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On a Roll

By Paul Bendix

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About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

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Wheelchair City

Uploaded: Nov 18, 2013
Wheelchair access...well, it's also about strollers...even pedestrians wandering neighborhoods after dark. It's in everyone's interest to make our town accessible. It's also in everyone's budget, since tax dollars pay for it.

So how is wheelchair access in Menlo Park? Mixed.

First, let us commend the city's cement grinders. They have smoothed many of the tree-root tilted sidewalks downtown. Still, some of the worst concrete peaks remain. A few perilous cracks are painted hazard orange. In my wheelchair I avoid portions of Roble Avenue and Live Oak.

The key to rolling Menlo Park safely at night: a high-intensity light. My last wheelchair had a Volkswagen headlight. My newest has two marine lamps. After dark it's not safe to bounce along the city's cracked sidewalks.

If there are sidewalks. In parts of town "the sidewalk ends," and not with Shel Silverstein's whimsy. Try rolling a wheelchair west on Santa Cruz Ave., leaving downtown for residential neighborhoods. Portions of our main thoroughfare have sidewalks. Others don't. The reasons are unclear, but the effects are obvious...forcing wheelchairs onto the pavement.

Crosswalk traffic signals are important to anyone. In a wheelchair they are essential. Unfortunately, some buttons are out of reach at key intersections on El Camino.

Overall, wheelchair access is fairly good in Menlo Park. For little or no expenditure, it could be much better.

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