INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Evaluating bus stop accessibility. particularly for people in wheelchairs, is IndyGo’s latest project.
It’s rolling out a pilot program to map out problem areas along the anticipated Purple Line.
IndyGo volunteers who use wheelchairs and Briometrix — the company providing the equipment to map the data — spent the afternoon working. For people who don’t have trouble walking, it’s easy to overlook the bumps and cracks. But for others, they feel and see it all.
The volunteers like to move around. But, they don’t use their feet. Wheels get them where they need to go. But, the path isn’t always smooth.
“A lot of people may take things for granted, maybe bypass something that maybe we see, a sidewalk with truncated dome or a lip, and it’s nothing for you to walk over. But for us, it can tumble us over or out of our chairs into the streets,” said Brandon Somerville, the field engineer with Briometrix.
Somerville is leading efforts to gather data about street and sidewalk conditions along what will eventually be IndyGo’s Purple Line corridor from 38th Street to Post Road. He knows how valuable this project is firsthand. He’s been in a wheelchair since high school. He and his team are using special equipment to record it all.
“There’s a lot to mobility including the bus. You have to be able to get to the bus stop so we’re really trying to look at what factors are limiting peoples access to a bus stop and what we can do to improve that access,” said IndyGo spokesperson Faith Chadwick.
Somerville said, on top of the cracks in the ground, they find light poles, and mail and electrical boxes blocking the way. While people walking can easily go around them, it’s not the case for people who get around like this.
“A lot of times individuals will get halfway down the sidewalk and they’ll have to turn around and go back to the stoplight, cross the stoplight, and then go back down. So, we look for things like that,” Somerville said.
But, all this isn’t just for people who use mobility devices. It’s for the pregnant mother pushing a stroller, the person using a crutch, or someone who’s blind and needs a cane to feel their way.
The group isn’t doing mapping yet. They’ll pick back up next week. IndyGo will use the data to determine where to improve infrastructure and develop a map that’ll show the most accessible routes. Purple Line construction is to start in 2021.