Ramp Crawl in Oakland. Image courtesy of OBID.

Last year, around 60 people took to the streets for the first ever Ramp Crawl, a day encouraging people with disabilities to patronize Oakland businesses. Originally created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Ramp Crawl will officially become an annual event on Thursday, May 5 when it returns to the neighborhood.

Ramp Crawl was launched by the Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID) campaign Oakland for All, an initiative that includes community organizers and advocates committed to making the Oakland business district more accessibility-friendly. Under Oakland for All, OBID, along with the Oakland Transportation Management Association and others, worked with local establishments to create a unique bar and restaurant crawl for adults with limited mobility.

“People were actually kind of surprised and thrilled because they had never heard of it before,” says OBID executive director Georgia Petropoulos. “It’s this whole concept of re-thinking a bar crawl because we want to encourage more individuals with disabilities to come as patrons into our business district, but we also want the public and the business community to also see that all individuals can participate in social life.”

Ramp Crawl at Schenley Plaza. Image courtesy of OBID.

The second Ramp Crawl will start under the tent at Schenley Plaza, where participants will enjoy food and drink served by The Porch. From there, the group will stop for food and beverage specials at five other participating bars and restaurants, including Fuel and Fuddle and the Garage Door Saloon.

In addition to showcasing ADA compliant establishments, Petropoulos believes the event will also call attention to the need for more Oakland businesses to comply with federal law and work to make the neighborhood a more inclusive, welcoming place for everyone.

“We’re right in the backyard of all these hospitals and the VA,” says Petropoulos. “We should, as a community, be a model for accessibility. It’s a thriving center with a lot of people, and I think sometimes we take for granted the ease of access for those of us who can be mobile without assistance.”

Ramp Crawl will begin at 4 p.m. Tickets are available for a $20 donation, with all proceeds benefiting Oakland for All.

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.