A study of over 1,200 curb cuts along Broadway showed that only 115 were actually fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. She said, "If fewer than 10 percent of our curb cuts are up to code and accessible on our longest, most recognizable commercial street, we have a problem."
Of the 1,209 curb cuts examined, this is what they found:
10.5% ...were missing entirely
6% ...led directly to a pothole
18% ...were blocked by street furniture
88.7% ...had no “bumps” to warn users of ramp
28% ...were too steep
59.6% ...were uneven where cut meets street
24% ...were crumbling concrete
8% ...had the entire corner ramping down
The ADA is 25 years old this year, and the study noted its history:
New York City has done much to make our streets safer for those living with disabilities. With Vision Zero, the de Blasio administration has taken concrete steps toward advancing the rights of the disability community. Crossing distances on many avenues are now shorter, for example, and the city has lowered the speed limit and is aggressively pursuing action against dangerous drivers.
The administration has also backed legislation introduced in 2014 by the Borough President and Council Member Mark Levine to increase the number of audible pedestrian signals, which help blind and low-vision New Yorkers cross the street. And the city has committed to ensuring that at least half of the city’s taxi fleet is accessible by 2020.
The city has also made some efforts toward improving our city’s curb cuts. In 2004, New York City settled a lawsuit brought by the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (now the United Spinal Association), which claimed that the city stood in violation of the ADA because of the noncompliance of curb cuts. Since that suit, the city has installed roughly 97,664 curb cuts.
This is great progress, but the data we collected provide evidence of what we have known anecdotally for a long time: many of Manhattan’s curb cuts stand in clear violation of the ADA. Because of the disrepair of Manhattan’s curb cuts, the city is facing a second lawsuit by disability rights advocates to encourage compliance.
And the disability community is hardly the only group to utilize curb cuts—anyone pushing a stroller or bike or using a pull cart knows how useful and important they are.
You can read about the study and methodology here. One of Brewer's suggestions is to better educate property owners about how to maintain curb cuts that are ADA compliant.