Letter: More greenways should accommodate needs of disabled people

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Good to see that the new provision of a greenway in and near the River Arts District includes widening of walkways. It is essential that the needs of people vulnerable in the context of greenways may be met this time around. I’m speaking of people who are deaf or significantly hard of hearing.

I contacted Buncombe County two or three years ago, when many greenways or extensions of greenways were being proposed, to express concerns at the description of them I was seeing. There was concern to get bikers and cars separated better. Yes, essential, but what about the need to separate walkers from cyclists, runners and others using greenways at speeds or with devices which can do damage when collisions occur? I was told it would be prohibitively expensive to separate pedestrians from others. Nothing they could do, they said. Sorry!

I walk a dog quite often on Reed Creek Greenway. Many people are very accommodating to the needs of others when these are obvious. But deafness and hearing loss are not obvious. Cyclists come by and look at me as if to say, “Are you deaf? I was shouting out I would be passing on your left?” Well, actually, I am not deaf. I am moderately hard of hearing. And I did not hear you, was not aware of you till you were right behind me. And there are many whose hearing problem is far worse than mine. Many of those, especially those who indeed are deaf, would be putting life and limb in danger to try walking on most greenways. So they don’t. How sad!

Sorry isn’t enough. The Americans with Disabilities Act is supposed to give disabled people access to community venues and events. This is not being honored in regard to greenways. I’ve wondered about a compromise where segments would be made accessible by separating pedestrians from cyclists. So I’m excited to see that, in effect, this is being planned for that one segment in the RAD. Those with hearing problems, take note.

But cyclists and runners, please also take note. If someone doesn’t seem to be hearing you, they probably can’t. The onus is on you, not them, to avoid the accident that could put one of you in the hospital with severe injury or worse.

And Buncombe County, take note. Isn’t it less expensive to plan a solution from the beginning than to be forced to respond to the lawsuit someone may bring one day? The ADA is the law.

— Ann Karson


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

9 thoughts on “Letter: More greenways should accommodate needs of disabled people

  1. Mike R.

    If you study the history of the ADA, you will realize that your statement, “The Americans with Disabilities Act is supposed to give disabled people access to community venues and events” was never the inital intent. Instead, it was to provide access to government centers such as courthouses, city hall, etc. Unfortunately, George H.W. Bush allowed this legislation to be incredibly vague and before long, lawyers expanded this act to include just about everything except perhaps a wheel chair accessible route down the Grand Canyon.

    I believe the Act has been so expanded and expectations have been set so high that we have spent way more than was necessary or justified for the greater good.

    The reality is that as people grow older, you can’t (and shouldn’t) expect to do all the things you did when you were younger. But in America, we have been talked into believing that everything is our right.

    All of this ADA stuff cost lots and lots of money. I would submit that we have way overspent in this area for marginal returns in many situations. I could elaborate more, but I’m sure I’ll get an earful first.

    • Lou

      When you grow older, right. But people with disabilities face discrimination and inconvenience THEIR ENTIRE LIVES. Gee Mike, entitled MUCH?

      • Mike R.

        Yes, I agree that early disabled people need support from our society. But there is a rational limit to what that support should incliude. For example, if someone in there 30’s is wheel chair bound, should society make all streets/curbs, transit system/greenways accessible to this person? Where do you draw the line in terms of cost to society. I am emphathetic for disabled people; particularly those that are younger. But at what cost? Should we provide wheel chair accessible routes for hiking?? For greenways?? For every sidewalk in the city?? By the way, the ADA had been expanded for the latter. Did you know??:

        • Lou

          Did YOU know that the term “wheelchair bound” is insulting and makes you sound ignorant and entitled? The world is full of a variety of people with a variety of abilities. Get over yourself and be someone who facilitates equality.

    • bsummers

      Unfortunately, George H.W. Bush allowed this legislation to be incredibly vague

      That Liberal Bass Tard!!!

  2. Mike

    As a cyclist, greenways are for causal cruising. If I’m trying to get a workout in, I ride somewhere else. I almost never ride the Reed Creek greenway, but I ride WT Weaver all the time, specifically because there are so many walkers runners birdwatchers et al on Reed Creek. Why would I want to ruin other people’s experiences with my needs?

    • Jim

      As a cyclist, I always avoid the greenways, the road is always a better option, straighter, faster, and no pedestrians.

    • Lou

      You do realize that people with disabilities don’t ASK to be born with them right? Wow, so many entitled people in the world…explains a LOT about where we are right now as a society.

  3. Brooke Heaton

    Adding more protected bike lanes throughout the city – especially on major thoroughfares – would go a long way to relieving the strain on our greenways. I bike on our greenways, but respectfully slow down near any pedestrians, but I’d much prefer to bike on routes like the new separated bike lane on the East French Broad Greenway in RAD. Improving existing bike lanes like Riverside Drive and adding new protected routes on streets like Broadway should help open new opportunities so that bikers are not frequenting Reed Creek.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.