Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wait your turn, or be whacked!

One of the pet peeves I have is people who are impatient when it comes to loading passengers in wheelchairs on the bus. Yes, I get that you're in a hurry and have places to go. I do too! But sometimes you have to take several things into consideration.

When able-bodied people line up for the bus, it's a very simple process. You stand at the bus stop, wait for the bus to come, the door opens, and you get on.

For wheelchair users, it's a bit more complicated than that. If you don't realize it and let your impatience get the better of you, you're going to get WHACKED. No, I'm not threatening you. You will literally get whacked. I will explain.

Imagine a regular low-floor bus. Imagine the process of loading a passenger in a wheelchair. First, it has to stop. Then the doors open. And here's where people's impatience gets them in trouble -- the ramp unfolding.

In case you don't notice, the ramp folds OUT of the bus and onto the sidewalk. Therefore, common sense would require you to move BACK so the ramp can deploy.

With me so far? Good.

However, a lot of able-bodied people don't understand this. They see the wheelchair user at the stop, and then he/she moves back. "Oh, he/she isn't getting on," the person thinks, and steps towards the bus door to get on. WHACK!!! The deploying ramp hits that person in the face.

It might sound funny to you, but it happens so often that I don't find it funny anymore (even though it kind of is). If the person waited a few seconds, he/she would hear the familiar "beep-beep-beep-beep-beep"ing of the wheelchair ramp being deployed. But once you're in a hurry, you don't hear the beeping before it's too late.

"But wait," you ask, "wouldn't it take a while for the ramp to unfold and smack the said person in the noggin?"

Well, it depends on the bus. Some of the older New Flyer low-floor buses have ramps that deploy slower but on average, NovaBuses have ramps that are FAST in unfolding (even though they take a while to unfold completely... but that's a story for another time). So if a wheelchair user wants to board a NovaBus and you feel impatience coming on, beware of being WHACKED.

Take this tip and remember it. The next time you see a wheelchair user waiting at a bus stop and he/she backs up a few feet when the bus arrives, you should probably do the same.

Because the only "whacking" that should happen in the city should be in mafia movies.