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Inaccessible Spring Garden 

Wheelchair user Ben Marston points out barriers within a two-block radius of his office.

1. Corner of Birmingham Street and Spring Garden Road
The curb cut is too narrow and leads the person in a chair out into traffic in order to cross Spring Garden Road. Ben Marston says the curb cuts are especially difficult in the winter. “The crews say they dig them out, but then the sidewalk plows fills them back in with ice and snow.” Often, the cuts are simply impassable, he says.

2. City Centre Atlantic entrance on Birmingham Street
The ramp leading into the building is too steep. Marston says it feels like a rise of three inches to every foot of length, where code is one inch to each foot. Marston is an athlete, but even he visibly strains ascending the ramp; those who are less strong would find this ramp impossible to mount.

3. Dresden Row Place exit
The door opens in the direction such that the open door comes between the person in the chair and the chair ramp. Marston says this is particularly a problem for people in powered chairs, which are larger than his manual chair; the person in a larger chair comes dangerously close to the drop off of the steps, and has little room to manoeuvre back around to wait for the door to close.

4. Intersection, Spring Garden Road and Queen Street
Curb cuts on the northern two corners are designed correctly, says Marston---they are broad and have gentle slopes that don’t present much of a problem (4a). But the curb cuts on the southern two corners are too narrow and too steep (4b). The one on the southwest corner is especially bad, because he has to go out into the flow of traffic to generate enough speed to ascend it.

5. Parking lot, Clyde and Birmingham Streets
Marston parks his truck in this lot. The single handicapped spot, at the edge of the lot, is on a sloped portion. The pavement is broken and pockmarked, so it becomes iced up, presenting an added problem because chairs or crutches can slip. Chair wheels can become caught in the ruts.

6. East side of Birmingham Street, mid-block between Clyde Street and Spring Garden Road
In the winter, Marston avoids the narrow curb cut at the corner of Spring Garden Road because it fills up with ice and snow. He opts instead to exit onto the street at this driveway, and roll his chair in the roadway, all the way to corner. “There are cars parked on both sides, so I have to kind of nudge out and hope the drivers in the street can see me.”

7. Ramp to Park Lane Mall
The ramp stretches about 10 metres from the sidewalk to the level porch outside the doors. Building codes call for a level landing every five metres along a ramp, so that people in chairs can stop and catch their breath while ascending. In this photo, Marston is sitting where a landing should be located.

8. Entrance doors to Park Lane Mall
After making his way up the chair ramp to the mall’s entrance, Marsten has to cross two sets of double doors to hit the handicapped access button to open the last set of doors. Shoppers are streaming in and out of the doors, presenting a safety hazard. It’d make far more sense to place the door button closer to the ramp.

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