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City Throwing Ramp Requests into 311 Abyss

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So, you're in a wheelchair! Or you've just got a bad knee. Or you push a stroller, or a shopping cart, or a bike. The point is, if you need a curb ramp, the city wants to hear from you! Confidentiality guaranteed. In fact, confidentiality mandatory.

"Let us know where YOU need curb ramps," says a flier from the Department of Public Works, posted to Twitpic. To their credit, the DPW is aggressively installing new curb ramps all over the city -- we saw a couple of ramp renovations happen on Fulton over the course of the last few months (on a hill too steep for most wheelchairs).

But asking customers to submit their curb requests via the secretive 311 system is not super-ideal. Their motto might as well be a sarcastic, "thanks for the tip," followed by a slammed door. Good luck finding out who else is requesting ramps, and in what locations, and with what frequency: 311 takes all that data and squirrels it away. Sites like EveryBlock and SeeClickFix can gobble up municipal data and churn out useful maps; but not if an agency like 311 insists on hoarding the info.

So, if you're confined to a wheelchair and wondering if your requests are being heard (and your friends' requests, and your neighbors' requests): keep wondering. Because 311 will never tell.

· Curb Ramp Program [SF DPW]