Road engineers experience crossing the street in a wheelchair

Our sidewalks are used by people of all ages and abilities.

As we design street improvements & prioritize pedestrian safety, it’s important to do our best to understand how people with different abilities use our sidewalks & street crossings.

In addition to staying to date on American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and partnering with groups like Rooted in Rights, our engineers participate in blindness and mobility simulation training.

Through our ADA program, engineers participated in a voluntary exercise that allowed them to use a wheelchair to test out new curb ramps & sidewalks.

While it’s understood that we can’t fully replicate the circumstances of those that rely on mobility devices to get around, there are many good lessons that can be learned using a manual wheelchair.

Our engineers that attempted using the wheelchair found quickly that it’s not easy. Even modest cross slopes and bumpy sidewalk or street surfaces can make getting around quite challenging. This firsthand experience helps us think about the designs we work on daily, and hopefully will give us a better perspective when we’re at the drawing board contemplating our projects.

Learn more about our ADA program & how individuals with specific needs can request curb ramps & accessible pedestrian signals.

View our Seattle Accessible Route Planner to plan routes with Seattle’s sidewalks and curb ramps. Learn how curb ramps are constructed in our previous blog Anatomy of a Curb Ramp.