Monday, November 28, 2011

Disabled friendly facilities still lacking

RECENTLY, while having dinner in a restaurant near home, I saw two women struggling to get their wheelchair-bound elder relative onto the pavement.

There was no ramp, so they had to drive as close as possible to the pavement that was at least a foot higher than the road table.

One woman placed a wheelchair on the pavement and went back to assist their elder out of the car.

When she realised that the car door could not be fully opened because the car was too close, she brought the wheelchair back onto the road and helped the elder out of the car. Once their elder was comfortably seated in the wheelchair, both women proceeded to push it towards the entrance to the restaurant where the steps were.

Then they each grabbed the wheelchair by its armrests, lifted it and struggled up the steps.

I watched anxiously, fearful that they might slip. Fortunately, they managed to get their elder safely into the restaurant.

Last week, when I saw wheelchair ramps being built onto the pavement at Lake Titiwangsa near the interior car park, I was relieved.

There are not many public places that are built with the wheelchair user in mind.

At the Lake Titiwangsa, where the ramps were built, large yellow location signboards have also been set up to indicate their presence.

The angles of the ramps were also not made so steep as to prevent wheelchair users from wheeling up unassisted.

Some time ago, when I saw tact tile paths being built onto the same pavement around Lake Titiwangsa, I had wondered why ramps were not built at the same time. Now, with both tact tile pathways and wheelchair ramps in place, Lake Titiwangsa can boast of being a disabled-friendly park, although I rarely come across disabled persons visiting the park when I were there.

Perhaps not many disabled persons and their caretakers are aware that disabled friendly facilities are now in place here. If City Hall can extend the two facilities to all accessible areas of the park, it will be a bonus to the visually-impaired and wheelchair users who wish to join their able-bodied friends for a stroll.

The only thing City Hall should be concerned about, I think, is the parking of motorcycles on the pavements. This is a regular feature at Lake Titiwangsa, especially around the smaller lake by which a road runs. Visit the lake on weekend evenings and you will see what I mean.

Park visitors and joggers have been forced to move onto the road at areas where gangs of bikers and their bikes have completely occupied the pavement.

You can imagine what obstacles wheelchair users and the visually impaired are up against when they visit the park, even if there are facilities friendly to their needs.

Now, with the ramps built onto the pavements, it will be even easier for bikers to park their bikes there unless City Hall does something to prevent them from staking their weekend claim on the pavements.

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