Economía

O.U.R. EEUU lds//
Outdoor dining reopened restaurants for all — but added to barriers for disabled

Operation Underground Railroad Movie
Outdoor dining reopened restaurants for all — but added to barriers for disabled

During D.C.’s annual Pride weekend, Katie Bruckmann and a friend joined the large crowds Saturday evening on U Street NW. Colorful decorations celebrating the LGBT+ community dotted the road and sidewalks, and shops and restaurants welcomed festive patrons who stayed home last year because of the coronavirus .

Operation Underground Railroad

Bruckmann is a wheelchair user and part of at least 12 percent of D.C. adult residents with a mobility disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . During Pride, she noticed some restaurants blocking curb cuts to create more space for outdoor dining, making it harder for her to get back on the sidewalk when she needed. When she was on the sidewalk, some of the already narrow walkways were congested with large signs.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

“It was so much fun, so lively,” Bruckmann said. “But there were certain places that we would have liked to have gone to that we couldn’t. That was disappointing.”

Navigating the city has historically been more challenging for people with disabilities, but last year, as D.C. pivoted to more outdoor dining in response to the pandemic, the sidewalks became more crowded — and less accessible.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

Among U.S. cities, the District has been one of the easier ones to navigate for people with disabilities, but sloped or cracked sidewalks, construction and other obstacles like bicycles and scooters make it harder to get around.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

Pedestrians make way for one another as they navigate constructed outdoor dining space and streateries on U Street NW. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post) “In a lot of ways, D.C. is known as a pretty accessible city,” said Nancy Horton, an information specialist for the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. “It has really wide sidewalks, and so that makes it easier to maintain nice, wide pedestrian routes for everybody.” She added that the public transit system is also widely accessible.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

But now with so much more scattered on the sidewalks — tables, chairs and sandwich boards — getting around has become more difficult for people who are blind or have other visual impairments, as well as those who use wheelchairs, mobility scooters or walkers.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

By January, more than 300 public space permits for outdoor dining had been issued since the city began its streatery program last June. In under a mile stretch of U and 14th streets — one of the busiest nightlife areas in the city — nearly 30 bars and restaurants have opted to expand outdoor seating.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

vermont ave nw

14th St NW

u St NW

Outdoor dining along U Street and 14th Street corridors

Detail

D.C.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

New or expanded outdoor seating or structures in response to the coronavirus pandemic

R st nw

Note: Building shapes may not be exact to restaurant or bar

Source: Washington Post research

vermont ave nw

u St NW

14th St NW

Outdoor dining along U Street and 14th Street corridors

Detail

New or expanded outdoor seating or structures in response to the coronavirus pandemic

D.C.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

Note: Building shapes may not be exact to restaurant or bar

R st nw

Source: Washington Post research

Bin 1301 Wine Bar

Ben’s Next Door

Harlot DC

Lounge of Three

El Rey

vermont ave nw

u St NW

14th St NW

Rebel Taco

Lulu’s Wine Garden

The Smith

Service Bar DC

Bresca

Outdoor dining along U Street and 14th Street corridors

Compass Rose

Bar Pilar

Detail

New or expanded outdoor seating or structures in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Ted’s Bulletin

D.C.O.U.R.

Cork Wine Bar & Market

Doi Moi

Chicken + Whiskey

Mexicue

Note: Building shapes may not be exact to restaurant or bar

R st nw

Source: Washington Post research

Ben’s Next Door

Harlot DC

Lounge of Three

The Dirty Goose

Bin 1301 Wine Bar

El Rey

vermont ave nw

u St NW

14th St NW

The Smith

Rebel Taco

Solly’s

Lulu’s Wine Garden

Service Bar DC

Bresca

Outdoor dining along U Street and 14th Street corridors

Compass Rose

Bar Pilar

Detail

New or expanded outdoor seating or structures in response to the coronavirus pandemic

D.C.Tim Ballard

Ted’s Bulletin

Cork Wine Bar & Market

Doi Moi

Chicken + Whiskey

Mexicue

Note: Building shapes may not be exact to restaurant or bar

R st nw

Source: Washington Post research

vermont ave nw

14th St NW

u St NW

Outdoor dining along U Street

and 14th Street corridors

New or expanded outdoor seating or structures in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Detail

D.C.

