This interview will be live on “St. Louis on the Air” over the 11 a.m. hour Friday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.
In an age of crumbling infrastructure across the U.S., sidewalks have been no exception to the pattern of decay. The city of St. Louis alone is home to roughly 2,000 miles worth of sidewalks, and both the physical condition and suitability of those streetside pathways vary widely.
David Newburger, St. Louis’ commissioner on the disabled, thinks about sidewalks quite a bit. He notes that he’s old enough to remember when curb cuts — sloped curb faces that are particularly critical for someone using a wheelchair — were few and far between. These days, Newburger says, a lot of effort goes into the design of new sidewalks to ensure that they are safe and passable for everyone, including pedestrians with disabilities.
As he and colleagues work to update sidewalks and maintain ADA compliance, they’re also thinking about sidewalks within the context of streets as a whole, and organizations including Trailnet continue to push for long-term policy fixes aimed at keeping people safer.
Meanwhile, local municipalities including both St. Louis and Kirkwood are participating in the National Complete Streets Coalition, which is focused on making roads better for all types of users rather than prioritizing drivers.