People with different abilities experience transport in different ways, Designing and providing inclusive transport services requires meeting the needs of the elderly and disabled.
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In the latest episode of CIHT’s podcast “Transport Talks” we explored the topic of mobility rights with Bert Bailie, CIHT Technical Champion and Chair of the Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee (IMTAC) in Northern Ireland.
We talked about the importance of designing and delivering a transport system that accounts for the needs of older and disabled people and the key actions we, as professionals, can take to better understand their needs.
Photo of Bert Bailie, CIHT Technical Champion and Chair of IMTAC Northern Ireland
CIHT’s podcast series is now available on (and on other podcast platforms - just search your favorite podcast provider and we should be there):
When we design transport services a key element to consider is the experience of the end user: how easy it is for people to hop on a bus, how clear it is for drivers to see a traffic light or how easily and accessibly pedestrians can locate crossing spaces.
People with different abilities experience the same environment in very different ways. Making sure that the requirements of elderly and disabled people are considered and met is a crucial component of designing and delivering transport services that are inclusive.
In the September/October 2023 issue of CIHT’s Transportation Professional magazine, Bert said:
"It’s vital to be aware that people can be disabled by what we do. People who have a disability are often further disabled by barriers created by infrastructure or services."
For example, some people find it difficult to climb even the smallest steps, or a street without a guard can be problematic for people with vision impairment; a parked car on the footway forces them to step onto the carriageway, which could be unsafe.
When promoting modal shift, transport experts need to consider how well, if at all, individuals with disabilities can transition to sustainable or active travel, as well as how to develop services to make this transition possible. A successful example, mentioned in the podcast, is the 2019 CIHT Major Project Award Winner, “Glider Bus- Belfast Rapid Transit”. You can find the project here.
Those voices (of older and disabled people) are now becoming better represented, but there is a danger that we can exclude many people from consultations...
During COVID everyone faced massive changes, but older and disabled people were disproportionately impacted… using public transport was a risk that many would not, or could not, take, thus increasing their isolation, particularly in rural communities were bus and public transport services reduced to a bare minimum.
There are four key principles that we need to contemplate as professionals: first to put deaf, older and disables people at the center of decision making stages, the second would be ensuring a shift in our culture to ensure we appreciate the contributions that these people can make to society, ensure that private and public investment contributes to an accessible and inclusive society...and finally making sure that end-to-end journeys are straightforward and accessible
In the podcast, Bert mentioned one of the recommendations from the latest Imtac paper “ A new approach to travel, our streets and our places” which calls for all those involved with creating strategies, policies and services relating to travel, streets and places to undertake disability and equality training- that include undertaking a journey led by a disabled person, so we can all understand barriers and challenges.
Education is crucial for professionals to understand how to build better spaces that meet everybody’s needs.
CIHT is alco committed to provide resources to support professionals in learning about and understanding disability needs:
CIHT learn course “Understanding Disability” can be found here
CIHT Policy briefing: Safer and more inclusive walking and wheeling for everyday journeys can be found here.
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