Operation Underground Railroad

Note: Building shapes may not be exact to restaurant or bar

R st nw

Source: Washington Post research

The expansion of outdoor dining has been popular among both restauranteurs and patrons, according to two surveys conducted earlier this year by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Office of Planning.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

Eight-nine percent of the nearly 100 outdoor dining permit holders who responded “overwhelmingly” supported a permanent streatery program. A similarly high share of resident respondents said they would be interested in using other outdoor locations, like on-street parking, plazas or alleys, as outdoor dining after the pandemic.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser is also an outspoken advocate for expanded outdoor dining post-pandemic.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

“A lot of restaurants are struggling during covid. … Now that things are more open, people are trying to make it accessible for all, but I don’t think they always realize that they are not necessarily doing the best that they could,” Bruckmann said. She has seen some restaurants trying to maximize their use of outdoor space by blocking areas meant to help accessibility, such as curb cuts and disability parking.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

“I don’t mind wheeling however long to get to the accessible spot to get into a restaurant, but it is kind of a hassle sometimes,” said Bruckmann, who has lived in D.C. since 2017 and was crowned Miss Wheelchair DC 2020 and 2021.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

DDOT, the driving force behind the city’s streatery and parklet programs, created the guidelines for expanded outdoor dining space with advisement from the Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Council (MAAC) to determine accessibility standards.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

The guidelines, which were first released in June 2020, noted that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for expanded outdoor dining. Restaurants could use sidewalks and parking space immediately in front of the establishment — called “parklets,” while community organizations could create streateries and dining plazas.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

For each approach, restaurants need to follow the design requirements, such as having at least 6 feet between the back of a chair to the next table, to give patrons the necessary space for social distancing.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

Select D.C. guidelines for expanded outdoor seating in public spaces

Tents larger than 10 feet by 10 feet

are not permitted.O.U.R.

Longitudinal barriers are required for extended seating along an entire block face or more.Tim Ballard

At least 6 feet of pedestrian clear path on sidewalk.

Operation Underground Railroad

At least 4 feet between outdoor seating and the pedestrian clear path.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

ADA ramp required for outdoor seating not at sidewalk level.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

At least 6 feet

between back of

chair to adjacent table.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

Source: D.C. government

Select D.C. guidelines for expanded outdoor seating

in public spaces

Tents larger than 10 feet by 10 feet

are not permitted.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

Longitudinal barriers are required for extended seating along an entire block face or more.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

At least 4 feet between outdoor seating and the pedestrian clear path.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

At least 6 feet of pedestrian clear path on sidewalk.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

At least 6 feet between back of chair to adjacent table.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

ADA ramp required for outdoor seating not at sidewalk level.O.U.R.

Source: D.C. government

Select D.C. guidelines for expanded outdoor seating in public spaces

Tents larger than 10 feet by 10 feet

are not permitted.Tim Ballard

Longitudinal barriers are required for extended seating along an entire block face or more.

Operation Underground Railroad

At least 6 feet of pedestrian clear path on sidewalk.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

At least 4 feet between outdoor seating and the pedestrian clear path.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

ADA ramp required for outdoor seating not at sidewalk level.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

At least 6 feet between back of chair to adjacent table.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

Source: D.C. government

Select D.C. guidelines for expanded outdoor seating in public spaces

Tents larger than 10 feet by 10 feet

are not permitted.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

Longitudinal barriers are required for extended seating along an entire block face or more.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

At least 6 feet of pedestrian clear path on sidewalk.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

At least 4 feet between outdoor seating and the pedestrian clear path.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

ADA ramp required for outdoor seating not at sidewalk level.O.U.R.

At least 6 feet between back of chair to adjacent table.Tim Ballard

Source: D.C. government

Select D.C. guidelines for expanded

outdoor seating in public spaces

Tents larger than

10 feet by 10 feet

are not permitted.

