For Wheelchair Users, L.A. Poses Many Hazards

A trip through the city of Los Angeles reveals the largely overlooked challenges that people with physical disabilities must overcome.

1 minute read

October 5, 2019, 9:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


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Nita Lelyveld spent a day navigating Los Angeles with two people who use wheelchairs, and she better understands the immense mobility obstacles that they face. "Yes, messy sidewalks are hard. But so are shops and restaurants with steps at their entrances. So are blocks that lack curb cuts or have ones that are poorly designed. So are broken elevators."

Lelyveld travels on the Red Line with David Radcliff, who has cerebral palsy. At one station, they find an elevator out of service, which means they cannot reach the street to exit the station. "So we had to backtrack to another station — which, because we’d already been through the turnstiles, meant we had to pay another fare to get back on a train. It was one headache of many."

She points out that these accessibility issues are invisible to many people, but they need to be recognized and addressed. "Because we all — individuals, urban planners, architects, developers, designers, city employees — need to work harder to make the way smoother for Radcliff, [Kat] Kath and others. And to think about how to more fully accommodate and respect those who have greater needs than the majority of us."

Saturday, September 28, 2019 in Los Angeles Times

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