ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE
NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Toronto Bike Path Endangers Blind Pedestrians, Disability Coalition’s New Captioned 7-Minute video Reveals
November 20, 2023 Toronto: The City of Toronto built a new bike path in the midst of a midtown Eglinton Avenue West sidewalk that seriously endangers blind pedestrians. This is revealed in a well-known non-partisan grass roots disability coalition’s new captioned video, available at https://youtu.be/tJuF8-EbOME
“For Toronto to establish a new bike path right on the sidewalk, and not at road level, very obviously endangers blind pedestrians who have no way of knowing they’re straying into a bike path,” said blind lawyer, law professor and disability rights advocate David Lepofsky, Chair of the non-partisan AODA Alliance. “I certainly don’t want to walk in the middle of a bike path, but when I’m on this sidewalk, I have no way of knowing there is a bike path here!”
This new video explains how a blind person can safely navigate a typical sidewalk. When a bike path is added to the sidewalk, a serious and entirely unnecessary danger is created.
“It is especially infuriating that this happened in a city and province which are required by Ontario law to become accessible and barrier-free to Ontarians with disabilities by 2025,” said Lepofsky. “Our City should not treat people with disabilities as expendable second class citizens.”
This video reveals that this troubling bike path design also endangers pedestrians and cyclists without disabilities. The video heartily supports the need to build more bike paths and contends that designing them to be safe is not rocket science.
The video also shows that this bike path is illegal. It violates the right to equality for people with disabilities in the Charter of Rights, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It is illegal to create new accessibility barriers like this, which is all the worse when it is done using public money.
In this video, the AODA Alliance calls on the City of Toronto to remove such dangers, and to prevent them from being created in the future. This video is the latest in a series of online videos that the AODA Alliance has released to shine a public spotlight on accessibility blunders in the design of public spaces. Earlier videos, which garnered thousands of views and ample media coverage, exposed such blunders in the Ryerson Student Learning Centre at the Metropolitan Toronto University, in new and recently renovated Toronto public transit stations, and in the new Centennial College Culinary Arts Centre.
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the provincial government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025 by enacting and enforcing accessibility standards to prevent barriers such as the one that this video exposes. Government-appointed Independent Reviews of that legislation by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley and by Rich Donovan document how far behind the Ontario Government is in fulfilling its duties under the Disabilities Act.
For more background, visit the AODA Alliance website’s Built Environment page.