Monday, February 28, 2011

Disabled Continue to Get Short Shrift from City of Naperville

This is the internationally recognized symbol ...
It's tough being disabled in Naperville.
  1. In November, the Naperville City Council voted to reduce the number of on-street handicap parking places in downtown Naperville.
  2. Earlier this month, the city created 26 new parking spaces for the Naperville Train Station .  The Americans with Disabilities Act required that 2 of those 26 new spaces be configured with access aisles and handicap parking signs, but the city didn't bother to do so until the Watchman came calling.
This summer Burlington Northern will replace the platform at the downtown Naperville train station. This is a good thing.  The platform is full of cracks in the concrete that get wider every year.  It's something of a miracle that a woman hasn't caught a heel in those cracks and fallen under the wheels of an approaching train.  The Watchman has been advocating for that platform to be rebuilt for many years now.

2600 series bus at the Naperville Metra station.

So on Friday, out pops the city's plan for mitigating the train station parking problems that will be in evidence all summer long.  They've got plans to accommodate motorcycle riders and bike riders, free monthly Pace bus passes for commuters, suspension of monthly permit fees while construction is going on, etc.  They've really thought this through!  They'e got a plan for communicating all this to the public.  They're even prepared to spend $30,000 of your tax dollars on the free Pace Bus passes and other mitigation strategies.  I mean, they've got this covered!  Case closed.

But have they given a New York minute to mitigating the effect of this construction on disabled commuters?  No, not even a New York second.

Considering that the brunt of the parking disruption will be born by disabled commuters, that's amazingly thoughtless.  You see, the handicap parking spaces are all close to the platform, as they should be for easy access.  But that also means those are the parking spaces most likely to be out of service for the longest period of time while trucks and backhoes drive over the bright blue handicap symbols as they haul away the old platform concrete and bring in the new, pre-poured concrete slabs.  They estimate the whole project will take 8-10 weeks to complete.  That means for 8-10 weeks a substantial portion -- or all -- of the handicap parking places will be out out of service.

Does the city have a plan for temporarily relocating those ADA parking spaces?  Nope.  At least it's not in the plan they announced last Friday.  You can't stripe an ADA parking space just anywhere you please, you know.  ADA parking has maximum slope considerations and those lots at the train station are all pretty hilly.  And even if they do find some alternate spaces farther away from the train station that can temporarily be used as ADA parking, how will that help somebody on crutches who can barely make it from the close-in parking to the train?  How about spending some of that $30,000 to pay a high school kid to shuttle disabled people to and from the station/parking on an electric golf cart during the morning and evening rush?  Is anybody at the city thinking about this from the disabled citizen's perspective??  It doesn't appear so.

And has anyone given any thought to the changes that will be needed to the circulation routes during construction?  Usually this is thought of at the last minute, if at all, when they throw up detour signs that say 'Sidewalk Closed' or 'Entrance Closed' or 'Pedestrian Tunnel Closed'.  That's bother enough for able-bodied folks, but 'alternate routes' are often impossible for wheelchair users unless a lot of pre-planning has been done.

So once again, as expected, true to form, the City of Naperville gives little or no thought to accommodating her most vulnerable citizens.  

Positively Naperville.
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