Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Monday, September 29, 2008

Going the Extra Mile - Accessible Often Means Roundabout

The Long Way Around

While sometimes a person might complain when there are no accessible facilities available, it can seem like you are looking a gift horse in the mouth with you complain about the facilities that exist. It can be rough to miss a connection on a bus because you were taking the extra fifty or even hundred metres required to reach an elevator or ramp.

True, a person might say "you should have started out earlier" which might have some truth to it --  but when connecting from one service to the next, you only have a certain amount of time to travel from one mode to another whether it be from bus to train or train to bus or even bus to bus or train to train. When service is every 3-5 minutes it is not so bad, but when service is less frequent than every 15 minutes it can make a large difference.

When you can't run for a bus it can be very frustrating for one to leave when you are so very close at hand -- travelling from one place to another within the station or terminal.

Some places just aren't designed well for people who aren't travelling well on foot. It is like the designers don't actually have a clue what it is to use these facilities if you need the accessible facilities. Perhaps this is just the case. Perhaps they really do need people who use the facilities to be a part of the design and not just part of town hall meetings and open houses on getting building permits approved.

(image to right from Wikipedia)

I know that there is the issue of keeping wheelchair friendly ramps at a slope that is safe and without too long straight lengths and such forth. But sometimes thing should be planned out better. I hope that things are getting better. I also hope that there is planning included for (in no particular order and not inclusive) people with babies in strollers and carriages; people with other impairments such as visual; people with luggage; people with small children; and so many other situations other than a business person on the way to work with a brief case and maybe an umbrella... for that matter... rainy days can sure be a problem with people not having a thing they can do with a wet umbrella.

An example of bad design is a "Skytrain" station built in the late 80's or early 90's which straddles a major highway interchange and bridge entrance ramp system. The station does have escalators and an elevator to take people up to the elevated track level -- but -- the elevator is on the side of the highway interchange the "Park & Ride" is on while the Transit Loop for catching buses is on the far side. The work-around is to call for a "Handi-dart" bus to come and transfer you from one side of the interchange to the other. Handi-dart is the part of the local transit system that picks up disabled people who are typically unable to ride normal public transit.

The station should have had an elevator designed into both sides. It is not a matter of there not being room. It might have meant a couple fewer parking stalls in the design of the "Park & Ride". I guess nobody on the design team considered that a person who would require the elevator might be taking the bus to continue their journey? It is good that the stations can be built elevated so that they can be above roads and thus make a smaller footprint on the urban groundspace -- But the disabled are often the folk on the low incomes that use the transit system most... perhaps not in a wheelchair, but sometimes a person who gets around with a cane or walking stick has problems with stairs and escalators?

We need more than work-arounds!

~ Darrell


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