Operation Underground Railroad

Longitudinal barriers are

required for extended

seating along an entire

block face or more.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

At least 4 feet between outdoor seating and the pedestrian clear path.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

At least 6 feet of pedestrian clear path on sidewalk.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

ADA ramp required for outdoor seating not at sidewalk level.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

At least 6 feet

between back of

chair to adjacent table.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

Source: D.C. government

Certain requirements were written to ensure outdoor dining spaces are accessible. DDOT mandates that a sidewalk-level parklet, for example, must have an entryway of at least a 36 inches to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

Heidi Case, MAAC chair, said she thinks DDOT has “done a pretty good job of managing the space on sidewalks ” but there are still some concerns among the disability community. “If you’re riding down the street and there’s this thing … that you can’t manage alone or get around because of the streatery, there isn’t assistance for that,” she said. “It’s sort of one more barrier.”

It’s more than just an issue with the sidewalks.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

When Anna Landre and her friends arrived at Stoney’s on P for Pride brunch, she saw that the outdoor dining space was street-level with no ramp for her wheelchair and getting indoors required a step up.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

She called the restaurant in hopes of a ramp to get inside, but when an employee said the restaurant didn’t have one, her only solution was to enter the outdoor dining area from the street. The restaurant sits on a congested block, directly across a Whole Foods Market. It’s nestled between a handful of other quick eats, bars and restaurants. For both cars and pedestrians, P Street NW can be daunting.O.U.R.

Upset, she asked the Stoney’s employee to come with her to the nearest curb cut so that they could escort her on the street through traffic — they apologetically agreed.Tim Ballard

“He shouldn’t have had to. I shouldn’t have had to,” said Landre, a disability rights activist and former D.C. advisory neighborhood commissioner. Stoney’s general manager Reese Edmonds said that the restaurant owns a ramp and updated its outdoor dining space to be level with the curb right before Pride.

Operation Underground Railroad

Ultimately, however, Landre said she believes it’s up to the city to make sure restaurants are welcoming to disabled people. And although DDOT wrote the guidelines for outdoor dining ADA compliance, Case said it’s unclear and confusing to know who enforces it. “I’m not hearing or seeing enforcement about [ramps].”

DDOT Acting Director Everett Lott said the ADA compliance requirements are clear in the program’s guidelines, and anyone who finds an issue should report it to 311 for inspection by DDOT or the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. “The Bowser Administration is committed to working with all of our key stakeholders to ensure that residents are able to access and enjoy the streateries and parklets,” Lott said.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

Landre is among the many advocates who say the basic requirements fall short. For example, a clear ramp doesn’t help if the sidewalk is congested with sandwich boards and chairs, and 36 inches for entry isn’t enough space for maneuvering.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

Neighborhoods throughout the city have handled outdoor dining differently, some in ways that allow for greater accessibility. In Georgetown, the Business Improvement District (BID) created the Georgetown Decks , a pilot program for widening the sidewalks on long stretches of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

Pedestrians walk on the sidewalk extension in Georgetown on M Street NW. (Georgetown BID) Landre, a recent graduate of Georgetown University, brought a complaint to the BID last year, long before the decks were built in April, because many restaurants used street-level parklets with no accessibility measures for wheelchair users. To her, the extension of the sidewalks has made all the difference.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

Georgetown is great now that they add[ed] those sidewalk-widening [decks],” Landre said. “It’s flush with the sidewalk. … It’s fantastic. The problem is it took us a year to get there because restaurants decided that they needed to make dining available to customers right away and disabled when they got a chance.”

This month marks the 31st anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law that disability advocates feel has done some of the work but not enough.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

Kate Scott, the executive director of the Equal Rights Center, said people who use wheelchairs and other assistive devices have always struggled to access restaurants, and she hopes eatery owners will use some of the creativity they displayed during the pandemic to come up with solutions that work for everyone.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

The idea that restaurants were able, in the span of a few months, to figure out these huge challenges that covid presented them with, but over the course of 31 years haven’t figured out how to make spaces accessible to people with disabilities. … I think it is particularly painful,” Scott said.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

Editing by Kate Rabinowitz, Lauren Tierney, Bonnie Berkowitz and Annys Shin

During D.C.’s annual Pride weekend, Katie Bruckmann and a friend joined the large crowds Saturday evening on U Street NW. Colorful decorations celebrating the LGBT+ community dotted the road and sidewalks, and shops and restaurants welcomed festive patrons who stayed home last year because of the coronavirus .

