Because I’m mostly housebound, and a newer user of wheels, I have limited experience navigating Ithaca. But so far, my experiences have been disappointing. If you have first hand information to share, please be in touch at chronicallyrebecca at gmail dot com.
Here’s a blog on accessible places in Ithaca by Ashley and Patrick Bohn at the Visit Ithaca site.
Starting in a slowly expanding radius from my Fall Creek home, the sidewalks are a hot mess. I have attempted to navigate them on both a four-wheeled mobility scooter, and in a power chair. I have contacted the City of Ithaca, Downtown Ithaca, and the Finger Lakes Independence Center with a request for a map or other information about accessible routes downtown. No one has been able to provide such a thing.
It is worth noting, that responsibility for sidewalk maintenance has not been the purview of the city for very long. It used to be the responsibility of the property owner. Now that has changed, the city is working through a plan with their sidewalk improvement districts. It is also worth noting that snow removal *is* the responsibility of the property owner, which means that the sidewalks are even more of a disaster if it has snowed, and the curb cuts at intersections should be assumed to be totally impassable. Even if they were cleared by the property owner, the city comes through and plows them all back in, over and over again, usually full of ice.
Businesses I can access
- Greenstar DeWitt: The front entrance is inaccessible, there is a step up. The entrance from inside DeWitt Mall is clunky, but doable. The check out counters are dropped. Getting in an out of DeWitt Mall is a little tricky, but also doable. There is a steep ramp up from the Buffalo Street side of the building, and alternately, a winding brick pathway that begins directly next to that entrance and goes into the building. The grade on that entrance is much better, but the bricks are a little slanty, and there is no button for the door.
- Home Green Home: There is a long ramp built into the floor from the entrance into the floor of the store. There is a dropped counter at the register. I found a few of the aisles to be a bit tight, but other spaces to be generous.
- Mockingbird Paperie: They don’t have a door button, so that’s a little tricky. The shop occupies two storefronts. in the front of the shop, they are connected by a step. But in the back of the shop they are connected by a beautiful sloped wooden floor. The checkout counter is not lowered.
- Brain Shoppe: just opened on the Commons. I have not yet been, but I messaged them and they state they are wheelchair accessible.
Businesses I cannot access
- Alley Cat Cafe: 6/2018 I confirmed that there are stairs in front of the building and no alternate wheelchair entrance. They stated they have investigated, but there isn’t enough space for a ramp. Their website says nothing about accessibility.
- Buffalo Street Books: The lip at both front and back entrances are too high for me to get over. I contacted them 6/2019 and asked them about getting threshold ramps. They said they were looking into it, and looking into making their doors easier to open. They messaged me again 7/10/19 to tell me they had spoken to building management.
- Fine Spirit Studio: Confirmed 5/2019 the space is not accessible by wheelchair. I recommended updating their sites with this information. As of 7/2019, the FB page has not been updated, but their web page does now clearly indicate the studio is on the second floor and there is no elevator in the building.
- Sacred Root Kava Lounge and Tea Bar: The entrance is down a flight of steps, with no alternate access. 9/2018, I confirmed this and asked them to update their FB and web pages with this information. They have not done so as of 7/2019. This is a popular space for many “progressive” gatherings.
- Bar Argos at Argos Inn: I recently saw an event listed at Argos. I messaged them on Facebook 7/2/2019 asking about wheelchair accessibility for the first floor and bar (the front entrance is stairs, but I don’t remember what else is going on with the building. The message was seen, but I got no response. I followed up with a second message 7/12/19, which was seen that day. No response as of yet. The event has already passed.