You may never have heard the term “curb cut” before, but you’ll see them at the entrances of many public spaces in the United States, from hotels to intersections to sidewalks. However, not all places have the essential street additions, which may prevent members of the public from getting where they need to go. Here’s a deeper dive into the definition and origins of curb cuts and why they need to be everywhere we walk.
Why Curb Cuts Are Important
What Are They?
Many standard curbs on American streets had a six-inch drop between the sidewalk and the road. To create curb cuts, paving contractors cut a small dip in a smooth line right before the entryway onto an intersection. This indentation creates a smooth slope similar to a small ramp that allows for easier and more efficient access to the street without the need to take a step down.
History of Curb Cuts
In the middle of the 20th century, there were virtually zero public amenities for those with physical disabilities, making it a challenge for people in wheelchairs or with canes to navigate sidewalks and other pathways safely and independently. As more disabled veterans returned from WWII in the 1940s and 1950s, people saw the need to take action to assist those who fought for our country. Through the relentless pursuits of many disability activists, this need was answered through the creation of the first curb cut, which was successfully paved in 1945 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
How Curb Cuts Benefit Everyone
Originally designed for those in wheelchairs, curb cuts have gone above and beyond their original intended use. Pedestrians who use rolling luggage, have weaker knees, or are walking with young children all benefit from them. This has transformed their role from an “assistive technology” to a commonplace necessity, making public spaces around the world easier to navigate and more accessible to everyone.
Curb cuts help everyone easily navigate public spaces like sidewalks and are a necessity in today’s world. No one knows that better than the professional pavers at Grey-Ruso Construction in College Point, NY. Family owned and operated for the past 35 years, they provide their local community with a wide range of paving and construction services. Learn how their team makes streets safer online, or call (718) 358-1836 for more information.