Some members of the visually impaired community say they are afraid to use the crosswalks at bike lanes when trying to get to a bus stop. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to hear blind community’s case against Victoria bus stops

The Canadian Federation of the Blind says bike lanes can be dangerous

A human rights complaint filed by members of the visually impaired community in Victoria against the City of Victoria and BC Transit, for moving bus stops to the middle of the street to accommodate bike lanes, will proceed to a hearing in August.

Oriano Belusic filed the complaint in 2018 on behalf of the members of the Canadian Federation of the Blind, when members of Victoria’s visually-impaired community voiced their safety concerns about the bike lanes on Pandora Avenue.

The complaint alleges the City of Victoria discriminated against the Federation of the Blind by introducing “floating bus stops” between the vehicle lane and the bike lane. People who want to use transit must cross the bike lane in order to get to the bus stop and while raised crosswalks are in place, people with visual impairments find it difficult to know when it’s safe to cross the lanes to the bus stop, without assistance.

RELATED: Blind community says bike lanes put their lives at risk

The BC Human Rights Tribunal denied an application by BC Transit to dismiss the complaint, which alleges BC Transit discriminated against members of the visually impaired community as well, by providing its service based on physical disability by operating at the floating bus stops.

Both the City and BC Transit deny discrimination.

RELATED: City of Victoria responds to blind community’s B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case

The decision states BC Transit disputes the idea that it has a “duty to accommodate” members of the visually impaired community, including ensuring their safety and access to and from the floating bus stops. It adds, that BC Transit states that it had no role to play in the City’s decision to use the floating bus stops and while the Federation accepts that BC Transit wasn’t responsible for the design, it “is responsible for denying universal public bus transportation services” and failed to take “affirmative action to assist blind persons” to safely get to the bus stops.

Videos taken of the floating bus stop were shown to the tribunal and show the “majority of cyclists, while not stopping at the crosswalk, do slow markedly and respectfully for those waiting to use the crosswalk.” Although a “substantial minority” of cyclists filmed approach the crosswalk too quickly to be able to stop safely to allow a visually impaired person to cross.

“Transit has failed to convince me that the complaint has no reasonable prospect of success. The application to dismiss is denied,” stated Norman Trerise, tribunal member.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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