This week my friend and I braved the underground!
I mentioned in “Let’s Build Access” that I am a small town girl in the city, so it might sound strange for you to hear that the only knowledge I had of the subway was what I saw on TV: a daunting, dark, unknown space. Needless to say, I was marveled by the experience. I am very happy to report that we did not get lost, and we did not have to rely on Google Maps! Good thing too as there is no cellphone or wifi service. Although, I learned that Freedom Mobile offers coverage in 20 subway stations across Toronto (how’s that for access)! And no, this is not a feeble attempt at promoting Freedom Mobile (sorry Freedom)!
I was travelling from Union Station to St. Patrick Station and noticed that St. Patrick was not very accessible. All I could see on my commute was a maze of escalators and stairs. After a quick Google search I learned that Ossington, St. Clair West, Woodbine and Coxwell Stations are all currently under construction to meet AODA accessibility standards, expected to be completed in 2017. Following this, Dupont and St. Patrick are expected to be completed in 2018. The TTC plans to complete at least 3 stations a year to meet the 2025 deadline of accessible transit! I was told by a Torontonian friend that there is a PATH. He kept saying about the PATH leading everywhere, and here I was picturing this:
I know, it seems I have a very literal mind.
I should have snapped a picture while we were navigating through the PATH, but I was just so overwhelmed by it all – the fact that we were underground and all the zombie-like commuters going about their routine and here we were bumping off them like the ball in a pinball machine.
The engineering of the city is marveling when you really stop to think about it! It’s like a whole other world down there. And honestly, I couldn’t stop imagining the underground like an ant-farm under the city.
While on my journey, I also saw this on the massive automatic door at the Murray St. entrance of Mount Sinai Hospital:
I have been subconsciously noticing that when I enter a building I am looking to see if the entrance is level to the ground, how much space there is between clothes racks or restaurant tables, if tables and chairs are fixed, if the washrooms are accessible, and the doorways are automatic. There were several store fronts I saw throughout the city that had “Stop Gap Ramps,” a nonprofit campaign founded by Luke Anderson, an accessibility advocate, who recognized accessibility needs in our built world, and someone who has taken an initiative to do something about it.
I know how easy it is to become so consumed with your daily routine, your own life. But, this trip to downtown really made it apparent to me that it is truly amazing what you see when you open your eyes. I have developed a certain awareness of accessibility, and I believe this is the first step towards making a change, and the city is attempting to do just that! Challenge yourself: have you identified a need? Let’s find a way to meet it.