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Accessible things to do in Toronto this summer!

06/09/2018

The summer is finally upon us, and it is time to embrace the sunshine and check out all the fun things there are to do in your city! It’s my first summer in Toronto, and I am determined to be as thorough of a tourist as possible. I have been brainstorming fun things to do, and thought I’d share some ideas. I would love to hear from you, about your favourite things to do and see!

Before we get started, check out some sites that track accessible locations in the city to ensure nothing gets in the way of your plans.  AccessTO is a great resource that can be used to determine if a place is accessible! And download the AccessNow app, for on-the-go information about accessibility!

Go for a sail- Anchors away! The Disabled Sailing Association of Toronto can offers adaptable sailing to members and non members. A great way to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city, and learn a new skill! An annual membership costs $50. Members pay only $15, non-members $30 for an hour and a half of sailing.

Hit the beach- Both Woodbine Beach and the Centre Island Beach have water wheelchairs available for rent, and mats out to the water! Find out more on the City of Toronto website. Pack a picnic, slap on some sunscreen and enjoy the sunshine (we deserve it after that winter we just had!)

Climb the CN tower– Accessibility information for the CN tower is available here. The views are spectacular, especially on a clear day! If you live in Toronto and have never been up the tower, maybe make this summer the one you finally cave in and climb the iconic landmark to see if the views live up to all the hype! If you’re a tourist, you can’t miss it.

Check out the ROM- Accessibility information is available here for the ROM. Friday nights at the ROM until the end of the month feature Friday Night Live for adults. Each week has a theme, with live music and general good times. If you aren’t into that, the general museum is a must-see anyways! Check out the featured fashion exhibit!

Explore a brewery- As the weather heats up a nice cold beer on a patio is a great way to spend a few hours. Craft breweries have been sprouting up everywhere, and Toronto is no exception. If you and your friends like beer, consider organising a beer tasting tour around Toronto, hitting a different brewery each weekend and ranking your favourites! Check AccessTO for a list of accessible breweries.

Embrace the soccer fever with a TFC game!- While Canada always seems to be slightly excluded from the World Cup, with Toronto being such an diverse city the soccer fever will be intense this summer! Catch a TFC game at the accessible BMO field, to get in on the party!

Cheer on some other teams- If soccer isn’t your thing, Toronto has other options! Catch a Jays game at the accessible Rogers Center or a Rugby game with the new Toronto Wolfpack at the Lamport Stadium!

Shakespeareit up in the park Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Get classy and enjoy the theatre at Shakespeare in High Park. Bring a picnic, and spend some time in the sun with the Bard. If you call ahead, there are accessible seats available.

All of these places are accessible by transit. If you find the TTC difficult to manoeuvre, check out the Braze Sentina, which provides 180 degrees of rear-view blind spot coverage, making backing onto and off of busses, streetcars and subways much easier!

**I don’t use a wheelchair, so I relied on AccessTO and the destination’s website to determine which areas are accessible. If you have any suggestions or changes, please comment or email me at madeleine.r@brazemobility.com**

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Braze Mobility image with trees, buildings and the centre of the accessibility symbol

Wheelchair Safety Tips for Driving on Roads

06/05/2018

Upon investigating the prevalence of wheelchair collisions, the amount of vehicle collisions with pedestrians using wheelchairs was shocking. According to Kraemer & Benton (2015), people who use wheelchairs are 36% more likely to die in a collision with a vehicle than other pedestrians. Fatal vehicle accidents took the lives of sixty wheelchair users in the United States in 2009 (LaBan & Nabity, 2010). This tragic statistic makes it clear the need for improved road safety for wheelchair users. Here are some ideas of ways to improve safety for navigating roads in a wheelchair.

