I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog Curb cutout mats with bumps not safe

When at thirteen years old I first got ill with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, there were no ADA laws for the disabled. We lived in a world created for those with few if any, physical limitations. Going places with curbs took my father some deft maneuvering to get my wheelchair up and down without spilling me out of the chair. Though he tried to be gentle, my pain levels often had me gritting my teeth so I wouldn’t cry out.

Imagine my relief when cities began replacing those high curbs with ramp access. My wheelchair would go smoothly up on the sidewalks, down to the street, and up again on the other side. This was especially welcomed when I had massive surgery to help me walk again. At first, I was encased in a brace that went from my shoes to above my waist. Add crutches and walking was slow going. The ramped curbs weren’t easy to negotiate, but, with assistance, I could manage.

Eventually, I got rid of both brace and crutches. Even so, managing curbs has never been simple or easy. My balance comes in to play as does the possibility of tripping. (Now that many of my friends are dealing with limitations due to age, I share that learning to walk heel to toe cuts down on tripping because the toe is less likely to catch on something like a crack.) 

For years I managed the smooth concrete ramp curbs. Some were more accessible than others and, often, as the concrete crumbled, there were few, if any, attempts to repair curbs that became increasingly dangerous for those with limitations. Still, most were better than a high curb.

That is no longer the case. The last, I don’t know how many years, many smooth curb cutouts sported something new. Many, probably most, curb cutouts now have a rubber-like mat at the top of the ramped portion. I can understand how a flat rubber-like mat could assist in keeping a wheelchair or a foot from slipping, especially when it is raining or snowing.

What I cannot grasp are the almost suction-like raised dots all over the mat like mushrooms. I’d like to know the thought process behind this concept. These mats have turned what were perfectly acceptable curbs into something I now avoid if at all possible. (If a car is close to the curb, I can use the car to hike myself on and off the sidewalk.) Using the car method is safer than negotiating those awful mats. When I must use them, I need assistance and hang on for all I’m worth as I wobble my way over the raised dots. 

The mats unbalance me and are a huge trip hazard. If I had my way, they’d all disappear. A flat mat. Fine, but leave off the suction-like cups. I wonder how many others, like me, have been frustrated with this addition to the curb ramps.

I hope someone with some common sense will come up with a better plan. Until then, park close to the curb, I just might need to use your car.

© 2020 Carolyn R Scheidies

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