In the Sunday GLOBE’s article, Kevin Cullen reported on a meeting held by the Beacon Hill Association. The article raised the issue of preserving the legacy of brickwalks in cities today. The Beacon Hill group would like to preserve the area’s brick walkways exactly as they are.
However, Mr. Cullen argued that this decision for brick preservation came from an elitist group who chose to ignore the needs of the city’s disabled. He failed to suggest a compromise in regards to installing brick ramps – instead of concrete ramps – that would accommodate the needs of the disabled. Instead, there seems to be no middle-ground for the Beacon Hill community – either have all brick walks without ramps or only concrete ramps.
Cambridge Brickwalk Conservancy, Inc. (CBC), believes a middle ground exists that will satisfy both disabled and non-disabled. CBC would like to see consideration given to the proper design and installation of bricks so that walkways are safe for all. The American Disabilities Act provides instructions for the installation of such ramps. See www.access-board.gpv for standards on ramps in parts 4.7 and 4.8. Materials for construction are not specified, but notes that ramps must be stable, firm and slip resistant. Brick can be designed and set to comply.
Cambridge has already preserved much of its brick sidewalks. They represent a legacy while adding unique charm to the city. But in recent years, these brickwalks have been replaced with concrete and asphalt without consideration of those who care about the streets and the beauty of the brick that defines so much of Cambridge. With support, CBC hopes to assist Cambridge in caring for its sidewalks while maintaining a safe and pedestrian friendly space for all.
Instead of calling names, let’s think of balanced approaches to the concrete vs brick ramp issues for the disabled and non-disabled.