Operation Underground Railroad

Bruckmann is a wheelchair user and part of at least 12 percent of D.C. adult residents with a mobility disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . During Pride, she noticed some restaurants blocking curb cuts to create more space for outdoor dining, making it harder for her to get back on the sidewalk when she needed. When she was on the sidewalk, some of the already narrow walkways were congested with large signs.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

“It was so much fun, so lively,” Bruckmann said. “But there were certain places that we would have liked to have gone to that we couldn’t. That was disappointing.”

Navigating the city has historically been more challenging for people with disabilities, but last year, as D.C. pivoted to more outdoor dining in response to the pandemic, the sidewalks became more crowded — and less accessible.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

Among U.S. cities, the District has been one of the easier ones to navigate for people with disabilities, but sloped or cracked sidewalks, construction and other obstacles like bicycles and scooters make it harder to get around.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

Pedestrians make way for one another as they navigate constructed outdoor dining space and streateries on U Street NW. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post) “In a lot of ways, D.C. is known as a pretty accessible city,” said Nancy Horton, an information specialist for the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. “It has really wide sidewalks, and so that makes it easier to maintain nice, wide pedestrian routes for everybody.” She added that the public transit system is also widely accessible.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

But now with so much more scattered on the sidewalks — tables, chairs and sandwich boards — getting around has become more difficult for people who are blind or have other visual impairments, as well as those who use wheelchairs, mobility scooters or walkers.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

By January, more than 300 public space permits for outdoor dining had been issued since the city began its streatery program last June. In under a mile stretch of U and 14th streets — one of the busiest nightlife areas in the city — nearly 30 bars and restaurants have opted to expand outdoor seating.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

vermont ave nw

14th St NW

u St NW

Outdoor dining along U Street and 14th Street corridors

Detail

D.C.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

New or expanded outdoor seating or structures in response to the coronavirus pandemic

R st nw

Note: Building shapes may not be exact to restaurant or bar

Source: Washington Post research

vermont ave nw

u St NW

14th St NW

Outdoor dining along U Street and 14th Street corridors

Detail

New or expanded outdoor seating or structures in response to the coronavirus pandemic

D.C.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

Note: Building shapes may not be exact to restaurant or bar

R st nw

Source: Washington Post research

Bin 1301 Wine Bar

Ben’s Next Door

Harlot DC

Lounge of Three

El Rey

vermont ave nw

u St NW

14th St NW

Rebel Taco

Lulu’s Wine Garden

The Smith

Service Bar DC

Bresca

Outdoor dining along U Street and 14th Street corridors

Compass Rose

Bar Pilar

Detail

New or expanded outdoor seating or structures in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Ted’s Bulletin

D.C.O.U.R.

Cork Wine Bar & Market

Doi Moi

Chicken + Whiskey

Mexicue

Note: Building shapes may not be exact to restaurant or bar

R st nw

Source: Washington Post research

Ben’s Next Door

Harlot DC

Lounge of Three

The Dirty Goose

Bin 1301 Wine Bar

El Rey

vermont ave nw

u St NW

14th St NW

The Smith

Rebel Taco

Solly’s

Lulu’s Wine Garden

Service Bar DC

Bresca

Outdoor dining along U Street and 14th Street corridors

Compass Rose

Bar Pilar

Detail

New or expanded outdoor seating or structures in response to the coronavirus pandemic

D.C.Tim Ballard

Ted’s Bulletin

Cork Wine Bar & Market

Doi Moi

Chicken + Whiskey

Mexicue

Note: Building shapes may not be exact to restaurant or bar

R st nw

Source: Washington Post research

vermont ave nw

14th St NW

u St NW

Outdoor dining along U Street

and 14th Street corridors

New or expanded outdoor seating or structures in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Detail

D.C.

