Can your city learn some lessons from Malta when it comes to proving fair mobility for all, including those with mobility handicaps? (Lessons that they themselves are, ever so sadly, not learning. At least not thus far. ) Let me put this in other, stronger words. If your city is not giving careful attention to these equitable pedestrian issues, well you are living in a seriously underdeveloped, inequitable, third-rate city. Face it! Let us hear what Kevin Cutajar of the Gozo Federation Persons with Disability has to say on this as he goes eye to eye with government authorities on this important issue. If he does not speak up, who will?
We discussed with several of the focus groups the possibility of following the lead of leading cities around the world in ensuring that all of the new buses are equipped with a sound system that announces the next stop clearly at least one minute in advance so that all will be able to get to the door and prepare to exit. There was substantial support for this project.
The immediate reason for doing this is to provide convenience service for the blind and others suffering from visual impairments who cannot or have difficulty in recognizing stops, particularly when they use lines with which they’re not already familiar. These announcements will not only be useful for the visually handicapped but also for quite a wide range of other traveling Penangites and visitors.
In the context of the Sustainable Penang/New Mobility 2014 program, the key to the success of the project lies in the identification and eventual preparation and implementation of concepts and measures which give more importance to non-motorized transport and public transportation than to the traditional uses of the private car. One of the concepts that came up early in the Focus Group brainstorming sessions was that of providing voice announcements for the blind and others with visual impairments on the new Rapid Penang bus services being developed across the state. In the following excellent list of needed measures prepared by the local NGO Saint Nicolas Home we see how thoroughly they are looking at the problems of mobility and access for the visually impaired. Thus it is not surprising that Saint Nicolas Home is emerging as one of the most engaged champions of this collaborative project for 2014. (We shall be seeing more about that project shortly here.)