Your Rogue for the Portland Bureau of Transportation regarding curb ramps [April 28, 2010] is somewhat disingenuous. You state that only 4 percent of Portland’s corners have “those ADA-required cutouts.” Actually, 39 percent of Portland’s corners have wheelchair ramps.
Portland has been installing ramps since the 1970s. Ramp standards and the ADA requirements have changed over time. The current requirement with the yellow raised bumps is less than nine years old, and actually has not been officially adopted yet. So, although only 4 percent have the latest version, almost 40 percent have ramps. Those 40 percent cover most of the arterial streets in the city, the most important places for ramps. The bureau’s (citizen) Pedestrian Advisory Committee, of which I am a member, is regularly advised of the progress of this effort.
In addition, advocates for the disabled and pedestrian advocates, as well as city staff, have worked to get Portland to install two ramps at each corner if possible, rather than the single diagonal ramp that meets ADA minimums. Two ramps allow one to point to each crosswalk, helping guide the visually impaired, and keeping wheelchair users from having to veer into traffic to get back in the crosswalk.
Certainly the way funding is distributed is a valid point, but the work Portland crews do in installing workable ramps should be acknowledged.
Southeast 43rd Avenue
Editor’s note: The fact that only 4 percent of Portland curb corners have ADA-required cutouts is from the city’s own report. But the letter-writer is correct that the ADA standards have changed over time and that 39 percent of Portland’s corners have some sort of wheelchair ramp.