All aboard for accessibility

In the train carriage, a woman is seated in a manual wheelchair and is sitting next to a man in a standard seat. They are looking at an in-seat screen, probably for movies.Queensland Rail has improved accessibility on the Spirit of Queensland. This journey from Brisbane to Cairns over 25 hours can accommodate most types of power wheelchairs or mobility scooters. Seating car E has three wheelchair spaces, with four additional accessible seats for people who transfer to a seat. It also has an accessible toilet and shower compartment. There is captioning on messages and selected movies as well as hearing loops. Nice contrasting of colours on seats and flooring, plus Braille and tactile signage. 

The Queensland Rail website has a lot more information about accessibility on the Spirit of Queensland and there is a factsheet. The Tilt Train from Brisbane to Rockhampton has similar facilities.Other trains have narrow doors and aisles which makes access difficult. There is no information about toilets on these trains. It will be a great day when all rolling stock is inclusive.  

Editor’s note: I found it difficult to navigate the website to find the relevant information for this post. 

Photo from Queensland Rail website. 

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Transport and Health Conference: Call for Papers

A Melbourne tram moves along a quiet street after the rain. A cyclist is in the background.The Transport and Health Conference will be held in Melbourne 4-8 November 2019. The call for papers closes 8 May 2019.  The overarching themes are: Transport and Health Behaviour, Technology for Smart Cities, Transport and Health Impacts of Cities, Planning for Smart Cities, Sustainable Urban Transportation, and Women’s Health and Transport. Under these themes are topics that lend themselves to accessibility and inclusion. It would be good to see papers addressing these issues. For example, being green is of little use if you can’t access the transportation. The conference theme is, Smart Cities. Disruptive Mobility. Healthy People.

See conferences and events upcoming for a list of more conferences. 

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Report on train station access in Melbourne

Distance view of a major train station showing platforms and trains.Here is a short research paper based on three case studies of train stations in suburban Melbourne. The stations were selected on specific criteria. The results show that in spite of a policy aim of going beyond the Transport Standards to take a whole of journey approach, there is some way to go when it comes to full accessibility.  In the concluding paragraph of the Executive Summary of this working paper, Kathleen Miller writes, “It is recommended that Public Transport Victoria update the information provided through Journey Planner, and on the website, to accurately reflect the accessibility of the train stations visited. This will provide more accurate journey planning information for people in wheelchairs. If this is done across the network it will be a large step towards enabling access to the train system and increased independence for people in wheelchairs to make the decision on what journey is best suited for them”.

A nicely written report with a detailed methodology that can be used as the basis of further studies across Australia. The title is: “Does information from Public Transport Victoria’s Journey Planner align with real life accessibility for people in wheelchairs?”  

Perhaps another case of bureaucrats not actually knowing what constitutes accessibility? Sometimes it is more than “access”.

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Dangerous by Design

Two ambulance officers push a patient into the ambulance.According to Smart Growth America, pedestrian deaths are increasing while actual traffic fatalities are decreasing. So what’s happening here? According to a report, Dangerous by Design 2019, the numbers of deaths are equivalent of one jumbo jet full of people crashing every month with no survivors. And it seems the problem for walkers is getting worse. The report argues that government policies still favour high speeds for cars over safety for people. The article gives more detailed statistics for various states in the US. It would be interesting to know if this is replicated in other countries. The report was supported by AARP and the American Society of Landscape Architects. It is not clear whether population ageing is a factor.  
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Tactile ground markers vs wheelchairs: A solution?

