A curb cut (U.S.), curb ramp, dropped kerb (UK), pram ramp, or kerb ramp (Australia) is a solid (usually concrete) ramp graded down from the top surface of a sidewalk to the surface of an adjoining street. It is designed for pedestrian uses and commonly found in urban areas where pedestrian activity is expected. In comparison with a conventional curb (finished at a right angle 4–6 inches (10–15 cm) above the street surface) a curb cut is finished at an intermediate gradient that connects both surfaces, sometimes with tactile paving.
Historically speaking, footpaths were finished at right angles to the street surface with conventional curb treatments. By the 1970s, the introduction of curb cuts in the United States was pioneered by the disability rights leader Ed Roberts in Berkeley, California. Following this, the value of curb cuts was promoted more strongly and their instatement was often made on a voluntary basis by municipal authorities and developers.
More recently, curb cuts in Western countries have been mandated by legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) in the United States, which requires that curb cuts be present on all sidewalks. This was followed by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 in Australia. The legislative requirements have been increased from the original requirements in recent times, to the point where existing treatments can now fail to meet the most recent design requirements.
Supporters of the requirements point to curb cuts as an example of legislation that benefits every user of public spaces, even though the law was aimed at people with disabilities.
Users and uses
Curb cuts placed at street intersections allow someone in a wheelchair, on a toddler's tricycle etc., to move onto or off a sidewalk without difficulty. A pedestrian using a walker or cane, pushing a stroller or buggy, pushing or pulling a cart or walking next to a bicycle also benefits from a curb cut.
It can also be used by someone on a bicycle, roller skates, skateboard, etc., as well as by a delivery person using a dolly.
Other curb cuts
A wider curb cut is also useful for motor vehicles to enter a driveway or parking lot on the other side of a sidewalk.
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