is going to have to agree to some kind of changes. Reasonable accommodation means just that: REASONABLE!

Thanks for bringing this up! They are uncomfortable to walk on even with a good pair of sneakers. I can imagine how difficult they must be to negotiate with a mobility device, even with good arm strength it sounds like they don’t offer enough traction.

They always wake up my kids on the stroller, haha, I’m not sure how could they redesign them to be still effects for blind folks without being dangerous for others 😦

Totally agree! They are a hazard!

Yes I agree. Only thing to do is to have a disability advocacy group appeal that decision to sign into law. And they wake up my babies too. Lol.

My mother always had difficulty maneuvering over them with her walker. Definitely a potential tripping hazard.

I have slipped as well, with two (relatively) strong enough legs. I fell and my knee was badly injured with pant leg torn open.

I totally agree. I think they are only good for blind people and they are on every corner now. Plus grocery stores where your eggs could break, too.

COSTCO…already too steep from doors to parking lot at SFO South City location. Then, on the slope, you bounce over these things and packages of stuff go everywhere!

If we are falling, blind people are probably falling too. I think ADA is going to have to re-think this.



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