Small potholes and broken bricks: Barriers to #MyAccess
On the 2nd of December with 51 participants from Smt. Kumudben Dwarkadas Vora Industrial Home for Blind Women and Snehankit in Andheri West and participants from Wilson and Sophia college. After the meet and greet, the safe and unsafe exercise brought similar points as the previous day. Non sighted participants also spoke about the importance of their walking cane to their feeling of safety as well as feeling of being unsafe when asking strange men for help on the road.
Like the previous day, 2 routes were followed, both around the by-lanes of Lalubhai park and near SV road. Issues that hindered accessibility were bad footpaths, parked vehicles making footpaths inaccessible and potholes. Issues of safety were brought up in relation to secluded areas (under the Gokhale Bridge was already considered by a participant as unsafe and this was reinforced by a man who approached many girls in the group asking them unsolicited questions and even their phone numbers) and groups of men that hung around pan shops (one of whom decided to film the girls without their consent- the video was later deleted).
Lallubhai Park, towards S V Road
One of the main problem on this route were the parked cars, which not only blocked the access to the footpaths but also made it difficult to use the road. Overall the footpaths were of poor quality, were too high and too narrow to be accessible. There were also many obstacles in the way such as flower pots, garbage and even animal feces. The roads also were of poor quality, uneven and full of potholes. Since the route took the participants to the main road (S.V. Road) they experienced problems when crossing the road due to rash drivers and lack of accessible traffic signals. The participants also noted that there were not enough lights, and the trees covered a few of them.
Lallubhai Park, towards Gokhale Bridge
Similar to the first group, the participants on the second route felt that the footpath was narrow, uneven and broken. The road was also of poor quality, uneven and full of potholes. Here again, parked cars were seen as an obstacle to accessibility, as was garbage and concrete rubble. There was also a need for more lights in the area. This route included going under the Gokhle bridge, an area which was marked as most unsafe due to sewage water, garbage, darkness and an uneven road. Participants from the Industrial home for the blind even recognised the area as unsafe from their past experiences.