1. Increase Visibility

The reason for the increased risk for pedestrians who use wheelchairs is speculated by Reuters (2015) to be due to decreased visibility of wheelchairs. This is supported by LaBan & Nabity (2010), who found that accidents between motor vehicles and wheelchairs were most likely to occur between dawn and dusk. Here are some easy (and low cost!) ways you can increase the visibility of your wheelchair:

Flag

Sitting in a wheelchair may place you out of the field of view of car drivers, increasing your risk of being in a collision. You can increase your visibility by using a flag that sticks up from your chair. This is a very low cost solution. But be aware- these flags typically attach to the backrest of the chair, which makes them visible only when you are fully in the driver’s field of view.

Lights

Lights can be added to your chair when ordering, or can be added after. They can be expensive when purchased from wheelchair manufacturers, however low-cost stick on lights can be added. Tetra Gear offers light attachments designed specifically to increase visibility in wheelchairs . Alternatively, you can check out your local dollar store or hardware store for lights to attach to your wheelchair if you are feeling creative!

Reflective Gear

Reflective gear may not be the highest fashion option, but safety is way cooler than fashion any day! When driving at night in areas you know aren’t well lit, you could use reflective vests or jackets, or attach reflective decals to your chair.

Make eye contact with car drivers before you cross the road

No matter how visible your chair may seem, drivers of cars may not be paying attention, or looking for wheelchairs. When crossing the road, try taking an extra second to make eye contact with the driver of the car to ensure that they see you. When in doubt, wait for the car to pass (and give them a shaming look for failing to look out for wheelchairs!)

2. Follow all Traffic Laws

Anyone who uses a mobility device, including wheelchairs and mobility scooters must follow all laws for pedestrians under the Highway Traffic Act in Ontario. This includes driving on a sidewalk wherever possible, and returning to the sidewalk as soon as possible when no sidewalk is available. When driving on the road, you must drive facing oncoming traffic, on the left hand shoulder of the roadway. Jaywheeling is both illegal and dangerous. The extra 5 minutes that it takes to get to a crosswalk is worth it to stay safe!

Unfortunately, following the law is not a guarantee of safety. 47.6% of fatal collisions between cars and wheelchairs occurred in intersections, with 47.5% of pedestrians in wheelchairs using a crosswalk at the time of collision and 18.3% had no crosswalk available (Kraemer & Benton, 2015). In all of these cases, the pedestrian was likely following the law. Be cautious at all times

3. Be Prepared!

20% of collisions between wheelchairs and cars in 2009 were hit and runs (LaBan & Nabity, 2010). Make sure that you have access to a phone, and can call for help in case of an accident. If accessing your phone is difficult, check out the Tecla, which allows you to control a phone using an alternative access switch or wheelchair controller.

Plan ahead

This can include making sure that your battery is fully charged, or planning to use public transit or an alternative route in areas without sidewalks.

Proper maintenance

Ensure that your chair is maintained properly to avoid preventable accidents, such as from faulty breaks or batteries. If something doesn’t seem right on your chair, have someone look at it. Trust your intuition, no one knows your chair better than you! 

4. Be aware of your surroundings

In busy areas, it is important to know exactly what is going on around you to prevent being hit yourself, or running someone over. Most wheelchairs have large blind spots that can be difficult to monitor, especially in crowded areas. Braze Mobility makes a blind spot sensor system that monitors what is happening in your blind spots and makes navigating in tight spaces easier. For more information, click here!

Safe driving tips for wheelchair users on the road, road safety for wheelchairs, wheelchair safety.

Thanks for joining us! If you have any safe driving tips that you think we missed, please comment below! Stay safe out there!

Sources:

Kraemer, J. D., & Benton, C. S. (2015). Disparities in road crash mortality among pedestrians using wheelchairs in the USA: results of a capture–recapture analysis. BMJ open, 5(11), e008396.

LaBan, M. M., & Nabity Jr, T. S. (2010). Traffic collisions between electric mobility devices (wheelchairs) and motor vehicles: Accidents, hubris, or self-destructive behavior?. American journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation, 89(7), 557-560.

Rapaport, L. (2015) Wheelchair users More likely to die in car crashes. Reuters.

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