Ideas to make our cities more accessible

Our most recent #CityTalk tweetchat, co-hosted with Transport for All, was great fun, giving meaning to the term ‘crowdsourcing’ and reaching over 50,000 followers in the process. Our topic this time was Accessible Cities and the discussion saw great ideas shared from Istanbul, Cape Town, London, Ahmedabad, Tel Aviv and beyond!

Our co-hosts, Transport for All have been championing accessible transport in the London for over two decades, while we were also joined in the discussion by our special guest Guy Davies – an accessible transport consultant for Disability Solutions in Cape Town. Together they helped shape and steer the conversation, and spark new ideas from those taking part.

Here are some of of favourite ideas:

Bring culture to the public: Cities like Ahmedabad, Glasgow, Brisbane, Cape Town and many others use cultural festivals as a means to bring people to existing, new and ‘pop-up’ public spaces, and in the process make cultural experiences an accessible part of public life. Check out these festivals:

Bring the politicians on board (literally!): Engage with officials, city leaders, parliamentarians, and other tiers of government to start shifting the mindset towards designing and building an inclusive and accessible transport solution for a city. Getting politicians to take accessible public transport also displays how the investments they make change the lives of citizens (and get them some good press at the same time).

Design with communities: Bring the end-user on board during the design process by involving those who will benefit from improvements. This can also act as a means of testing infrastructure for other users.

Make history accessible: History and heritage need not be constraints when re-purposing older buildings to become more accessible. In fact, improved access to historical buildings not only makes the buildings themselves more accessible, but the cultural experiences they often represent too. Uncluttered and more easily navigable spaces often result from modernization processes – check out Kings Cross Station in London and the Neues Museum in Berlin.

Be consistent: Even great additions that make a city more accessible – like pedestrian crossings which speak the location of the junction – need integration and uniformity to ensure a seamless experience for those of all abilities.

Accessible infrastructure for all: A connected and easily accessible city for cyclists and pedestrians might also become a safe space for those in wheelchairs, or any sort of non-motorized wheels. Think creatively, and allow for the adaptation of existing infrastructure to improve accessibility for a wider group of people.

The internet improves accessibility, it doesn’t guarantee it: In a digital age where the internet has significantly broadened access to information and education, using the right platforms to make information easily accessible is still misunderstood. The internet alone does not guarantee access, for example, if the websites are poorly designed and if the end user, such as older citizens, are still relying on traditional media.

Leading cities: But it’s not all bad news. We asked you which cities were leading the way in creating accessible cities. These were the favourites.

Guerilla Urbanism: And,if things don’t go your way, its time to take the law, or the pavement, into your own hands.

Image via Richard Drdul

There is one comment

  1. Disability Solutions

    It was great to be involved in such an entertaining, but challenging, debate. I hope there will be opportunities in the future to repeat this on other, related issues.

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