Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

On the 20th Anniversary of ADA, Too Many Streets Remain Inaccessible

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the landmark law that set federal standards to make public places universally accessible. Two decades later, the ADA has improved access for millions, but in many places, the spirit of the law seems lost on those who shape the streets.

To get a sense of how far we have to go before our streets safely accommodate everyone, look no further than the Buford Highway, the suburban arterial roadway outside Atlanta featured in this PBS report (hat tip to Stephen Davis at T4America). The one-two punch of automobile-centric street design and development patterns have made this road a deadly hazard for anyone without a car -- an increasingly large segment of the local population.

At the League of American Bicyclists blog, Jeff Peel makes the connection between the dangers people face on roads like the Buford Highway and the "unfinished business" of the ADA:

While we should take today to celebrate this historic achievement,let’s also take a moment and think about the work remaining to be done.Twenty years after ADA, and almost 40 years since the firstrequirements for curb cuts in Federal projects, it’s shocking that lackof access is still an issue anywhere in the transportation system. Thefact that it is still an issue highlights the entrenched nature ofState DOTs and local public works agencies that are so resistant tochange. Where the ADA has forced transportation agencies to integratethe needs of people with disabilities into planning and projects, theneeds of everyday pedestrians, transit users and, of course, cyclistsare still routinely overlooked or dismissed. And don’t forget, the ADAdidn’t require sidewalks -- it says that if they are present, they mustbe made accessible. That’s why Complete Streetsis so critical and is part of the unfinished business of ADA, andthat’s why the disability community has been such a leader in theComplete Streets movement.

Elsewhere on the Network: Where the Sidewalk Starts looks with envy to Victoria, British Columbia, where lawmakers are looking to decriminalize the act of jaywalking downtown. A USA Today report on commuters opting to take light rail or bike to work prompts some ideas from Walkable DFW on how to structure incentives to commute by transit. And Rob Pitingolo ponders the growing popularity of intercity bus travel.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

The Paris Plan for Olympic Traffic? Build More Bike Lanes

A push to make Paris fully bikable for the Olympics is already paying dividends long before the opening ceremonies.

July 25, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines Face Our Fears

What happens if Republicans win the trifecta in November? Judging by the GOP-controlled House budget, a lot less money for transit, Smart Cities Dive reports.

July 25, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines Are in a Good Place

How should we react to public indifference about the danger cars pose to society? Perhaps a sitcom has something to teach us.

July 24, 2024

Opinion: Is Kamala Harris ‘The Climate President We’ve Been Waiting For’?

Kamala Harris fought hard for a better transportation plan in the San Diego region despite big political risks. If elected president, will she do the same for the country?

July 24, 2024

America is Setting Micromobility Records — But That Boom Could Go Bust Without Public Funding

Shared bike and scooter trips soared 20 percent in a single year. So why are so many U.S. systems shutting down — and what will it take to keep the revolution rolling?

July 24, 2024
See all posts