Wednesday, October 7, 2020

This bike offramp is intended to keep cyclists out of roundabout traffic. It routes bikes from the roadway to the sidewalk; once they use the crosswalk there’s an on-ramp to move them back to the road.


For a pedestrian who is blind or low-vision and uses a cane, the design is a problem. This pedestrian ‘tracks right,’ using her cane to follow the right edge of the walkway to stay on track. The slight angle of the ramp seems normal at first, and the lack of any tactile change at the roadway means she is well into the oncoming traffic lane and into the raised lane divider before she realizes something is wrong. For this roundabout design there are four such ramps. The day we visited the Warm Springs corridor, we noticed several inattentive drivers on cellphones; at an intersection to the west of this location, several cars flew right through the flashing pedestrian signal. With a silent electric vehicle, there is no warning that a collision is imminent. It’s critical for planners and designers to include a variety of users with different perspectives to review and contribute to designs affecting connectivity, visit ability and safety. We should note that several people were watching traffic to ensure her safety. Her goal was simply to follow the sidewalk heading west as she would normally navigate with a cane. More videos from this Barber Valley Access Audit to follow. The full video is part of a larger project of the Idaho Access Project.

Friday, June 26, 2020

30 Years of the ADA!

Idahoans are celebrating 30 Years of Community Access, Independent Living, Employment and Activism through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The COVID-19 pandemic means we're adapting plans for Hands Around the Capitol 2020” to create a series of online events, beginning in July and continuing until the end of October. We welcome your involvement!

The ADA means people with disabilities are treated the same way as others. We'll use social media  to share stories of how the ADA empowers us to live the lives we want, and to celebrate the people who made it all possible.

The law expanded opportunities for 304,000 Idahoans with disabilities by reducing barriers, changing perceptions, and increasing full participation in community life. The ADA's promise can only be reached through shared to fully implement the ADA through education and outreach.

To help celebrate, follow activities on social media:
#ThanksToTheADA #ADA30Idaho #WhatTheADAMeansToMe

For more information or to share your stories, contact

Monday, June 1, 2020

Adaptive Recreation Creates Opportunity, Supports Local Economies

Paraskier making a sharp turn on the ski slope
Even before the ADA was signed into law, people living with disabilityand their families and friendsfound ways to pursue interests in sports and the outdoors. There are many pioneers in the field, including Jim Winthers, a veteran connected to the 10th Mountain Division in WWII. He found models in Europe to help returning veterans learn to ski after losing limbs. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and where there's a will, there's a way...

As a former volunteer with S'PLORE! (Special Populations Learning Outdoor Recreation and Education), it was great to learn from our diverse client base about their drive and specific needs to get outdoors and ski, raft, climb or paddle. What struck me back then was a common request from wheelchair users during our overnight rafting trips on the Colorado River:
I'd like watch the river for a while and be alone...
We all benefit from solitude, the sensation of wind and sun or the natural sights and sounds of water, landscape and open sky. What I learned was that this can apply equally for those with mobility, sensory or developmental challenges. The other thing I learned from fellow volunteers who were wheelchair users themselves was their value for roadless areas and wildernesseven when that meant they couldn't visit easily. While others might feel differently, the knowledge that those areas were preserved in a natural state was as important to them as it was to anyone else.

To get a sense of the experience of a wheelchair user running the Coloradofrom an unintentional swim to using the camp 'groover'see this piece featured on, Rafting the Colorado with a Wheelchair, by John
 W. Mitchell.

As we all adjust to a world with #COVID-19, guides, outfitters and others in the recreation-tourism industry are anxious to accommodate clients again safely. With up to 12% of Idaho's population living with some form of disability, that's a market share worth welcoming into your lodge, shop, cabins, boat and restaurant.

Idaho is a state with exceptional recreational and landscape valuesand an economy based largely on providing access to those places. Boise's Ridge to River trail system features several wheelchair-accessible trail segments that let more folks explore the landscape, fresh air and views around the city.

Two adaptive cycle users stopped on a foothills trail overlooking the City of Boise.
Copyright, Ridge to River

I'm happy to report that S'PLORE, a small Utah nonprofit, is now part of the National Ability Center. One look at their program list will give anyone a sense of the potential available to both individuals and local businesses. Whether it's hunting, fishing, skiing, bird watching or boating, Idaho has much to offer.

