News / Toronto

Metro Walks: What it's like to be a pedestrian who uses a wheelchair in Toronto

Adam Cohoon,who uses a motorized wheelchair, took Metro on a tour of his neighbourhood to understand what it’s like to walk – or wheel – a mile in his shoes.

Whether it’s sandwich board ads blocking the sidewalk, speeding drivers or inconsistent infrastructure, Adam Cohoon's commute is far more perilous than the average pedestrian’s.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Whether it’s sandwich board ads blocking the sidewalk, speeding drivers or inconsistent infrastructure, Adam Cohoon's commute is far more perilous than the average pedestrian’s.

When Adam Cohoon was first thinking about moving to Toronto from Kincardine, Ont., he went on a “reconnaissance visit.”

One of the first things he witnessed was a man on a scooter being hit by a driver.

“I knew right then and there that I wanted to stay downtown where things were more pedestrian friendly,” he said.

Cohoon recently took Metro on a tour of his Distillery District neighbourhood, to show what it’s like to move through the city using a wheelchair.

Whether it’s sandwich board ads blocking the sidewalk, speeding drivers or inconsistent infrastructure, his commute is far more perilous than the average pedestrian’s.

In particular, access to curb cuts – the lowered portion of the sidewalk that allows wheelchair users to get on and off the roadway – is an issue Cohoon faces daily.

He even avoids using the streetcar because some stops lack curb cuts.

Cherry Street and Mill Street: A car briefly blocks the curb cut, making it impossible for Cohoon to get out of the intersection.

Eduardo Lima/Metro

Cherry Street and Mill Street: A car briefly blocks the curb cut, making it impossible for Cohoon to get out of the intersection.

While crossing Cherry Street at Mill Street, a driver blocked the cut before slowly backing up.

“Sometimes I will be trapped in an intersection if the cars are blocking me and the light has changed,” he said.

Trinity Street and Mill Street: A Canada Post truck blocks the sidewalk. Luckily the sidewalk is wide enough to go around, but just barely.

Eduardo Lima/Metro

Trinity Street and Mill Street: A Canada Post truck blocks the sidewalk. Luckily the sidewalk is wide enough to go around, but just barely.

Cohoon said he typically has enough time to cross intersections because his wheelchair is so fast, but other people with mobility issues, like seniors and people in non-motorized wheelchairs often don’t.

It’s that that prospect of being stranded on the roadway, with cars heading toward him, that makes Cohoon wish for lower speed limits.

“When it comes to traffic, the city is almost like an old man with heart disease. We know there’s blockages but we keep trying to get the flow going, rather than saying ‘we should slow down,’” he said.

Cooperage Street and Front Street: Sandwich board signs block the sidewalk.

Eduardo Lima/Metro

Cooperage Street and Front Street: Sandwich board signs block the sidewalk.

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