Accessibility on the Valley Line
“Nothing about us without us.” - A phrase originating from political movements in Poland in the 1500s and became used in disability activism in the 1990s.
The above phrase has been adopted by the disability community worldwide as a way to say that decisions about us should include us. And I’m very happy to say it is actively recognized in our city!
Consultations on upcoming civic building, renovations, and other developments now include persons with disabilities, whether they are physical, cognitive, or impairments with vision or hearing.
After a few hiccups, the Valley Line LRT has opened with a stop in The Quarters, part of our community, at 9516 102nd Avenue. The station provides transit to Mill Woods and in the other direction to 102nd Avenue and 102nd Street, just by City Centre Mall and Churchill Square.
I was honoured to be involved with the consultation on accessibility from the start of the Valley Line construction, along with several other accessibility advocates, representatives from organizations, everyday citizens, and members of municipal and provincial groups.
You will see many improvements in the Valley Line LRT trains and stations. There are tactile textures on the ground to let you know you are close to the track. My favourite change is that one no longer has to push a button to open the accessible doors to the train. Those doors open by themselves, while the other doors have a button. There is a red button with the International Symbol of Access at the accessible doors if you need a ramp. The ramp comes down quickly and does not have a big gap.
The seats are colour-coded. Green is for accessible seating and blue for regular. There are padded areas if you need to stand and lean. Every stop is equipped with ramps. The Davies stop, which is raised, has an elevator to get to street level. I find the ride to be very smooth. Crossing the Tawatinâ Bridge over the North Saskatchewan River is beautiful.
Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) offers the Mobility Choices Training Program. For information, visit: https://transforming.edmonton.ca/accessibility-on-transit-ets-travel-training/. You can also call 780-496-3000 or email ETSCustomerTraining@edmonton.ca. I can confirm from experience that this free program is great. Someone can ride along with you, teach you schedule planning, and make your ride on the bus or LRT pleasurable, accessible, and safe!
Ian is a columnist with the paper. He lives in the area.