San Diego Attractions

Wheelchair-friendly things to see and do.

Feb 042014

This is the cover for my new book. The art is a slightly modified version of one of my late wife's paintings.

This is the cover for my new book. The art is a slightly modified version of one of my late wife’s paintings.

My book, Rolling Back: Through a Life Disabled, has been published and is available as a Kindle version on Amazon. You don’t need a Kindle to read it, you can read it on any computer or any tablet for smart phone using the free Kindle app. Kindle owners who are Amazon Prime members can borrow it for free.

Rolling Back will be available as a paperback in a few weeks. Right now it is only in the Kindle format, but will be expanded to include other e-readers in three months. The price for the Kindle version is just $2.99. If cost is an issue I hope to be able to offer it free for five days on Amazon. When that happens, I will let everyone know.

Sep 242010

Preface: I am not an ADA “activist”, but I believe I can provide a constructive voice that just might help developers, architects and government officials fix access problems before they happen. So I will be writing about issues, both positive and negative, that I encounter around San Diego.

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When the San Diego Naval training Center was converted into Liberty Station, the original historic buildings became the NTC Promenade, an amazing new center for arts, culture, science and technology. I was president of the San Diego Watercolor Society at the time and we were thrilled to become part of this complex.

One of four access ramps at NTC Promenade

The Command Center at NTC Promenade has excellent access.

I was also very pleased that the developers of NTC Promenade were very conscious of accessibility issues. In fact, our building and the two others connected to it, shared four wheelchair ramps.
However, due to a combination of missed opportunities and the challenges of dealing with city and community organizations, there was one notable exception: to cross the 60-foot wide street next to our gallery (Dewey Road) and get to the studios on the other side required a wheelchair to travel nearly 1/4 mile and make three street crossings.
Barracks 19 as seen from SDWS

So near yet so far. A wheelchair must travel 1150 feet to cross this street.

When I brought this to the attention of the management of the NTC Promenade, their Director of Operations, Lew Witherspoon, invited me to meet with him to review the next phase of their expansion into the original barracks buildings so that this kind of problem could be avoided.
Before doing so, I took another look at the already completed portion of the barracks (not part of the NTC Promenade but part of the overall Liberty Station development), and discovered an even more unfortunate lack of access.
Existing Mall at Liberty Station

A seven hundred foot mall with no wheelchair access except at either end.

Running down the middle of the former barracks – now businesses and retail – is a beautiful mall more than two football fields long. Crossing the mall every hundred feet or so are sidewalks connecting the mall to buildings on either side. Those sidewalks end in steps that a wheelchair would not be able to negotiate.
Sidewalk from mall to Vons supermarket ends with high step.

Sidewalk from mall to supermarket ends with high step.

For me in a power chair, it was a simple matter to retrace my path and travel 200 yards to get to the supermarket from the mall. But if I were in a manual wheelchair it could be an exhausting problem. And if it was raining and the only shelter was blocked by a step, it would be very frustrating.
The really disturbing thing was when we took a tour of the future development of the NTC Promenade barracks buildings we saw the very same thing could happen.
Future Mall at NTC Promenade, San Diego

NTC Promenade north mall is also 700 feet long.

Fortunately, since the Operations Director had offered to include me in the planning, there is a better chance that the mistakes made in Liberty Station will not be repeated in the NTC Promenade.
It turns out the solution could be very simple.
Unfinished Walk at NTC Promenade showing 20 foot gap.

It's not to late to design this portion of NTC Promenade for accessibility.

Although the central part of the mall has already been landscaped and the sidewalks are in place, they end about 20 feet short of the raised sidewalks inside the archways of the barracks buildings. This gives room to slope the new sidewalk to meet the grade of the existing building walkways, at very little extra cost.
So thank you Lew Witherspoon of NTC Promenade for letting me represent the needs of the physically disabled community — before the concrete is poured!

Sep 072010

Welcome to Life! (disabled). And note the emphasis. Despite having a difficult disabling illness, I still find a lot of pleasure in living. Much of that pleasure stems from finding – and sharing – new ways to cope as my illness progresses. In this blog I will share some of the things Inclusion Body Myositis has taught me. I am not a medical professional, so please regard this information as personal observations and not medical opinion.