The City of Ottawa ignores winter in terms of PWD and public transportation.
It’s official! Winter has arrived in Ottawa and many parts of North America.
How are all of you doing? Seriously, how are you? Both physically and mentally.
Besides, it’s good to check in on others; a cold blast of the season can also be a blast to your system, both good and bad.
While I find falling snow, and lightly snow-covered trees beautiful at times, it’s also a stark reminder that I’ll mostly stay home for at least five months. One reason why I’ll be staying home isn’t solely because cold temperatures “annoy” me. Due to my disability, cold temperatures can quickly become very dangerous in a very short period.
A second reason I need to address is transportation and the city’s definition of snow-clearing. Technically, those are two reasons, but they do go together.
Long-time readers may know I’ve been very outspoken regarding snow-covered sidewalks, parking lots, bus stops, and wheelchair-accessible entrances. Every year, the city seems to forget about Winter.
If you need an example, look no further than how often the LRT and buses get stuck. Also, some LRT stops lack roofing, affecting the passengers and trains.
When will Ottawa accept the fact that we don’t live in California?
The same question also applies to many drivers on our roads.
Getting back to the topic of clearing sidewalks and similar places, Ottawa needs to do a better job.
Each year, several PWD, regardless if they use mobility devices, struggle with going out due to poorly cleared sidewalks and pathways.
Some of you may think that we have Para Transpo, and we should be thankful to have door-to-door service. I will say that, yes, on certain days and in specific scenarios, door-to-door service can be good, but it’s far from acceptable.
I’ll give you an example.
I have a medical appointment at 1 pm on a Tuesday. The day before, I go online and book my ride for 11 am. That should give me plenty of time for the Para Transpo driver to get me there by 1 pm.
At some point between the time I booked my ride and 11 am the following day, we all hear or read the news that snow is on the way. The forecast calls for five to ten centimetres, which is more than enough to cause chaos on our roads.
Our roads are quiet as the snow starts around 9 am. In some areas, the city crews are clearing the roads. While plowing the streets, snow accumulates on sidewalks, including at bus stops and LRT stations.
Tuesday morning rolls around, and along with typical traffic, some drivers are completely baffled with how to drive, particularly in spots that haven’t been cleared.
My Para Transpo ride is booked for 11 am. Suppose the Para Transpo driver started work at 6 am, 7 am, or even 10 am that day. There’s a strong possibility that the driver’s delayed by traffic and passengers having difficulties getting on and off the Para Transpo bus. Within a few hours, delays caused by poor snow removal quickly add up.
Also, keep in mind that sidewalks need to be snow-free for Para Transpo users when they’re trying to get on board.
By now, it’s 11 am, and time for me to venture out. Before I leave my place, I log in to MyPara to see when my ride will arrive.
It says 10 minutes, so I sit and wait. I can see and hear from my living room window anytime a Para Transpo bus arrives. I also keep an eye on the countdown to see when my bus will arrive.
Now, traffic is always a factor; I get that. Due to traffic, Para Transpo wait times will fluctuate, even during the summer. However, I have plenty of experience with poor snow removal and attempting to get on Para Transpo during the winter.
It’s not just about traffic.
It’s noon by the time my bus arrives. We may have other people to pick up or drop off. If any passengers have difficulty getting off the Para Transpo bus and require help to the door due to snow, that’s another delay. After all of that, I either arrive at my appointment right on time or my appointment was cancelled because I was late.
More accurately, I was late because the City of Ottawa forgot about winter and how it affects all forms of transportation, particularly those who use mobility devices.
As we dive deeper into winter, I will provide updates, either here or on social media, on the challenges I face when I venture out this winter.