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Eyes on the Street: Tactical Urbanism Reclaims Upper Manhattan Curb Ramp

4:48 PM EDT on May 23, 2017

A tipster sent this photo of an experiment in tactical urbanism that reclaimed a curb ramp somewhere in Upper Manhattan.

Prior to 2009 it was illegal for motorists to block curb ramps at unmarked crosswalks. But a DOT rule change, which preempted a bill introduced by Brooklyn City Council Member Vincent Gentile, converted unmarked crosswalks at unsignalized T intersections to parking spaces. Now blocking the ramps is no longer prohibited.

About a year ago, someone (not our tipster) painted a yellow line on this curb ramp, on a mostly residential street that abuts a park.

“It’s the only sidewalk ramp on that side of the street for a block in either direction," says our reader, "so when someone blocks it, if you need a ramp to access the sidewalk (or the park), you have to go a block out of the way."

According to our tipster, who walks by the ramp twice a day on weekdays, drivers are now much less likely to block it. “I’d say it’s clear 90 percent of the time,” she says. “That wasn’t the case before.”

Amazing what human decency and a little paint can accomplish.

Before a 2009 DOT rule change it was illegal to block curb ramps at unmarked crosswalks. Photo: Brad Aaron
Before a 2009 DOT rule change it was illegal to block curb ramps at unmarked crosswalks. Photo: Brad Aaron

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