Damaged elevators are a “huge drawback” for individuals with restricted mobility in Denver

DENVER – Life is full of obstacles. Amy Van Dyken has overcome some more than most in her life. Van Dyken is an Olympic champion and a former world record holder in swimming.

However, in 2014 Van Dyken got into a serious ATV accident that paralyzed her. Despite the hurdles, she doesn’t let the fact that she is in a wheelchair slow her down.

However, on Thursday, Van Dyken encountered an obstacle that she was not expecting.

Van Dyken went to dinner near Union Station in Denver with some of her friends and used a footbridge to get from their home to the restaurant. She lives just a few minutes from the restaurant and says it was a quick and easy way to get there.

On the way home, she decided to use the Millennium Footbridge near the 16th and Chestnut, but the elevator was broken.

There was a sign warning people of the elevator failure and advising them to go to either 18th Street or 15th Street to cross the railroad tracks in the area.

“So I went from 16th Street to 18th Street to see if this elevator would work to get me over the bridge and ride the tracks. That elevator was broken so I had to go from 18th Street to 15th Street, ”said Van Dkyen. “It was freezing cold, it was dark, it was night and it was a little freaky.”

Van Dyken says she met some homeless people under the bridge and was concerned about their safety.

“I’m a single woman in a wheelchair, I know I’m a pretty vulnerable person,” she said. “In wheelchairs, people pushed people out of the wheelchairs to steal these things. They’re expensive.”

Van Dyken says she had no problems and eventually made it home.

However, the underpass on 15th Street is steep and difficult for wheelchair users to cross.

“I’m a CrossFitter and I CrossFit every day. Everyone knows me I mean, I’m an Olympic champion and it took me a long time to get up on the other side. If there’s someone who is older, they’re not up there, they’re stuck and that’s a huge problem, ”she said.

This isn’t the first time Van Dyken has come across broken elevators commuting through town. In fact, she says, broken elevators are a common obstacle for people with mobility issues to overcome.

Van Dyken was so upset with her experience that she posted a video on Instagram talking about her frustrations.

“We deserve to get around our great city without a problem and without having to worry about it, but I just feel like sometimes the disabled community, which is a huge community here in Denver, is overlooked” , she said .

In the video, she urged Mayor Michael Hancock to help her and others in the city fix these elevators.

However, the elevators are operated by the Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District. The district posted a public letter on its website on November 6th saying a contractor is upgrading and modernizing the elevator.

“We assume that the work will be completed by late winter 2019. The Millennium Bridge elevator will be inoperable in the 6-8 weeks that the elevators are being upgraded, ”the letter said.

However, on February 24, the district chief of the Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District said the elevators on the Millennium Bridge won’t be ready until mid to late March. Further complications in the repair lead to delays.

Last month, senior citizens at Denver7 complained about the inconvenience caused by the elevator failure.

There was an audio button near the bridge that explained the failure. However, that button didn’t work on Friday. It’s also up a flight of stairs that Van Dyken and others in wheelchairs can’t reach.

In a statement, Mayor Hancock’s office said: “We really appreciate that Ms. Van Dyken is sharing her thoughts on social media and it is clear that she has had some frustrating experiences. Like any Denver resident, she is welcome to contact us directly with her concerns so we can address her. “

Denver Public Works said it will contact the district to find out what the status of the elevator is. Denver7 was unable to get the district for comment.

For now, Van Dyken is just trying to raise awareness of the struggles people with mobility issues face on a daily basis.

“I just have to say that it takes my freedom. I don’t have the ability to climb the stairs. I mean, I probably could, but it would take a long time. So there has to be another way we can get around, just like the able-bodied people can get around and not have to worry, ”she said.

Editor’s note on Feb.24 at 9:52 p.m .: This story has been updated to include a time frame when the Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District expects elevators to be operational again.

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