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Access and inclusion Canada general

Pedestrian Guidelines for North America

Pedestrian guidelines are firm and aim for public safety. Even for some electric mobility devices. It starts at home, with children, and walking to school. As a child, you might have had an authoritative figure who walked with you. You might even have been that authoritative person yourself. Cool. Life went on. You may have inspired other pedestrians, knowingly and unknowingly. Some of us stumbled while walking suddenly. Like one sunny day late in May, when I encountered a wall in 1999, then I was diagnosed with a chronic illness in mid-June 2000.

Bang. A few years later, you might be using a mobility device, if that happened to you. What’s with this? Stairs become your barriers, many places you can’t live, and it begins there. There are so many barriers! Freedom of the road and all conflicts with public safety. There are so many cars! Legal weed (in Canada). The doctor and the prescriptions. Freedom and discretion in many areas of North America, and open-air consumption are all good many times, even here, where it’s legal. Makes sense of it all, don’t you know? Am I the same on one of those devices as I was walking to school? My mother and older sister were my walk partner in that younger me. We walked facing those big deadly cars. “Stay out of their way”, they would warn. “You cannot see them coming behind you on that other side. Walk like this, you little bra…” I’d scare my sibling, scaring at least one driver too with me darting the traffic lane, terror on a bike. You never win against a vehicle. But life I found is fun when challenging that ‘fear factor’. Yes, some folks never made it past that life of thrill. They refused to walk with me after a few close calls, and I picked up some bad habits. Meh. Darn walls. I met some RCMP officers and the Road Safety Department of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia a couple of years into my life on a mobility scooter. Medichair Northern BC has always supported pedestrian safety along with me… We learned together, adding to the legend in my mind. Gave a community speech for the community. I was also pulled over a few times by young officers suffering from unfamiliarity with mobility device travel after it, just educating them on the road, backing up perhaps a supervisor advising of sightings of ‘people like us’ driving unsafe because of weather conditions.

Looks like snowplows passed on this winter morning in Prince George BC on Third Avenue. Pedestrian safety begins with me, along with you, in the active transportation network of Prince George.

Long and short of that story, there are several classes of 2, 3, and 4-wheeled electric scooters. For the afflicted, our scooters travel no faster than 10 kph or 6 mph. This is a pedestrian-class scooter or power wheelchair, and it usually comes from a medical supply place. It is often authorized in BC by an Occupational Therapist (OT). Other places exist, like online retailers and Walmart Scooters for example, 1-800 Wheelchair is a website too c/w no cost shipping. Some people have health insurers that pay for one. Donated items show up. An OT will provide guidance and basic instructions for safety inside and out in the wild, when new and when devices are renewed. They wear out after about 5 years of hard long-distance riding in any community. Many funding sources depend on an OT being involved. But if you have the means, you could purchase one without a health need to replace a vehicle or to gift an ageing relative or partner. At the end of the story, mobility devices incapable by design of travelling faster than 10kph (6mph) are pedestrians and have no actual rules. They face the traffic in multiple forms of mobility, as a safe way of travel on road surfaces. Pedestrians are not supposed to travel on provincial and national highways. Where accessible pedestrian infrastructure exists (sidewalks and paths/parkland, they should be utilized by all forms of pedestrian movement.

Challenges to Pedestrian Safety

  1. Why do we only use a mobility device? Good question. You must be comfortable with our transportation devices to feel safe inclusively. 7 days a week, 24 hrs a day 365 days a year you might see us living our lives outside our homes. We are a class of the diverse pedestrians that you see in your daily travels along a sidewalk or a roadside as you drive or walk by. Many of us use one as an accessible vehicle’s cost is prohibitive to many, or perhaps we don’t realize a vehicle we might or perhaps not own now can be adapted with hand controls. That also requires a driver’s licence review in British Columbia, perhaps elsewhere, for recertification of safety. That might be a challenge for many before the cost of ownership. Perhaps the licence was legally lost or age took it away. Most often, we live in a larger community, like a city. Our reasons are diverse. We were electric long before it was cool in vehicles. On a sidewalk, we travel, respecting other pedestrians. We love it when you respect us and clear the path of your body when you notice us behind.
  2. What about the direction of travel against traffic? Doesn’t that conflict with bike traffic in that lane?: That’s 2 of the questions that come up the most often. As a power mobility device travels in a small footprint, and the bike cannot see traffic behind, a smaller footprint, it makes sense for the mobility device that stays out of the way of oncoming traffic with awareness, to travel closer to the traffic flow as the bike passes safely next to the sidewalk. We can all share a road surface. We should not travel on roadways where bikes are banned. I always go wide tight against the traffic lane, making it obvious for a bike to pass on my right. Some will veer wider and try to pass on my left, putting themselves deep into traffic flows. I then dart in to pass them on the inside, allowing them safety.
  3. Parked cars: Sometimes a rider on the road will encounter a line of cars parked. Always be looking for a running vehicle or one that appears to be pulling out. If vehicles are oncoming, proceed only if safe to go, or duck between the parked cars, proceeding when safe until the end of that line hopping cars.
  4. The safest and most recommended way of travel is on sidewalks. In a perfect world, that is true. Always try to keep on sidewalks. But in reality, some sidewalks are not in the best shape. Sometimes, they are so crowded with many people. Some are not curbed at the intersection. Sidewalks are rough on sensitive bones, as those devices have no shock absorbers. Sidewalks don’t exist everywhere. There are a diverse amount of reasons people ride on the road. If you follow the same guidelines as pedestrians, you will be safe and unhindered. If you interfere with vehicular traffic, you will catch the attention of an RCMP officer or other emergency responder in Canada for a much longer story… You won’t face charges doing anything pedestrian but that’s loose as you might have a legal charge applied. You can keep your weed now, lol.
  5. Seasonal: Extreme weather is always a challenge, particularly for someone who uses a mobility device. Winter, short story. Snow is a much longer story with temperature challenges; spring flooding and frozen drains follow… Snowmageddon events
  6. The city I live in is Prince George BC. We have a civic committee for access and inclusion. It connects to the city’s active transportation network of pedestrians among vehicular traffic, inclusively. Society’s definition of ‘disability’ for people with an affliction is those who require accessibility changes. Those changes are inclusive and benefit everyone once realized. An App we use gives the civic committee information from your eyes, about civic issues of concern from taxes to potholes and sidewalk challenges. Even those frozen spring drains are fixed fast. It’s part of a civic program called CityWorks. It can be downloaded on all mobile devices. The city of Prince George highly recommends all civic residents and participants of the local active transportation network download it today.
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Access and inclusion British Columbia Prince George Uncategorized