Wheelchair user fishing at Lake Anna State Park's universally accessible overlook

Access Means Business, and Access Means Welcome.

What are we waiting for?

Sunday, October 27, 2019

When bridges become barriers

During a 2019 hashtagaccess audit in an east Boise, ID subdivision, hashtagplanning and hashtagdesign barriers were evident throughout the 'walk and roll' event. From the absence of Greenbelt access indicators to steep connecting ramps, missing or misaligned curb cuts, and even surface materials, the team encountered multiple opportunities for improved mobility and access. Take the bridge decking in the photo above. The openings are the perfect size to trap small front wheels on a manual chair or swallow the tip of a cane. It's also a surface service dogs might perceive as unsafe. This is a perfect example of the need to include a range of voices in the planning process. Until you've tried to navigate your community without full vision, hearing or mobility, access is often an afterthought. Construction can create life-threatening hashtagbarriers and hazards, as in this 2018 story about ongoing hashtagtransportation projects. ( Highway signs in the path of travel can trip a pedestrian or force them into the roadway. This is not a mere inconvenience; we all need to increase our access awareness and take an active role in creating barrier-free communities.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Convertible powered ramps/walkways provide access in tight spaces

An interesting product idea that could be an answer in some situations. Here are the descriptions from a couple of YouTube videos posted by the manufacturer. See more at

"The Accessor Convertible Walkway (ACW) is designed to provide access where building conditions will not permit the use of a permanent ramp or lift. The initial design intent was to provide access to buildings in older areas of many cities that, heretofore, could not be made accessible. The initial product designs were for exterior applications. However, a number of interior applications have been identified and more are being discovered for this new accessibility solution.
For more information, visit or call 209-838-2400.
*General Features*
1. Surface mount—no pit required.
2. Thin stowed profile—less than 1-inch thick.
3. Platform parks in the horizontal position until needed.
4. Counterbalanced for power drive efficiency.
5. Operable undercarriage closeouts.
6. Standard slope is 1:12 unless the application dictates otherwise (i.e., space constraints).
7. 1:18 tapered threshold on 3-sides"

See the convertible ramp here.

"The Accessor Convertible Walkway (ACW) is designed to provide access where building conditions will not permit the use of a permanent ramp or lift. The initial design intent was to provide access to buildings in older areas of many cities that, heretofore, could not be made accessible. The initial product designs were for exterior applications. However, a number of interior applications have been identified and more are being discovered for this new accessibility solution."

See the convertible walkway here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Reaching Out Persons with Disabilities - Ten Lessons

Parents, grandparents, and children arrive at a hotel for vacation.
Some great information from the ADA for small business. Getting people in the door is just one aspect of expanding markets and providing goods and services to persons living with disability.

"Did you know?

  • More than 50 million Americans with disabilities - 18% of our population - are potential customers for businesses of all types across the United States.
  • This group has $175 billion in discretionary spending power, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That figure is more than twice the spending power of American teenagers and almost 18 times the spending power of the American "tweens" market.
  • Accessibility attracts not only people with disabilities but also their families and friends. Like others, these customers often visit stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses accompanied by family or friends. This expands the potential market exponentially!
  • This market is growing fast. By the year 2030, 71.5 million Baby Boomers will be over the age of 65 and demanding products, services, and environments that address their age-related physical changes."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cycling infrastructure means new pathways for all

Check out this video of cycling infrastructure, or 'infra,' in the Netherlands. A leader in bike- and pedestrian-friendly communities, Dutch culture is equally friendly in terms of universal access. Both stakeholders that use wheelchairs and cyclists find common cause in advocating for safe routes that connect neighborhoods, communities and recreational amenities.

As Idaho's statewide Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) and other mobility planners explore options to expand transportation choices, keep this video in mind. To learn more, call Erik at 208.331.4706.

Who else benefits from Dutch cycling infrastructure?

(Photo: Chuck Humel)
Some ingenious ways to combine bike and wheelchair commuting with friends and family:
See also: