Disabled driver decries Dockyard speed bump
A disabled man has called for more consideration after a speed bump installed in Dockyard means he has to leave his car at the edge of the complex and use his wheelchair to get to the ferry station.
The 56-year-old, who asked not to be named, said he hit problems with the speed bump because he could not get his car over it without grounding it.
He has been forced to use his wheelchair to get from the Clocktower Mall in Dockyard to the ferry, sometimes in bad weather.
The man said: “It’s a good distance. It takes a good three or four minutes. When it’s pouring with rain, sometimes I just take the risk that my car is going to get damaged.”
The speed bump was installed last year when Dockyard operators West End Development Corporation pedestrianised the Clocktower Parade between the fountain outside the mall to the jewellery store Diamonds International.
The man has had no problems with speed bumps elsewhere and told Wedco that the speed bump needed to be lowered. He said that nothing had been done so far.
The man added: “I was told they were waiting until there were no cruise ships in, so I’m giving them a little bit of time.”
A spokesman for Wedco said they had had no other complaints, but that they would make changes to the speed bump to help the man.
Carmen Tucker, Wedco’s port facilities manager, said: “We installed the speed bump and graded it down several inches after this gentleman called.
“We have now taken the specifications from the HSBC speed bump in Somerset to replicate as his vehicle does not touch when going over it.
“We have contacted a company to remove the speed bump and reinstall. The new speed bump will be completed by this Sunday.”
The man, who has been disabled for more than 40 years, said accessibility for people in wheelchairs was a problem in several areas on the island
He added: “They are saying they are doing things for the disabled but they are not.
“I have been trying to get the access to Long Bay Beach in Sandys fixed for about six years now and nothing has been done.
“A lot more needs to be done for people with disability.”
He said Watford Bridge would be an easier point for him to catch the ferry into Hamilton, but it does not have wheelchair access.
The man added: “If it was wheelchair accessible, I wouldn’t need my car.”
He said the suggestion in the 2019 Green Paper on Transport that minibuses could be used to service disabled people was not a good idea.
The Green Paper admitted there were only 11 public service vehicles with wheelchair access to service residents and visitors to the island.
It added that the Government would review options for disabled transportation services in the private sector, but that this might require assistance through grants.
The Green Paper said that the Transport Control Department would issue permits to minibus operators who wanted to import vehicles accessible to motorised wheelchairs.
It added that the new vehicles were expected to increase the availability of lifts for wheelchairs.
The paper said that TCD now had applications for these permits, which could increase the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles from 11 to 23 as an interim solution.
However, the disabled man said: “Minibuses are not the solution. We need public buses because minibuses will charge us like taxis.”
He added that this could be expensive because “many people with disabilities do not work”.
The man said it had cost him $150 to travel by minibus from Sandys to Dockyard for one week.
LaKiesha Wolffe, an amputee and founder of non-profit support group A New Life, said that Dockyard’s historic buildings and layout were a problem for people with limited mobility.
She added: “If I have lunch at the Frog and Onion and my kids want to go to the trampoline park, I need to drive to the Clocktower Mall and hope there is a parking space available — nine times out of ten it seems the handicapped spot is filled by a non-handicapped person.
“Even if there is a parking space, I can’t get into the trampoline park because there are too many steps.”
Ms Wolffe said she was pleased that Wedco had agreed to tackle the speed bump complaint and that Dockyard was a wonderful family destination.
She added that more work needed to be done to make the area accessible. She said: “It seems sometimes that we have to mention tourism in Bermuda to people to make changes.
“I really don’t like that; there are a lot of people who enjoy Dockyard, not just tourists.”
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