Friday, May 06, 2005

Planning (or Lack Thereof)

Like most of you, I'm peeved by products and environments designed and planned by people who apparently have not tested them using some of the people who might actually use them.

A prime example would be two of the subway stations in Washington's Metro system. The sprawling L'Enfant Plaza station has only one inner elevator for use by disabled passengers, although there are three train platforms. If you exit a train on a side away from the elevator, there's no way to reach the elevator except to take the escalator to the platform on the other side! As many disabled people cannot, or should not, use an escalator, you would either be stuck or stranded.

And all this is not counting the wonder that is the Smithsonian subway station. Honestly, whose bright idea was it to place the handicapped elevator across the street (a busy one at that) from one of its exits, rather than on the same block? To add insult to injury (pun intended), when entering the elevator, you're confronted with a lone turnstile that requires you to use a farecard, but provides no farecard machine from which you could purchase a farecard! If you had to purchase a farecard (which would be true for many of our city's visitors), you'd have to take the elevator back to the street level, dodge the traffic with your cane, crutches, or wheelchair, and take the elevator down (if that's even possible for you) in order to buy a farecard in order to use the handicapped elevator to get on the train--across the street. (At this point, if you were able to use the escalator, you could simply get on the train from here, which means your trip across the street to use the handicapped elevator in the first place was a waste of time.)

Wait, it's worse than that. While you cannot buy a farecard when (attempting to) enter the subway platform from that Smithsonian handicapped elevator, if you were leaving the train near that elevator, you'd be able to add to your farecard before you went through the turnstile, if necessary.

Unlike local residents, who might have the option of using the MetroAccess service if they qualify, disabled local visitors who use public transportation must deal with this nonsense.

Convoluted, huh?

No comments: