A blog about universal and accessible design

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The People's Sidewalks: Curb Cuts in Berkeley, CA

Here is a short article I wrote for the (newish) magazine BOOM: A Journal of California on the curb cuts built along Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, CA in the 1970s. Berkeley was not the first place to have curb cuts for wheelchairs - there are documented cuts in Kalamazoo, MI, and probably the first generally accessible city was Champaign, IL, near the University of Illinois. But as far as I can tell, Berkeley was the first place to have a planned "Wheelchair Route" - a contiguous set of cuts that carved out wheelchair access in a pedestrian district (shopping area near UC Berkeley) and then through a set of well-traveled routes (Telegraph from UC Berkeley to Ashby Ave; Downtown Berkeley along Shattuck Ave). These were planned by an Urban Planning student at UC Berkeley in collaboration with activists/staff at the Center for Independent Living.