Carlisle Needs Better Accessibility Options

Carlisle is filled with things to do. Walking in Carlisle, you’re bound to see local and chain restaurants, family shops and at least one person dressed up outside the Cumberland County Courthouse. However, when you look down instead of around you, you begin to see the unevenness that causes you to trip every other step. You begin to see the narrow sidewalks and the sudden drops. When you begin to recognize what accessibility is, you are able to see just how inaccessible Carlisle’s public streets are.


Take Pomfret Street for example: it’s about a 15 minute walk from campus. It is also the most inaccessible sidewalk I have ever seen. It has high drops (that require ramps by ADA guidelines), is filled with cracks in every square, is on an angle, is extremely narrow (narrower than the ADA’s guidelines of 3ft across) and the list continues. Basically, it is a surefire way for mobility aids to get broken. Almost 11% of Carlisle residents are disabled according to, so this main sidewalk being inaccessible is an issue.


When Sam Ritschel ’26 and I went to an appointment in town, we had no option but to take this street. While together, her scooter suffered high drops and low divots, narrow spacing and at times she was unsure if she could even continue on the sidewalk because we were both afraid her scooter would get stuck. There were whole chunks of the sidewalk missing, making this trip way more dangerous for Ritschel than it needed to be. This sidewalk is a simple public space, but it is inaccessible to a tenth of Carlisle residents. 


I attempted to call Carlisle Borough twice, and so far there has been no answer. While the Borough may not mean to put the safety of Carlisle’s disabled citizens at risk, fixing the problems in town does not seem like their top priority. To be an actual advocate for disabled people, call the Borough and tell them that they are violating the ADA’s requirements. The ADA requires all sidewalks to be paved with a smooth and durable material and have usable curb ramps which need to be updated with every new paving. They require opening grates to be less than half an inch across and any curb ramp needs to be at least 36 inches. When there is construction, these rules still need to be observed, and accommodations must be made. To improve these public spaces for Carlisle citizens, we need to take action. ADA requirements that are unenforced are simply not enough, there needs to be pressure from the people.