Late in 2012, the city of Toronto started a pilot project wherein they placed specific markers at one intersection, as a way for the visually impaired to be able to tell when they’re approaching the street. And, that got me thinking not entirely sarcasticly. Does Toronto have a “blind person wanders into middle of intersection unknowingly” problem that maybe hasn’t been reported, or that places like Ottawa haven’t developed quite yet? It was an honest to goodness question that, well, not having been in Toronto in a number of years I can’t really answer with any degree of accuracy. But having been in all manner of places near Toronto, and well past it, I can say if it has, it would be a new one on me. So I have to ask. What problem is toronto hoping to solve?
I do my fair share of travelling, when I can. Probably not as much as I aught to, but more than your average John Q. Sighted figures me capable of 9 times in 10. I’ve run into some wicked nifty cool intersections that, okay, don’t make themselves blatantly obvious if you happen to be 3/4 the way asleep. But pretty much everywhere I’ve been, be it in Ottawa or elsewhere, has always had some kind of general indicator that, hey guy with the cane, street incoming. The only way you’d miss most if not all of those indications is if you were walking the streets completely and utterly oblivious–and if we’re being honest, John Q. Sighted’s probably a little more guilty about that than he’d like to admit what with the texting and walking and all that jazze. So seeing this project underway pretty much begs the question. What are we not seeing?
Don’t get me wrong. If this solves a problem, I’m all for it. I’m just trying to wrap my head around exactly what problem is being solved, here–and, relatedly, if it’s even a problem at all. I’d assume it is, simply because Toronto isn’t exactly swimming in cash at the moment and is kind of hoping the province will kick in just a little money to help support their transit system (Let’s not touch the fact the province is about as swimming in cash as toronto is, shall we?), so they wouldn’t–you’d hope, anyway–decide to go on a random toss money at a solution and hope it catches a problem. At least that’s the working theory. Because the alternative is a significant number of visually impaired folks in and/or around toronto are somehow asleep at the switch, posing all manner of risks to life and limb–usually their own–for the sole purpose of getting from A to B. And really, that doesn’t come off too pretty either. So I haven’t the slightest. Are the sidewalks in Toronto that bad? Are folks over there that caught up in their whatever they’re doing that isn’t paying the hell attention? Or is this a solution looking for a problem. Inquiring minds are inquiring. Just in case future trips in the general direction of Toronto necessitate I expect random things in my path that are supposed to be warnings. Because nothing says welcome to a new city quite like sidewalks that don’t actually look like sidewalks when you go to actually do things with them. Or maybe I just can’t think like someone from Toronto.
(*): John Q. Sighted tends to see this as a problem. I, rather, can’t see much of anything.
Update to add: I fail at HTML, so the second link on this thing may have slightly broken. It’s since been fixed. Now if I could just have remembered to fix the thing when I was in here fixing other things earlier.