Monday, March 14, 2011

A Strange Solution to Fix Barrier to Bus Shelter

I am writing to apologize to the citizens of Kingston for the removal of the doors from the bus shelters at the Kingston Centre. I saw the change for the first time yesterday, and I have already been asked why I complained. People know I'm an activist for barrier removal, so it didn't take long to figure out that I was likely involved. Their guess is right, so I am writing this letter to fully explain the extent of the problem.

In 2006 when I first started using the bus, I discovered the doors would only open a few feet before they would hit a strong resistance and stop me from opening the door wide enough to pass through with a wheelchair. Without help, I could not get in or out of the shelter.

Often a kind citizen would let me in, but if they left on a bus, I would be left trapped inside for 15 minutes until another bus came along and I could ask the driver or another passenger to let me out. For this reason, I had some real health and safety concerns.

I have complained about this one many times, but until now, the complaint had not been acted upon.

I don't get it because several years ago I noticed the hydraulic hinges were poking out through the door jam. I asked a builder if this was normal and they said no; that the hinges were likely installed incorrectly. I've also seen the door to my apartment transformed from being really hard to open, to being really easy to open by simply putting a level to it and doing a few minor adjustments to the door.

It is for these reasons, that I was really taken aback to see transit take off the doors instead of fixing or replacing the hinges. With the doors gone, transit users have now lost the tiny bit of shelter that they afforded us from the wind, cold, and elements. For this, I am truly sorry.

I'm not sure this is what the province had in mind when it created legislation to enforce the removal of barriers as per the AODA (Accessibility For Ontarian's With Disabilities Act).

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