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The other side

As I have mentioned in previous posts, its all too easy to knock something rather than see the positive sides. As with living in Prague, and Czech Republic, there are a number of good things and bad. One detail worth mentioning though is access for all. By this I mean getting out and about if you are in a wheel chair, are old, or even have a baby in a push chair. Its not easy. Yes things are changing, but getting out and about for these groups of people is not as easy as all that.

Take, for example, the Metro. Most stations now have open access, meaning that if you are in a wheel chair you can get on the platform. Whether you can squeeze on the metro once you are there is another thing. But, there are still many stations that make it all but impossible for anyone who is unable to walk, without difficulty, to get access to these areas. Even if you are capable of walking, if you have difficulty walking then there is a problem. So imagine if you are in a wheel chair, you will need a gang of people to get you up and down the stairs. Not always possible.

We went to an office building last week. Whilst the building had a lift, you still need to go up a flight of stairs, all be it a short flight, to get to the lift. There is no easy access to this lift, like a ramp or anything. On the 2nd floor there were even toilets for wheel chair users, but the question in how does someone get there in the first place. Again a gang of people to lift the wheelchair is needed.

We have a pushchair and its not easy to get out and about. More often than not my wife relies on people to help out. This is a hangover from communist times. I asked my wife if people with mobility problems existed in communism, and what was expected of these people – did they stay indoors all the time. The simple reply was that there was no need to get out and about, you’d not have to go far to the shops, this was the expectation. Assuming the housing block even had a lift, the standard design is to have a flight of stairs to get to the lift. You could be a virtual prisoner.

Things are changing. Lifts and escalators are being installed, some even go to ground level. Buses are getting lower level, trams too have easier access. It makes a difference. But I was still on a new bus the other day and found the area for pushchairs was very small – you can’t get more than one on these buses – and the door was narrow. If you do need to get a wheel chair on board you are better off waiting for the next bus and hope it has slightly wider doors. Watching old people struggle to get on the bus is not fun. Its not as if there is even any room to give them a helping hand. I assumed these buses were simply looking new, but subsequently found out they were just 5 years old. Sooner or later they will be required to buy low floor, easy access buses, all thanks to the EU. Until that time people just have to get on with it.

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