Are ADA Docks taking over your region?

I’m feeling kinda strange here in mid-Michigan. There’s a metal seasonal ADA kayak launch mechanism that every community is going koo-koo for. It’s a nifty device, and I see a role for them. But these are places that have never lifted a finger to promote or assist paddling otherwise. It makes me rub my eyes. It’s like the only way to get $ or interest for paddling is if it’s for the handicapped demographic. It seems like a 100% to 0% ratio around here. I feel like I’m on another planet – a common feeling around here.

Otherwise sedentary administrators become paddling fans as soon as they can install this hospital-like apparatus down on our natural riverbanks. Maybe doing anything to acknowledge the greatness of regular paddling for everybody would make them feel guilty as sedentary people? Recreation money can only go to the disabled? Is it like this where you live?

Yes, serve the disabled. But what about the public? Right now the vast portion of our paddling community is “served” by “muddy banks” on every waterway – zero attention, care, time, PR, installation or maintenance. …And, no surprise, nearly nil usage! We have 2 good put-in’s in a hundred miles of river.

Instead of doing something as minimal as making sure the rivers are navigable our municipalities are RUSHING to install these metal ADA docks, which have to be removed seasonally. Offhand, I’d think 3 basic gravel and timber put-in’s could be installed for the cost of every ADA dock.

Yet there hasn’t been a new put-in installed (or maintained) in our region in decades. It’s like paddling didn’t exist until the ADA dock came along – now they’re front and center!

We still don’t hear about plans to maintain navigability. Our second-biggest river, and one right among most of the population, is totally ignored because of dozens of annual treefalls. Instead of treating the river like a park trail and keeping it clear it’s abandoned! Why, how could we put an ADA dock there? Head slap!

The paddle community is hardly asked about these docks, that I know of. (A plastic kayak livery was asked, that’s it. Not local paddlers, that I’ve heard.) They’re even planning to put them on narrow, floody waterways where they won’t last a season.

How are they for canoes? for nicer boats? for kevlar hulls?

Then there’s natural beauty and environmental friendliness. Does a shiny silver metal and plastic dock fit in with all quiet park riverbank settings?

Yeah, politics is goofy – but is it the same everywhere? Are all communities installing these now, more than any other type of facility?

I like innovation. They’re a nifty gadget. Maybe I’d find them easy to use. But are they first and best use of money to promote paddling? Offhand, I can see installing one of these for every 10 regular put-in’s, and in places suitable for looped-travel – so you don’t need a second one downstream. Here’n’there at public beaches perhaps, where equipment is already being removed seasonally.

…But maybe I’m missing something. Maybe they’re great for all kinds of paddling and it’s better having a few of these than a bunch of regular put-in’s. ???

It’s been great for our area. It has caused many municipalities to upgrade their launch/dock/pier facilities as a side effect. I mean, while you’re installing ADA stuff, it’s not a big leap to build a new dock, smooth out the launch, put in a toilet, etc.

It’s a whole lot easier to get grant money if you design to ADA standards. The same goes for municipal buildings… I don’t see you grousing about that. For municipalities it may be a requirement…
Be happy that you are young and elite. When you are my age and want to paddle I hope all that faces you are mud banks. Then you will have wisdom.

Take a look at the demographic every time someone asks here, or even many beginning whitewater classes… Newer paddlers are older paddlers than they were a couple of decades ago. The best way to get awareness for the rivers is to get people on them in paddle craft, and the ADA docks often make it easier to get money for that access to start with. They are just fine on nice boats by the way, especially compared to a traditional boat ramp that tends to be slippery as heck below the waterline after some years of use.

Hopefully they’re also being used to get disabled vets out on the water.

Government entities have a duty to make things ADA compliant since 1990. It has just taken a while to get around to boat launch facilities.

_"ADA Title II: State and Local Government Activities

Title II covers all activities of State and local governments regardless of the government entity’s size or receipt of Federal funding. Title II requires that State and local governments give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services, and activities (e.g. public education, employment, transportation,**** recreation****, health care, social services, courts, voting, and town meetings)."_

That’s why so many handicap parking spots are showing up at boat ramp parking lots. That is also why many Florida state parks are installing handicap ramps to the launch area. It is great for kayak carts. That portage carry stuff is fine for y’all but not us senior … experienced citizens.

We’ve been after the agency that manages our local lake for a few years to improve access for paddlers at the “no wake” end of the lake. Their response so far has been that nothing can be done without including ADA compliant access. Nothing has been done yet - so, no…it is not the same everywhere.

On Long Island we have the Blueway Trail. Be careful on launches with rollers and composite boats. I cracked or fractured my CD Extreme when coming back out. I was leery of it to start with. No other place to launch. Coming back kayak got a point it was all on one roller and I heard some horrible noises. Going out I was able to keep my weight off the hull by pushing up. Pulling up rollers and it got to a pivot point where I couldn’t keep some weight hull.

A similar ‘priority’ thing happened here in my little town. I live near a nice park with wooded walking trails. Some well-meaning soul in government decided to install 15 butt-ugly monstrosities along the trails. The only thing I know to call them are ‘music stands’. These are very sturdy and stout; set in concrete. Under the plexiglass on the top of these music stands are pages from a book. I guess if you’re learning to read you can go from ugly thing to ugly thing and read or be read to. I’d estimate that 5% of park visitors appreciate these things and the other 95% find them completely out of place. Maybe it’s best I not know how much they cost.

I am only able to find 2 anywhere near us, both on a river in a neighboring county.
Kayak friendly access, handicapped or not would be a step forward.

We include accessibility in our project design. …But we’re not in favor of having one product drive our regional project. …My main point is that we’re noticing that one product IS driving all of the easiest spending – even though it’s only suitable for about 1/10th of the locations.

(These particular ADA solutions are NOT mandated. ADA requires inclusion to a reasonable extent, where it can be reasonably done.)

I have never seen one in Arizona. The Game & Fish people DO make beaches here and there for paddlers but generally, a lot of the places to launch are where some fisherman pulled weeds close to where he could beach or a rocky shore.

@JeffOYB said:
We include accessibility in our project design. …But we’re not in favor of having one product drive our regional project. …My main point is that we’re noticing that one product IS driving all of the easiest spending – even though it’s only suitable for about 1/10th of the locations.

(These particular ADA solutions are NOT mandated. ADA requires inclusion to a reasonable extent, where it can be reasonably done.)

Population density most likely has some bearing. Much larger tax base in southern and mid-Michigan than up here.
ADA Title II also provides: “Public entities are not required to take actions that would result in undue financial and administrative burdens.”

I found but one ADA boating access in northern Michigan (which I define as north of Grayling). It’s in the Alpena Wildlife Preserve and is labeled as offering “universal accessibility.”

Northern Michigan now has two:

Located at the tip of Elk Lake. I wonder how they will keep waterfowl from fouling it.

Nobody is giving grant money for non-compliant facilities, meaning local governments have to pay for them. They can get grants to pay for the ADA launches. Simple math. Fortunately, those can be used by able-bodied people as well. Of course, so can mud banks. People who don’t like mud probably shouldn’t paddle. My personal approach is this-if my local governments don’t have money to build recreational facilities that I myself want, I join local groups that build those facilities. I’ve never worked with one that builds launch sites, but have volunteered hundreds of hours with National Parks and local trails councils. As an able-bodied person fortunate enough to be involved in outdoor sports, I don’t feel government is there to pay for my recreational needs.