Taking the fall

Posted on Thursday 11 September 2008

I was leaving Dana’s Too last Friday when I met two city councilmen, our main street manager, and a man I didn’t know. One of the city councilmen was talking animatedly to the unknown man while pointing at the new step in front of the entrance into Dana’s Too. I could tell this was a serious conversation by their expressions and their words “she fell right here”. As I slipped past the group I surmised that Spur’s downtown sidewalk project was again falling into (pun intended) poor rapport with some of our community members.

After making some inquiries, I discovered that the project has again taken the fall (again my pun is very much intended) and received yet another black eye as did one of at least three victims who tripped on the step going into Dana’s recently. Since that fall, the step has been marked with bright yellow paint, orange cones and even signs attached to the cones warning people to “watch your step”.

Why, in post-ADA America, do we have seemingly unnecessary steps placed in front of public entrances? I’m told there is a ramp three doors down from Dana’s Too which provides a way up the step, but, as most people are prone to do, the victims took the most direct route to reach the entrance into the store. And, logically speaking and especially considering the need to comply with the ADA and the Texas Accessibility Act (yes, there is such a thing), I again repeat my question: why put steps in front of public entrances?

Now if, as I am told, the steps are necessary to make them compliant with the 2 percent grade from the street to the entrance into Dana’s Too and that a ramp, located three doors down, makes the step accessible to those with handicaps, then it stands to reason that the problems with the structure of the sidewalk lie in the mindset of the people who will require the ramps and those of us trying to come up with some sense for the step being there. Seems to me the state and federal governments should spend some more time and money to figure out the best way to train people to look for and then, by gosh, use the ADA/TAA-compliant ramps put there just for them. That would make at least as much sense as putting steps in front of public entrances.

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