Channel NewsAsia has reported that the pedestrian crossing between the new ION Orchard and Wheelock Place will be closed from today. This means shoppers will have to use the underground link. Able-bodied shoppers that is.
People on wheelchairs or babies in prams will have to use another road crossing 150 metres away. But wait, sorry only prams can. Wheelchair users will find the ramp too steep to use. Too bad for them.
Frankly I find it very frustrating that the “premier” new shopping centre in Orchard Road also doesn’t have barrier free access for wheelchairs and prams. It says a lot about mall developers, the Building and Construction Agency’s building codes and our society’s lack of empathy for the less able-bodied among us.
I must admit I never noticed all these problems until I started wheeling my baby around in a pram. Of all the shopping malls I visit with my family, I find that the Orchard Road malls are probably the most inaccessible of them all. Orchard ION is not the only one. Even Wisma Atria appears to have no ramp to enter the building. One has to go up an escalator to get in.
What happened to building codes that require barrier-free access? Does that not apply to the route from the street into the building? Why not?
I’m sure there will be a lot of blame shifting going on after this CNA report. The mall developers will point to LTA (Land Transport Authority) and LTA will tell Singaporeans that there is barrier-free access if you’re not too lazy to take a huge detour.
I really don’t care who is responsible, just get it flattened out.
As far as I’m concerned as a pram-pushing parent and a shopper, if I find a certain mall is too inaccessible, I’m boycotting it and spending my money and time somewhere else. I would encourage fellow parents, folks with disabilities and even able-bodied folks to do the same, to send a message to the inconsiderate mall developers and the authorities. Let’s vote with our wheels.