Concerns About Manhattan Curb Cuts Designed to Help Disabled

Many of the curb cuts designed to help disabled people access Manhattan sidewalks are disintegrating, obstructed or nonexistent, according to a report.

Volunteers who analyzed 1,209 measurable curb cuts found that just 115, or 9.5 percent, were fully compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, according to the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

"Crumbling concrete and potholes can make navigating Manhattan streets problematic even for able-bodied New Yorkers — just ask anyone who has pushed a stroller or pulled a food cart for more than a couple blocks," said the report, which was issued Friday. "But for the roughly 600,000 New Yorkers who rely on wheelchairs or walkers or have vision impairments, the dilapidated conditions of Manhattan's curb cuts ... are a serious concern."

The report echoes similar findings from a 2014 survey by the Center for the Independence of the Disabled, New York, reported by NBC 4 New York last week. That survey found more than 75 percent of curbs in lower Manhattan were inaccessible. 

People over age 5 with disabilities comprise 13.6 percent of Manhattan's population, the borough president's office said.

While urging prompt improvements, the report also notes that the city has installed about 97,664 curb cuts since 2004 and credits Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration with helping advance the rights of the disabled.

"Our streets are safer and more accessible than ever before, and we're aggressively expanding new avenues of accessibility for New Yorkers with disabilities everywhere from street corners to taxicabs," said de Blasio's office. "There is a tremendous amount of work ahead, and we are investing as never before to make a more accessible city a reality."

Among the report's recommendations:

— Educate property owners on their responsibilities to maintain sidewalks and curb cuts.

— Ensure that the city's Transportation Department has the resources to regularly inspect curb cuts, ensure ADA compliance and quickly make repairs.

— Update DOT sidewalk repair guidelines.

The borough president's office also said it is reconvening a disability task force.

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