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.
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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.
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.
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.
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