Our Elementary Schools and ADA Compliance

I’ve begun one of those projects for which the number of case studies might approach infinity. How many sidewalks adjacent to Albuquerque public elementary schools are out of ADA compliance?

The question comes up based on an understanding and an aspiration.

  1. Understanding: Property owners are directly responsible for “maintenance, repair, and liability of the sidewalk in front and on each side of their property,” and that government (City/County/etc.) along with utilities (remember the “phone company”?) is responsible for ADA-compliant placement and upkeep of utility poles/boxes, fire hydrants, and roadway signs.
  2. Aspiration: We want more young people to walk to school.

I realize not everyone shares this aspiration, but we’ll for now eschew the arguments for/against young people walking to school and take it as a community-wide goal that we wish to raise the number of elementary students perambulating.

Our understanding regarding sidewalk responsibility and utility/etc. placement also understands that retrofitting sidewalks into ADA compliance doesn’t generally happen because it cost so much damn money. My project’s core value regarding this present reality is:

Tough shit, you’ve got publicly-owned properties with publicly responsible placement of utility poles/etc. Fix the damn problem.

And so we begin winding our way toward a number of case studies that might approach infinity with friendly, popular Bandelier Elementary:

bandelier burton and wellesley
Apologies for the Google Streetview shot for now. It’s hard to tell that raised curb is on both sides of the telephone pole making it less than the required 36 inches to pass on either side of the sidewalk near the curb ramp. I’ll take my own shots from here on out, and I’ll also bring a tape measure to check those required 36 inches.

Here we are at the corner of Burton and Wellesley in the relatively bucolic and walkable Ridgecrest neighborhood. Many parents fight long and hard to get their kids into Bandelier Elementary. Some even sorta-kinda forge utility documents to get their kids into Bandelier ES, or so I’ve heard over the years.

Yet here at the corner of Burton and Wellesley we look upon the school’s parking lot and a telephone pole preventing required passing room, and, if you squint hard enough, another pole and fire hydrant doing pretty much the same up the road. Note also that there’s actually room to move the nearest pole to the “landscaping” between the sidewalk and low wall.

burton wellesley 2014
A better view of the situation in this 2014 Google Streetview screengrab

Keeping in mind our understanding and aspiration, let’s make this street corner ADA compliant by moving the telephone pole, paid for by you, me, and the “telephone company” (or whatever entity runs lines along this pole). Doing so will also make it just that much more convenient for all walkers/rollers using this sidewalk, including students going to/from their neighborhood elementary school.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Scot, there are nearly an infinite number of such examples. We can’t afford to fix them all and I don’t have time to read a nearly infinite number of case studies about them.”

Please refer to my core value stated above. Onward to the next case study in a future post.

Have a great weekend!



One thought on “Our Elementary Schools and ADA Compliance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s