Anxiety not injury

Floating Bus Stops are back in the news. This report Floating bus stops to be banned in the Guardian yesterday on their possible ban.

One argument that comes up is that relatively few people with disabilities are killed or injured at such stops while many bicyclists are killed and injured on London’s roads.

Partially this is a confabulation of two issues: the shockingly bad design of roads for mixed use by motorised vehicles and bikes and the specific design of pavement and shared spaces for mixed use by bikes and pedestrians. These are two different things.

Partially it is use of visceral data in arguments. Blood and injury are particularly strong ways of supporting an argument. However, it may not be the best or fairest way of balancing intersecting needs and intents.

Equitable use of public spaces and the design of such spaces can be about more than blood spilt.

Anxiety is the issue here rather than injury and death.

It is easy to argue about public environment design, especially that which adjacent to roads, in terms of explicit data of who is maimed and killed. However, some issues, like this, are intangible to explicit data measurement as it is about who is absent and what is not done.

People with physcial and cognitive impairments are less likely to go out and less likely to travel because of, not merely, the bad design and lack of affordances in the public environments but also the stress and anxiety of such environments. The effect of Floating Bus Stops is not the death or injury caused to people with disabilites but the unmeasured journeys not taken, the days out lost because people feel unconfident and unsafe.

This is why more conversations with more people is important. You need to explore what is done and not done. Equity is discovered in much harder and much more political events and discussions where the socio-technical imbalances of design are placed in front of people with a mixture of living experiences. What is convenient and what is essential needs to be explicit. How we balance needs equitably needs to be spoken about publicly. Inclusive Design which is not firmly based in Equity and founded in recognising essential accessibility needs will fail.

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