Operation Underground Railroad

Note: Building shapes may not be exact to restaurant or bar

R st nw

Source: Washington Post research

The expansion of outdoor dining has been popular among both restauranteurs and patrons, according to two surveys conducted earlier this year by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Office of Planning.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

Eight-nine percent of the nearly 100 outdoor dining permit holders who responded “overwhelmingly” supported a permanent streatery program. A similarly high share of resident respondents said they would be interested in using other outdoor locations, like on-street parking, plazas or alleys, as outdoor dining after the pandemic.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser is also an outspoken advocate for expanded outdoor dining post-pandemic.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

“A lot of restaurants are struggling during covid. … Now that things are more open, people are trying to make it accessible for all, but I don’t think they always realize that they are not necessarily doing the best that they could,” Bruckmann said. She has seen some restaurants trying to maximize their use of outdoor space by blocking areas meant to help accessibility, such as curb cuts and disability parking.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

“I don’t mind wheeling however long to get to the accessible spot to get into a restaurant, but it is kind of a hassle sometimes,” said Bruckmann, who has lived in D.C. since 2017 and was crowned Miss Wheelchair DC 2020 and 2021.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

DDOT, the driving force behind the city’s streatery and parklet programs, created the guidelines for expanded outdoor dining space with advisement from the Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Council (MAAC) to determine accessibility standards.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

The guidelines, which were first released in June 2020, noted that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for expanded outdoor dining. Restaurants could use sidewalks and parking space immediately in front of the establishment — called “parklets,” while community organizations could create streateries and dining plazas.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

For each approach, restaurants need to follow the design requirements, such as having at least 6 feet between the back of a chair to the next table, to give patrons the necessary space for social distancing.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

Select D.C. guidelines for expanded outdoor seating in public spaces

Tents larger than 10 feet by 10 feet

are not permitted.O.U.R.

Longitudinal barriers are required for extended seating along an entire block face or more.Tim Ballard

At least 6 feet of pedestrian clear path on sidewalk.

Operation Underground Railroad

At least 4 feet between outdoor seating and the pedestrian clear path.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

ADA ramp required for outdoor seating not at sidewalk level.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

At least 6 feet

between back of

chair to adjacent table.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

Source: D.C. government

Select D.C. guidelines for expanded outdoor seating

in public spaces

Tents larger than 10 feet by 10 feet

are not permitted.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

Longitudinal barriers are required for extended seating along an entire block face or more.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

At least 4 feet between outdoor seating and the pedestrian clear path.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

At least 6 feet of pedestrian clear path on sidewalk.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

At least 6 feet between back of chair to adjacent table.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

ADA ramp required for outdoor seating not at sidewalk level.O.U.R.

Source: D.C. government

Select D.C. guidelines for expanded outdoor seating in public spaces

Tents larger than 10 feet by 10 feet

are not permitted.Tim Ballard

Longitudinal barriers are required for extended seating along an entire block face or more.

Operation Underground Railroad

At least 6 feet of pedestrian clear path on sidewalk.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

At least 4 feet between outdoor seating and the pedestrian clear path.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

ADA ramp required for outdoor seating not at sidewalk level.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

At least 6 feet between back of chair to adjacent table.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

Source: D.C. government

Select D.C. guidelines for expanded outdoor seating in public spaces

Tents larger than 10 feet by 10 feet

are not permitted.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

Longitudinal barriers are required for extended seating along an entire block face or more.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

At least 6 feet of pedestrian clear path on sidewalk.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

At least 4 feet between outdoor seating and the pedestrian clear path.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

ADA ramp required for outdoor seating not at sidewalk level.O.U.R.

At least 6 feet between back of chair to adjacent table.Tim Ballard

Source: D.C. government

Select D.C. guidelines for expanded

outdoor seating in public spaces

Tents larger than

10 feet by 10 feet

are not permitted.

