Group member Alisa Grishman uses the "My Burgh" app to report unsafe hazards like gravel ditches and tree roots lifting up cement on city sidewalks.

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s a group of Pittsburghers trying to make it easier to get around. They are a “friendly mob” hoping to improve our community, one dangerous sidewalk at a time.

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They call themselves the Access Mob Pittsburgh and their mission is to make the city safer.

Alisa Grishman keeps her eyes glued to the sidewalk.

She’s taking notes and snapping pictures, using the “My Burgh” app to report unsafe hazards like gravel ditches and tree roots lifting up cement to the city.

“Its terrible! It’s terrible! That’s not safe to get over,” Grishman says.

Her biggest complaint: cars parked on sidewalks.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Ian Smith)

“I think the best argument I heard was from a friend of mine who’s a lawyer who said, ‘Would you put a sign in the middle of the sidewalk saying, ‘white people only, Black people can’t cross this way.’ No, because it’s a Civil Rights violation. This is a Civil Rights violation just the same,” Grishman said. “It’s saying, ‘Able bodied people can go down the sidewalks, disabled people need to cross.’”

Grishman says she does have to cross a lot during her travels in the city. She says crossing risks both her safety and damage to her wheelchair.

“This is my freedom, you know? People use the term ‘wheelchair bound,’ ‘confined to a wheelchair’ as if this is a prison, this is the freedom I use, this tool. I use my wheelchair to get around,” she said.

Grishman leads Access Mob Pittsburgh – a group canvassing for tricky spots and businesses with access challenges.

Wendy Hoechstetter often uses another app called “Axs Maps.” Think of it as an accessibility report card for businesses. Disabled people all across Pittsburgh check it before checking out a new spot.

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“There’s business down in Lawrenceville that completely gut renovated the place, and I stopped by and talked to the owner. They were laying tile on the step, and I said, ‘You know, you have to put in a ramp,’ and they didn’t. I can’t go in that business,” she said.

That’s why Access Mob uses technology to flag unsafe spots. Now, their effort is stretching beyond the city – into Dormont.

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Bernadette Mosey first called KDKA about the sidewalk at Pioneer and West Liberty Avenues.

“We saw your news story about the trouble with this particular sidewalk,” Dormont Council member Jen Mazzocco said.

Mazzocco says the borough is on top of it with a new “mobility audit” and safety plan.

“They walked around and took notes about what the sidewalks looked like, things that were blocking it, where there curb cuts,” she said.

It’s just one example of community leaders taking action and taking everyone’s abilities into consideration.

“In a world full of ramps and sliding doors, I wouldn’t be disabled. The world disables me, not the chair,” Grishman said.

The group says anyone can report these kinds of issues if you see them.

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For more information on the apps, learn how to download “My Burgh” here and “Axs Maps” here.