Stretching from the very tip of Manhattan Island and running north for three miles, Broadway has become synonymous with New York City.
Along those hundreds of blocks, over 1,300 locations on the Great White Way are designated for handicap accessible ramps, or curb cuts. They’re mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
But a report released Tuesday by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has found that only 115 — less than 10% — of designated wheelchair curb cuts complied with ADA standards. Over half of existing curb cuts led directly in to a pothole. Others were blocked by newsstands, scaffolding or other objects.
Staff from Brewer’s office spent months documenting every inch of America’s most famous street ahead of the 25th anniversary of the ADA.
“The ADA’s 25th anniversary isn’t just a time to celebrate the progress we’ve achieved,” said Brewer in a press release. “It’s a time to double down on the work that still needs to be done to make our city safe, navigable, and welcoming for New Yorkers with disabilities.”
WNYC reports that responsibility for curb cuts and other accessibility features lies with property owners.
The city’s department of transportation is responsible for inspecting the footpath and then notifying property owners when and if repairs are needed. If property owners don’t make repairs within 40 days of receiving the notice, the city can hire someone to make the repairs and bill the property owner for the cost.
Borough presidents, while elected, hold little decision making power in the New York City political arena. But they do have influence in City Hall, which quickly responded to Brewer’s report.
“We’re moving aggressively to make sure our streets are safe and accessible for every New Yorker,” Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, told WNYC.
“The City has now installed pedestrian ramps at 91 per cent of all necessary corners, and we’re working to upgrade them to be ADA accessible.”