Some members of the visually impaired community say they are afraid to use the crosswalks that stretch across bike lanes when trying to get to a bus stop. (Black Press Media file photo)

Some members of the visually impaired community say they are afraid to use the crosswalks that stretch across bike lanes when trying to get to a bus stop. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria’s visually impaired community wins ‘floating bus stop’ case against city

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal rules City of Victoria must install audible flashing signals

Floating bus stops will now only be allowed in Victoria if they’re accompanied with audible flashing signals, after members of the visually-impaired community took their safety concerns to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and won.

Oriano Belusic first filed the complaint in 2018 on behalf of the members of the Canadian Federation of the Blind, after Victoria’s visually-impaired community voiced their safety concerns about the bike lanes on Pandora Avenue. The complaint alleged that the City of Victoria discriminated against the Federation of the Blind by introducing “floating bus stops” between the vehicle and bike lanes that made it dangerous for people with visual impairments to cross. It also alleged discrimination on behalf of BC Transit for servicing the floating bus stops.

READ ALSO: Blind community says bike lanes put their lives at risk

In a Nov. 12 ruling, the tribunal found that complaints against the City of Victoria were justified, but those against BC Transit were not.

It also determined that the installation of audible flashing signals at the Pandora Avenue location and continued use of them at the Wharf Street location “constitute a reasonable accommodation for the present and foreseeable future.” This decision opposed several alternative solutions suggested by Belusic, from converting the floating stops to curbside ones, to installing a descending crossarm to building an underpass or overpass. It was determined that all of these would cause undue hardship to the city or cyclists, or were unfeasible.

READ ALSO: Hearing begins into blind community’s complaint against BC Transit, City of Victoria

“This ruling is less of a critique of the city, but a finding that the design standards upon which the city (and other cities) rely on for the design of these types of bus stops fail to adequately address the needs of blind or visually impaired persons,” said Bill Eisenhauer, head of engagement for the City of Victoria.

Tribunal member, Norman Trerise, added that while audible flashing signals are adequate for now it “does not mean the City should not implement technologies that would provide fully guaranteed protection for blind pedestrians if such solutions become available in the future.”

Complaints against BC Transit were found unjustified as the tribunal determined that ceasing to service the floating bus stops “would provide no discernible benefit” to Victoria’s visually-impaired community.

A future hearing will be scheduled to review the city’s installation of audible flashing signals.

READ ALSO: How one Victoria woman with vision loss overcomes pandemic obstacles

-With files from Kendra Crighton


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

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