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This man sued Seattle for the right to cross the street

This story originally aired on March 23, 2019.

Conrad Reynoldson isn’t looking to go far. Specifically, he’d like to cross the residential stretch of NE 44th Street right next to his office. It’s about 15 feet.

Reynoldson lives with Muscular Dystrophy and navigates the world in a power chair, which makes that quick crossing a lot more complicated.


Like thousands of other intersections in Seattle, this one has no ramps cut into the curbs to make them wheelchair accessible. So Reynoldson has to take a right, maneuver around an inconveniently parked Lime bike, and roll a full block before a driveway provides an off-ramp. Then across the street it’s a left, and all the way back … to a spot about 15 feet from where he started. At the next intersection, the whole thing repeats.

For people with mobility issues, this is daily problem in Seattle. But Conrad happens to be an attorney, specializing in accessibility. So rather than just accept it, he took the city to court.

That lawsuit, brought by Reynoldson and Disability Rights Washington, resulted in a consent decree with the city, in which the city committed to installing 22,500 curb cuts over the next 18 years.

Reynoldson took Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer on a spin through his neighborhood, for a glimpse at the cityscape through his eyes.


Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.