Sunday, May 26, 2024

Wheelchair Accessibility in Coronado – Recent & Upcoming Improvements

Walkscore, a private company that provides a large-scale public walkability index for addresses within the US, Canada, and Australia assigns a numerical ‘walkability’ score out of a possible 100 to any location. Not surprisingly, Coronado achieves a walk score of 82 with accompanying descriptor: “most errands can be accomplished on foot.” The related bike score earns an equally high 73 out of 100, praised as “convenient for most trips.”

But on any given day in Coronado, the sidewalks, street corners, shops, public restrooms, beaches, parks, and thoroughfares are occupied not only by those on foot or bikes but also by neighbors and visitors who rely on wheelchairs to navigate the Crown City.

According to resident Stefan Freeman, owner of Coronado Street Sign, “Besides the weather (shhh, don’t tell anyone), one of the most appealing parts about Coronado is that it is mostly flat. Having the ability to push or roll anywhere on the island is a valuable thing for someone in a wheelchair.”

Coronado Sign Company Owner Stefan Freeman

Visitors to the city share a similar view. Bonnie Lewkowicz, Executive Director at Access Northern California and author of A Wheelchair Rider’s Guide to the California Coast, reviewed Coronado for its accessibility nearly eight years ago on, describing Orange Avenue as “downtown boutiques within easy rolling distance.” She noted Coronado Municipal Beach was “mostly accessible” and referenced the manual beach chair at the lifeguard tower. All in all, it could be concluded from her article that Coronado was ‘pretty good’ for wheelchair access.

But is ‘pretty good’ good enough? 

According to resident Sherril Altstadt, who moved to Coronado with her family in 2009, the intent to accommodate wheelchairs is evident but the execution is somewhat lacking. On a recent excursion to the boat ramp at Glorietta Bay for a kayaking outing, Sherril commended the availability of an on-site wheelchair, but unfortunately the tires were flat, there was no pump in sight, and staff (although willing) were somewhat ill-equipped to help. “Getting in is no problem, the terrain is flat and downhill – but getting out is up a hill of sand. I don’t want someone else ending up in a wheelchair trying to help me,” Sherril laughs. “But — it was really great that the city and staff were like ‘we got you’.”

Accessibility to the boat ramps is just one of the many improvements the city has made over the past year according to Coronado’s Active Transportation Planner, Allie Scrivener, who forwarded the following summary of recent and upcoming improvements intended for greater wheelchair accessibility:

  • ADA curb ramp upgrades along A, B, C, and G Avenues (expected completion: spring 2019)
  • John D. Spreckels Senior Center Restroom door push-button upgrades (completed: spring 2018)
  • Spreckels Park Restroom Project with two ADA-accessible stalls (spring 2017)
  • City Hall, Community Center, and Golf Club entrance push-button upgrades (expected completion: spring 2019)
  • ADA beach mats project (beach accessibility mats will be installed at Central, North, and Dog Beach; expected completion: spring 2019)
  • Boat Launch Ramp ADA segment allowing people with disabilities to board kayaks, etc (July 2017)
  • Ocean Blvd sidewalk enhancement study (evaluate potential street-level sidewalk modifications to improve safety, handicap access, and overall ease of travel for pedestrians on the west side of Ocean Blvd 2019)
  • Projects proposed in the Active Transportation Plan to improve the pedestrian environment including curb ramp upgrades, high-visibility crosswalk upgrades, curb extensions to facilitate crossing at Fourth and A, C, and Pomona (Design complete and awaiting an encroachment permit from Caltrans. Construction anticipated in Spring/Summer 2019)
Wheelchair Accessible Beach Mats in Coronado

The key to effective upgrades, however, is in consultation with its end users. Both Freeman and Altstadt are perplexed about the recent ‘upgrades’ to the crossings at 8th and Orange Avenue. “This design forces people to change their path. You can’t get onto the grass, and not even a bicycle can pass safely much less another wheelchair,” says Altstadt. “I wonder why the designers didn’t consult anyone about it – or for that matter, why they didn’t just recreate the design at 2nd and Orange which no one complains about.”

Despite Sherril’s analysis of areas that need improvement, she is overwhelmingly positive about the efforts to improve wheelchair accessibility in Coronado: “Mayor Bailey has been really responsive and every year there is more awareness. We are lucky in Coronado because if you want something done, you can get it done in this town. Having said that, I must add that access isn’t always about brick and mortar. I am 100% thrilled to be living in Coronado because of my fellow citizens with their open-mindedness and accommodating nature which helps shape my sense of being at home here.”


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