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Imagine attending a completely pedestrian campus – without the ability to walk. What then?

Students with mobility disabilities may very well have heard last fall that CU would be closed to them when University of Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano said his vision for Boulder’s main campus was of closing the campus to cars.

While answering a question about pedestrian safety at the state-of-the-campus meeting, DiStefano said, “I would like to see this campus in the future not to have any cars … and be completely a pedestrian campus. We need to move to that because there are safety issues as we grow.”

DiStefano pitched the possibility of having off-campus parking and shuttles. He said he rode the bus to campus on days he didn’t have to drive to meetings in Denver or elsewhere. For people with disabilities, these ideas could prove to be very difficult. They may drive to campus in a vehicle modified for their disability or have difficulty getting on and off buses. Also, they may use electric wheelchairs, electric carts, scooters, crutches or walkers.

DiStefano didn’t have a detailed vision of where he’d like CU to go nor was there an official plan to ban cars on campus. However, with these statements, one has to wonder how the new “senior transportation fellow,” Kevin J. Krizek, will make CU’s transportation system sustainable.

CU’s transportation master plan includes a couple of suggestions that could work well for those with disabilities. One idea is to have an electronic space-count system to sense parking space availability. Another is to have a phone application where permit holders can reserve parking spaces or are directed to the closest ones available. These ideas could really save effort and steps for those with disabilities. Having a reserved parking space at particular times could also help.

Still, if the campus is closed to vehicles, distances may be too great to have any of these ideas bridge the gap for faculty, staff or students with disabilities. Krizek, and those who work with him, would do well to hear advice from actual people on campus with mobility disabilities. They will be empowered in finding solutions and the results could be much better than otherwise.

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