Skip to Content

Crowded sidewalks present more city barriers

In some places, city streets have become so crowded that people with vision and mobility problems are almost at a standstill.

During the pandemic, restaurants were allowed – even encouraged – to expand outside dining onto sidewalks. But wheelchair users and others who rely on scooters, canes, walkers and service animals can have a hard time squeezing by tables, chairs, customers, servers, bussers and sandwich boards.

Sometimes curb cuts are blocked by expanded dining, and where the handicapped parking used to be now sit dining “parklets” where drinks and meals are served.

City permits outline how much room is required around tables and the clearance for wheelchair access on sidewalks and ramps. But activists complain about lax enforcement.

Blocked sidewalks are the latest entry on a long list of customer grievances, which include restaurant door entrances, inadequate space between tables, and a lack of ADA-compliant bathrooms.

What’s happening in your downtown? Are people with disabilities having a harder time navigating the streets?

More Information:

Washington Post:

The Counter:



By Susan LoTempio​, board member, National Center on Disability and Journalism

Contact @susanlotempio or via email at