A friend and I were walking the Hip Strip the other night and encountered a man in a wheelchair struggling to navigate the cracked sidewalk corner of Higgins and Third. He told us he'd complained to the city about the spot, to no avail.
I helped him over the dilapidated curb and pushed him across the street, also in sorry shape, to the bridge so he could make his way downtown.
It occurred to my friend and I that accessibility issues are rarely considered if you have the luxury of walking places. You don't always notice a buckled sidewalk slab or pavement in serious neglect. Those things can be significant obstacles for someone in a wheelchair.
Of all the places in Missoula that should accommodate those with mobility impairments, the Hip Strip and its approach to the Higgins Bridge seem like obvious priorities — a major artery into downtown business and services.
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For a city that touts its livability and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, the mangled mess on Third and Higgins is an egregious example of neglect.