A Bizarre Boston Sidewalk Ramp Clash

I never got around to discussing this while I lived in Boston, but during the last couple of years that I lived there, there was a huge fight between the residents of Beacon Hill and the City of Boston over… sidewalk ramps:

A Beacon Hill residents association has sued the city of Boston to stop the installation of sidewalk ramps for the disabled the civic group says would spoil the character of the historic neighborhood…

It’s not access for the disabled the civic group opposes, but the materials the city is using. Residents would rather have ramps made of granite than concrete, so they are more in tune with the architecture of the Colonial-era neighborhood with red brick sidewalks and narrow cobblestone streets. Mayor Martin Walsh’s administration has rejected that idea as too expensive.

Here’s what the city wants to install (and is installing):


Ugly as sin. Beacon Hill is a major tourist attraction: why would you uglify it? What I don’t get about the mayor’s attitude–who seems to be portraying this as the whim of a bunch of richie-rich types (and who fails to get that tourists like the old sidewalks)–is that there are other options that the city already uses in Beacon Hill. Here’s one that’s just brick on Brimmer Street:


Here’s one with an accessibility plate on Revere Street:


Why wouldn’t the city just use these already existing models instead, and save the time and money spent on court challenges? Even the Rascal King his very own self lost when he took on Beacon Hill’s brick sidewalks.

Of course, if it were up to me, I would all the brick and concrete, and replace it with this squishy stuff (on the right), since it’s really comfortable to walk on (right now, it’s used where tree roots prevent paving)…


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5 Responses to A Bizarre Boston Sidewalk Ramp Clash

  1. georgewiman says:

    Those rubber accessibility plates can be slippery when wet. At least, I slipped on one this week. Brick gives more reliable grip for my dough.

  2. AndrewD says:

    The crossings in the UK have a knobbly approach and access similar to photo 2. This is to give the visually impaired guidance as to where the crossings are. It is my impression that the US is well behind Europe in disability access.

  3. georgewiman says:

    (Googles better late than never) Oh! The bumps are a tactile cue! I didn’t think of that. I thought they were for grip.

  4. Brick sidewalks, at least in the faux olde fashioned installations I’ve experienced, are very slippery in the winter. Difficult to remove the snow and ice.

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