Better bus stops

The roadway is marked with the words "bus stop" in yellow lettering.How difficult can designing a bus stop be? Turns out there are lots of elements to consider. Bus stops are one element of an accessible and inclusive travel chain. Each country has their own format or standards for bus stops. But this doesn’t help visitors who are unfamiliar with the design and how it works. 

Accessible bus stops are more than a stop sign and perhaps a seat with a shelter. It has to fit within an accessible urban environment. Footpath materials, information and communication and street furniture all have a part to play. A bus stop outside an airport in Portugal is the subject of a case study. The researchers looked specifically at older travellers. They were able to compare bus stops back home with the one at the airport and give useful feedback and share ideas. Portugal is a favourite destination within Europe so there were many comparisons.

The results were generally consistent across the responses regardless whether the respondent had a disability. Many of the responses were fairly obvious, such as barrier-free footpaths and no obstacles around the bus stop. Shelters with seats at a suitable height and easy to read timetables rated as important. Of course, a bus stop is useless if you can’t use the bus, so low floor buses were important. 

The paper is titled, An Evaluation of the Universal Accessibility of Bus Stop Environments by Senior Tourists. It was published in the International Information and Engineering Technology Association. It is open access. See also Contributions of tourism to social inclusion of persons with disability for more about inclusive tourism in Portugal. 

Abstract: Sustainable mobility demands an integrated approach covering all modes of transport in a built environment designed for everyone. Social inclusion strategies required the improvement of transportation for people with reduced mobility. Universal accessibility has been incorporated into urban renovation processes, settlement, housing and transportation. Assessments have been made in measuring the performance of spatial indicators and usually consider technical parameters and/or user perception. In the context of accessible tourism, infrastructures and services have been adapted to be inclusive for all. Accessible built environments are required hence urban spaces, buildings, transport vehicles, information technology & communication, and services must bear in mind the approach of Age Sensitive Design. The research project Accessibility for All in Tourism focuses on bus stops designed to be age-friendly and inclusive. A questionnaire was developed for the elderly tourist aged 60+ about their perceptions of bus stop environments in their countries. Findings indicate that elderly tourists with disabilities are more critical of the existing accessibility conditions, and have a greater perception of the inclusive characteristics of bus stops. Furthermore, although older people take barrier-free spaces into account, there is some criticism around pedestrian crossings, bench design and the lack of room for wheelchair users.

Queensland Inclusive Tourism Guide

Front cover of the guide showing a man in a red shirt with his arms outstrechedWith borders opening up and people anxious for a get-away, the tourism industry is set for a boost. However, not everyone will be able to take advantage of new-found freedoms. With no international tourists likely for a while, tourism operators need to make the most of the local market. That means being more accessible and inclusive.

The introduction to the Queensland Government’s guide, Inclusive Tourism: Making your business more accessible and inclusive, begins, “This guide has been developed primarily for tourism operators, to help them:

    • increase their knowledge about the market for accessible tourism
    • develop strategies to improve the accessibility of their operation to appeal to a wider range of visitors of all abilities and ages
    • understand their legal obligations in relation to inclusive and accessible tourism.

The guide also includes information to assist people with disability in planning a holiday. Local government can use this guide to: support and promote inclusive tourism across businesses, festivals, events and public spaces; and to incorporate inclusive and accessible design into their design codes and planning guidelines. Download the guide from the link on the Queensland Government website.

See also the UTS Inclusive Tourism publication explaining the economics of inclusive tourism.

Comprehensive Universal Design

Indian hotel swimming pool at sunset.Comprehensive Universal Design is a concept from India. It refers to the classic principles of universal design, concepts of sustainability, and culture. It takes a “country-centric approach which considers poverty, caste, class, religion, background both rural and urban”. Weaving in cultural aspects such as poverty and religion takes universal design thinking another inclusive step forward. 

A Conceptual Framework for Barrier Free Hotels in Smart Cities covers most of the basics written in many other papers about universal design. It links it to the hotel and tourism industry and all the economic benefits that can bring. The article proposes a conceptual framework to explain.

Abstract: Cities are key for business, Job creation, and the growth of society. The Government of India planned to develop smart cities which are sustainable, inclusive and act as a reference for other aspiring cities. Smart cities in India will work on four principles such as wellbeing of habitants, equity, foresight and efficiency. Existing laws and design principles can act as a hurdle in achieving the four principles laid down. The principles of Universal Design (UD) are user centric, work on the social goals of inclusion, equality and independence. Universal Design India Principle (UDIP) is a set of design principles that focus on a country centric approach which considers culture, caste, poverty, class, and religion. There is an overwhelming need for environmentally sustainable designs for hospitality services. Considering the current requirements, a conceptual framework ‘Comprehensive Universal Design (CUD)’ has been proposed which includes principles of UD, UDIP and environmental sustainability. Adopting comprehensive universal design principles in the hotels in smart city will help the planners to realise equity, quality of life, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

The article is by Partho Pratim Sea*P. Senthil Kumaran

International Toilet Tourism Awards 2018

A wooden shack type dunny with the hashtag Toilet Tourism AwardThe idea of toilets being tourist destinations in their own right is taking off. This year Bill Forrester and Chris Veitch, both of whom will be speaking at the Australian UD Conference, were among the judging panel. The best accessible toilet award goes to Brisbane Airport – another topic for the UD Conference. Jill Franz will be talking about how they have made air travel for people with dementia much easier. Other award winners are from across the globe. Adelaide and Fraser Coast also scored an award. Overall winner was a toilet with a James Bond theme. A home made video of the winner – watch to the end – 

Courtesy of the My Travel Research website.

You can read more and see better pics on the karryon.com.au website.

Airbnb for everyone

A hand is holding a smartphone with an Airbnb red logo on white background. In the background is a double bed.Now that Airbnb has taken over Accomable, they are able to offer more information about the accessibility of destinations and places to stay. Airbnb has introduced 24 filters that help travellers find listings that meet their specific needs, including roll-in-showers and step free access to rooms. The Assistive Technology Blog shows in detail how the site can be used.   

Editor’s Note: Nadia Feeney from the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse will be speaking at the 3rd Australian Universal Design Conference about the work they have done on updating their database terms for accessibility across the spectrum. Chris Maclean from Local Government NSW will complement this with a presentation on their free e-learning course on inclusive tourism. And of course our keynote speaker Chris Veitch will talk more globally about inclusive travel and tourism.