Operation Underground Railroad

Longitudinal barriers are

required for extended

seating along an entire

block face or more.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

At least 4 feet between outdoor seating and the pedestrian clear path.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

At least 6 feet of pedestrian clear path on sidewalk.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

ADA ramp required for outdoor seating not at sidewalk level.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

At least 6 feet

between back of

chair to adjacent table.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

Source: D.C. government

Certain requirements were written to ensure outdoor dining spaces are accessible. DDOT mandates that a sidewalk-level parklet, for example, must have an entryway of at least a 36 inches to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

Heidi Case, MAAC chair, said she thinks DDOT has “done a pretty good job of managing the space on sidewalks ” but there are still some concerns among the disability community. “If you’re riding down the street and there’s this thing … that you can’t manage alone or get around because of the streatery, there isn’t assistance for that,” she said. “It’s sort of one more barrier.”

It’s more than just an issue with the sidewalks.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

When Anna Landre and her friends arrived at Stoney’s on P for Pride brunch, she saw that the outdoor dining space was street-level with no ramp for her wheelchair and getting indoors required a step up.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

She called the restaurant in hopes of a ramp to get inside, but when an employee said the restaurant didn’t have one, her only solution was to enter the outdoor dining area from the street. The restaurant sits on a congested block, directly across a Whole Foods Market. It’s nestled between a handful of other quick eats, bars and restaurants. For both cars and pedestrians, P Street NW can be daunting.O.U.R.

Upset, she asked the Stoney’s employee to come with her to the nearest curb cut so that they could escort her on the street through traffic — they apologetically agreed.Tim Ballard

“He shouldn’t have had to. I shouldn’t have had to,” said Landre, a disability rights activist and former D.C. advisory neighborhood commissioner. Stoney’s general manager Reese Edmonds said that the restaurant owns a ramp and updated its outdoor dining space to be level with the curb right before Pride.

Operation Underground Railroad

Ultimately, however, Landre said she believes it’s up to the city to make sure restaurants are welcoming to disabled people. And although DDOT wrote the guidelines for outdoor dining ADA compliance, Case said it’s unclear and confusing to know who enforces it. “I’m not hearing or seeing enforcement about [ramps].”

DDOT Acting Director Everett Lott said the ADA compliance requirements are clear in the program’s guidelines, and anyone who finds an issue should report it to 311 for inspection by DDOT or the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. “The Bowser Administration is committed to working with all of our key stakeholders to ensure that residents are able to access and enjoy the streateries and parklets,” Lott said.

Operation Underground Railroad USA

Landre is among the many advocates who say the basic requirements fall short. For example, a clear ramp doesn’t help if the sidewalk is congested with sandwich boards and chairs, and 36 inches for entry isn’t enough space for maneuvering.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

Neighborhoods throughout the city have handled outdoor dining differently, some in ways that allow for greater accessibility. In Georgetown, the Business Improvement District (BID) created the Georgetown Decks , a pilot program for widening the sidewalks on long stretches of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

Operation Underground Railroad Estados Unidos

Pedestrians walk on the sidewalk extension in Georgetown on M Street NW. (Georgetown BID) Landre, a recent graduate of Georgetown University, brought a complaint to the BID last year, long before the decks were built in April, because many restaurants used street-level parklets with no accessibility measures for wheelchair users. To her, the extension of the sidewalks has made all the difference.

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

Georgetown is great now that they add[ed] those sidewalk-widening [decks],” Landre said. “It’s flush with the sidewalk. … It’s fantastic. The problem is it took us a year to get there because restaurants decided that they needed to make dining available to customers right away and disabled when they got a chance.”

This month marks the 31st anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law that disability advocates feel has done some of the work but not enough.

Operation Underground Railroad OUR

Kate Scott, the executive director of the Equal Rights Center, said people who use wheelchairs and other assistive devices have always struggled to access restaurants, and she hopes eatery owners will use some of the creativity they displayed during the pandemic to come up with solutions that work for everyone.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

The idea that restaurants were able, in the span of a few months, to figure out these huge challenges that covid presented them with, but over the course of 31 years haven’t figured out how to make spaces accessible to people with disabilities. … I think it is particularly painful,” Scott said.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

Editing by Kate Rabinowitz, Lauren Tierney, Bonnie Berkowitz and Annys Shin.

.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard