Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Universal Design Actually Works

In my perambulations around Adelaide I did my share of bus travel.

On one of these journeys I noticed a woman in a wheelchair on my bus, and wondered idly how she managed to get on board.

Looking more closely, I noticed an area in the bus designated for wheelchairs.

When we pulled up at her stop, the bus "kneeled" and a ramp emerged from the pavement side of the vehicle.

She was then able, with no fuss and bother, to wheel herself straight on the the footpath. This took no longer, and attracted no more attention than for an ambulant passenger.

Thinking about it, the only additional features required (apart from the extra space needed to park the chair on board) was the configuration of the pneumatic suspension to allow the kneeling feature, and the installation of the sliding ramp.

This sliding feature requires very little space, and I doubt that the engineering and maintenance of the ramp is anything fancy or expensive.

There's a bit of signage required, and the driver has an extra mirror used to ensure he can safely (and remotely) supervise the process. Most of the time, the space and the door is used in the normal way by able-bodied passengers.

This is no big deal, of course, except for the person in the wheelchair who would otherwise not be able to access public transport.

I'm not sure if this is unique to Adelaide, but I've not seen it in Brisbane or Melbourne, the only other places where I've used metro buses recently.

The bottom line is - if every metro bus in the country were similarly equipped, the quality of the lives of many people in wheelchairs would be improved.

It's way past time it became compulsory.

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