Ramped up: Pedestrian rankled over city's snow policy

With the white stuff still falling during the March 6 storm that dumped a foot of heavy wet snow on the Charlottesville area, plows were out clearing streets, and by 4pm on Thursday, March 7– 24 hours after the last official snowflake fell– city residents and businesses were required to have cleared the sidewalks along their properties– or face fines. It would be days before many curb ramps were cleared of snow piled there by city plows, however, and pedestrian activist Kevin Cox, whose wife is blind, says the city's failure to ensure handicapped access to pedestrian right-of-ways is "particularly outrageous."

"I think this is a deliberate and defiant violation of the ADA," he writes in an email sent to City Manager Maurice Jones on Friday March 8, criticizing what he believes is a city policy that prioritizes road clearing over safety for the handicapped.

"If you're in a wheelchair, you're screwed," he says. "It's really tough if you're visually impaired.

Transportation director Judith Mueller did not return the Hook's call by posting time, but city spokesperson Miriam Dickler says the curb ramps fall under the same ordinance as sidewalks. The city, she says, ensures that curb ramps adjacent to city buildings and parks are cleared "as quickly as possible." Other ramps around the city are the responsibility of the property owners, who will face fines if they don't clear the ramps within the 24-hour window.
Cox, however, wants to see a change in snow clearing policy so that curb ramps are prioritized for clearing and the city takes stronger measures to make it happen.

"Other cities somehow or another manage to keep sidewalks free of snow," he says, noting that even after most snow had melted four days after the storm, curb ramps remained blocked because the snow had been piled so high on them. "Why install curb ramps," he asks, "if you're not going to maintain them and make them accessible?"

Read more on: snow curb ramps


The city should hold itself to the same standards that they hold of their citizens. I don't know what the penalty would be or how they would fine themselves but they should be required to clear THEIR city sidewalks (i.e. Pedestrian Ramps) within 24 hours just as citizens are required to do.....or be fined.

Good luck with that.

Every penny City Council spends on what it is actually supposed to do is one penny less they have to dole out in special "discretionary" favors and grants to buy their political security.

People with bad backs and trick knees and the elderly accept the fact that when it snows their mobility is limited and avoid the ice and snow and plan accordingly.

The ADA was created to help the disabled. It it legislation that is a generous attempt by the taxpayers to make life with a disability as normal as possible. It is not a constitiutional right it is a legislative one. It should be treated as such.

As long as the city makes an honest effort like the citizens do then best is best. To place a blind person or a wheelchair bound person to the head of the line in a snowstorm is an abuse of societies kindness.

Maybe she should have found a husband who would run errands for her when it snows.

Perhaps just this one time...what Bill Marshall said.

Societies kindness = society's kindness

He strikes again, covertly backing the liberal cause for more school funding for spelling programs.

BTW, wasn't Kevin Cox somehow involved in city politics in the late '90s-early '00s? The name sounds familiar.

R.I.P.: Theodore Bundy

Nice jab there ace.... the problem with the spelling was not the lack of funding... I went to c-ville public schools where the focus was on preventing racial violence....

There was not a whole lot of educating going on despite the best efforts of some very dedicated teachers.

... and the politician I believe you are reffering to was Kevin Lynch who I doubt would whine like this...

The people responsible for the City's infrastructure are very aware of the needs of disabled citizens. I am not sure what cities outperform Cville in that area - especially ones with the grade issues we have. Could sidewalk clearing (and for that matter schools, parking downtown, and the salaries of the people who have to go out and actually clear our streets and sidewalks) be improved? Of course, but we should not let our diligence in finding areas that can be improved prevent is from expressing our gratitude for the things that are done well.

D'baggery of this sort is why people hate liberals.

There is widespread ignorance of the real purpose of the Americans with Disabilites Act. Many believe that this law is intended to be a generous gift to those who suffer from physical disability. It is not a gift and does not reflect compassion or pity on the part of the US Congress. Rather, it is a civil rights law that is meant to protect the constitutional rights of disabled citizens. The law states the purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act:

"(1) to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities;

(2) to provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities;

(3) to ensure that the Federal Government plays a central role in enforcing the standards established in this chapter on behalf of individuals with disabilities; and

(4) to invoke the sweep of congressional authority, including the power to enforce the fourteenth amendment and to regulate commerce, in order to address the major areas of discrimination faced day-to-day by people with disabilities."

In 1990 when George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilites Act he said, “Today’s legislation brings us closer to that day when no Americans will ever again be deprived of their basic guarantees of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”


Kevin, The portion of the law you are quoting is making a huge assumption that the city is "discriminatinating" against someone by not placing their needs ahead of everyone elses.

There is no discrimination here. Just an incredible sense of entitelment. The disabled are are not due reperations. they are due under the act "reasonable accomodation" which means the city needs to get to it in due time somewhere in the list, not first and foremost.

To call this "particularly outrageous." and to say "I think this is a deliberate and defiant violation of the ADA" is just show proof positive that you feel you are owed something by right instead of by the moral values of your fellow citizens.

The 14th amendment protections are about hiring and access. The ramps provide the access so there are no 14th amendment issues here. The city did not refuse to clean the passages they just didn't give you the speed that you desire. The citiies obligations are not to serve at your pleasure.it is to take care of all the citizens in as an efficient and reasonable way as possible. Hundreds of people should not be denied a safe road to clear a passageway for a few when the few are merely inconvienenced for a reasonable amount of time. Not only is that legal but it is fair.

You have insulted a city that makes more accomodations than most probably 90% of other cities the same size in the country.

The city never cleaned many of the ramps that are city property. Ramps were blocked needlessly by plowed snow that shoud have been pushed out of the street and off of the ramps. UVa did a good job keeping the ramps open and free of snow from snow plowed off the street and also getting the snow out of the street. The city could have done the same.

So perhaps a letter to the city ASKING them to do as good a job as UVA would have gone a lot further than the insults and accusations. ...

Why do you assume that letters have not been written..over and over again over the years?

Well I guess it was because when I read the article there was a quote from you accusing the city of discrimination for a pile of snow but nothing about letters being written for years.

I revert back to my 10:00 response.

Nobody OWES you more than they owe anyone else and to complain otherwise misreads the laws letter and intent.

I assume that--as a "pedestrian activist"--there is some (oh, God, here comes the label) Liberal bent to the author's attitudes. This was illustrated quite well in the opening sentence of his rebuttal post: "There is widespread ignorance of the real purpose of the [insert favorite cause here]." The implication, of course, that we conservative ignoramuses need to be better taught and educated.

As for the title "pedestrian activist," where were you in the 1960s when I was eight month old and my parents were busting my agates about walking when I was only too happy to crawl around and mumble? I could have used you back then to whip my pedestrianly-ambitious parents into shape on my behalf and just let me keep crawling!

R.I.P.: Bobby Troup

I find this article to be completely over the top (and I'm actually quite happy to pay taxes toward public services - those who dwell in the little tiny boxes of US politics would call me "liberal").

However, this: " The implication, of course, that we conservative ignoramuses need to be better taught and educated."

Is simply ridiculous. First, if you want to turn everything everything into some "liberal" vs. conservative thing, that's fine and its common, but its silly and counterproductive. Second, if you self-identify as a conservative and run around with this kind of paranoia that others are frequently telling you that you don't know what you are talking about, maybe its time to wonder about that.

The statement made above about misunderstanding ADA had not a thing to any overly simplistic dualistic political divide, nor did it have anything to do with calling any "one" side of the dualism anything at all. All it amounts to is a way of dismissing the argument without having to engage it.