Bel-Air Community Association Participates in Active Transportation Audit

Post date: Nov 27, 2015 2:38:00 AM

Bel-Air Community Association Participates in Active Transportation Audit

An active transportation audit involves volunteers walking and rolling apredetermined route to identify obstacles to pedestrian and public transit.

The audit was prompted by clients of the MS Society. "The Society is animportant source of information, assistive devices and support for peopleliving with multiple sclerosis," says Rebecca Cooney, of the EducationCommittee. "It's vital that we can get there safely."

On November 19th at 1:00, the auditors, consisting of three wheelchairclients of the Society, representatives of Bel-Air & Copeland ParkCommunity Associations, Ecology Ottawa, Walk Ottawa,and the MSSociety began at the MS Society on Woodward and culminated onNavaho. Auditors found, amongst other things, the following conditionshazardous for wheelchair users:

• the lack of a sidewalk on the south side of Woodward forces wheelchairusers to either wheel beside traffic or cross Woodward mid-block;

• a construction zone on Agincourt meant pedestrians of any ability had totravel on the street;

• the pedestrian light at Garfield was considered too short for safepassage by manual wheelchair users;

• lack of curb cuts at all eastbound bus shelters meant winter conditionswould render them inaccessible;

• heaving of asphalt sidewalks presents dangerous conditions in winter.

''Active transportation is especially important to wheelchair users,” saysKaren Scott of the Social Action Committee of the MS Society. “It offersindependence and freedom to alter plans, and can be the only form ofaffordable transportation available. In January of this year, 5,606 requestsfor Para Transpo could not be accommodated.”

Scott adds, "It's essential pedestrian infrastructure supports those of uswho cannot step over curbs." A recent U.S. study reports wheelchair usersare more likely to be killed in traffic than any otherpedestrians.Georgetown University reports 75 percent of crashesbetween a wheelchair and a vehicle involve "no crash avoidancemaneuver” by the driver (braking or steering).

“It’s important that wheelchair users be included in audits,” says JamieRice, Co-President of the Bel-Air Community Association. “Areas that areaccessible to able-bodied people can present real hardships to those inwheelchairs.”