Train platform showing wheelchair crossings across a strip of yellow tactile markers.One paper that sparked the a lot of interest at the UDHEIT conference is the thorny issue of pedestrians and wheelchair users negotiating those yellow strips of tactile markers. Tactile markers, known as Braille Blocks in Japan, cause problems for wheelchair users, pram pushers, and others with mobility difficulties. Based on research by Yoshito Dobashi in the context of public transportation, the solution seems simple. Create small breaks in the line of tactile blocks to make wheelchair and baby buggy crossing points. These crossing points are now installed in Fukuoka city and in some airports, but not yet on a national scale. Dobashi cautions that, “…improvements need to be made in response to the voices of visually disabled persons who note that the crossing points pose a hazard to them. In his latest study, Dr. Ito of the University of Yoshito Dobashi pointing to his slide at the UDHEIT conference showing wheelchair crossing points, one with a man wheeling a suitcase.Tokyo proposes a new braille block system that incorporates an improved version of braille blocks with wheelchair crossing points upon verifying its feasibility with wheelchair users and baby buggy users. As the press release of this study was published in nationwide newspapers, widespread dissemination can be expected hereafter. It is worth keeping an eye on future developments of this new system.” Good research paper by a man passionate for his topic and keen to find solutions. The title of the paper is, Re- examining the Creativity of Universal Design Initiatives in Public Spaces in Japan.  

The article is from the proceedings of the UDHEIT 2018 conference held in Dublin, Ireland, an open access publication.

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A train that flies?

TShows a white set of plane wings with a fuselage pod underneath aking off for a new adventure or a new adventure taking off? The latest idea could make accessing aircraft so much easier for everyone, especially smaller ones.  An article in the New Daily explains this sci-fi idea. Imagine boarding the aircraft body at a train station and then being transported to the wings of the aircraft sitting on the tarmac. Time would be saved as passengers could be processed on the go. There seems to be no shortage of ideas now that disrupt the way we think about everything we do.  The article has a mock up video of this Link & Fly idea. You can see it below. There is no narration, only music, so no captions.

Futuristic flying trains could be on their way

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Making transport work for people

Front cover of the reportIt seems the more disadvantaged a community or individual is, the less likely they are to access public transportation systems that work for them. This is the argument posed in a report based on research in California that looked into the issues. The outcome of the research is a Mobility Equity Framework based on two principles: social equity and community power. The pose a three step process that serves as a guide to elevate community engagement in planning and decision-making. This is followed by 12 mobility equity indicators under three goals: Access, Clean Air and Economic Opportunity. It also provides a mechanism to evaluate the equity in transportation modes. The Greenlining Institute introduces the Framework:

“For too long, transportation planning has focused on cars rather than people while neglecting communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. This framework offers planners and community advocates a step-by-step guide to a more community-centered transportation planning process that focuses on the mobility needs of communities and puts affected communities at the center of decision-making.

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Barriers to travel not the same for everyone

Picture of people carrying luggage up 56 step to the train platform. There is a wheelchair platform lift folded up at the bottom.The latest article on inclusive travel by Bob McKercher and Simon Darcy presents a systematic framework of the range of barriers affecting the ability of people with disability to travel. It is classified into a four tier framework from generic to specific. Below is an excerpt from the abstract explaining more about the four tier framework:

Previous studies tended to aggregate barriers into a single group … The failure to recognise the complex, yet subtle interplay between tourism and different types of barriers results in the tendency to see people with disabilities as a homogeneous group where a one size fits all solution applies. In reality, they are a heterogeneous cohort who face the same types of barriers as everyone, some barriers that are common to all people with disabilities, those that are unique to each disability dimension and specific impairment effects that are individualistic.

The full title of the article is “Re-conceptualizing barriers to travel by people with disabilities”, and is available from Science Direct, or directly from Simon Darcy on Research Gate.  Published in Tourism Management Perspectives.  

 

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Transport and Health

Newsletter front cover showing a wide pathway with trees and shrubs on either side.The Professional Association for Transport and Health (PATH) newsletter has information for people interested in healthy transport and transportation. This quarterly newsletter has the following topics:

  • In the Know: What’s Happening Globally
  • A European Cycling Trip
  • Publications & Articles of Interest
  • Doctoral/Post-Doctoral & Employment Opportunities

Front cover of the journal: mostly green with some blue shading and white textOf most relevance to universal design is the special issue of the Journal of Transport and Health, Built Environment, Transport and Health. At the end of the newsletter there is a list of open access articles. One of interest to UD is Older People’s Experiences of Mobility and Mood in an Urban Environment

 

Editor’s Note: I have suggested that they might review the font type and size, and format for easier reading for their next issue.

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