Could AI be the future of Non-Profit boards?

Virtual meetings became popular, as meetings between groups of individuals that support regional and provincial visions, further benefiting communities of people who faced the barrier of travel to attend meetings that included local. Most notably with diverse boards managing Non-Profit aims. Within my local community, called a hub city and gateway to and from Northern BC, we host many diverse groups. We know remoteness here. Many communities establish an Advisory Committee for Accessibility like this one in my home community to identify seasonal and infrastructure barriers. I don’t know if that’s a population initiative for every diverse size of the community. For those that have that civic committee, it was recently changed beyond British Columbia to add the title of ‘Inclusion’, to identify barriers to inclusion within the community. The first virtual meeting I had was via telephone connecting representatives in the Lower Mainland area of British Columbia, 2 communities in Northern BC, and Prince George facilitating via me. We did that before 2010, leading to the future in more than my local MS community, as some meetings allowed directors to call in nationally after that trial. I had led a local group of MS-afflicted persons from 2005 to 2022.

Through that group, which is not a real non-profit group registered within the province or any political boundary, I knew of an international support community for this affliction. That international community influenced my personal MS primary education at WebMD in a much longer story of me. That wasn’t just for non-profits with diverse guiding boards, I found. The business of a province or nation has local and remote offices, diverse stakeholders, and multiple offices across vast tracts of land—nations across borders and oceans. They are all controlled by boards. I began in 2005 to facilitate a group for the local Multiple Sclerosis community. We connected it to the city, province and nation, via phone, face-to-face meetings and email so limited. We then needed to connect to move productive non-profits forward shaping communities. Fast forward, and thanks to the MS groups of Northern BC inspiring MS Canada to support from those early versions, a Zoom connection connecting remote diverse groups formed as Multiple Sclerosis-afflicted persons often volunteer their time to assist powerful groups. It was strengthening the need for remote communications, due mostly to the virus fear beyond the remoteness of British Columbia, including Northern. It was the Medical Community which included Multiple Sclerosis experienced persons in the mix of ‘British Columbians with medical experience‘ with universities partnering with BC Health who introduced ‘Telehealth’ throughout BC’s Northern Communities, now Digital Health in Canadian Health Authorities that identified the way to overcome remoteness beginning with next-door neighbours.

They all drive communication changes. Large and small businesses had the same needs for communities and regions as the non-profits. A few years before the Pandemic that brought COVID-19 and those years forcing changes to all live meetings, the software suddenly had diverse options other than Microsoft Teams, Skype, AOL, Facebook Messenger, or another App. Zoom became popular. Free, seamless international communication. Face to face, virtually. Artificial intelligence for translation got way better and was also free. It was available just before that pandemic and now all levels from Non-Profits to big businesses are struggling to bring employees back to the office full-time, now that 2023 brought full Endemic action to the country.

The Artificial Intelligence addition to Zoom paid accounts, a recent addition I’ve not tried yet, looks innocent enough. Chats I cannot type fast enough to ask a presenter a question when the subject comes up. I might master when asked a question I have to type out. Even some answers typed out don’t come fast to keep up with the speaking without it. As the presenter, it generates notes on what to say, cue card style. Meh simply amplified brainless activity. Will it take away from creativity? I guess we’ll have the chance to try it. Presently, I’m trying to create meetings hybrid in the future. I am president of one meeting group for a non-profit that has never gone ‘remote’, and another civic group, not a non-profit, that has been hybrid since the beginning of the pandemic. I might become a professional board member in some predictable future, getting paid to visualize a path for a company that isn’t a Non-Profit. You could be, too. As the person signing my cheques, or perhaps I’ll sign yours in the future.

A picture of a board meeting within a room, hybrid style with four persons in the room, one remote attendee. Hybrid can have multiple remote attendees and only one person in a board room hosting as well. They are not necessarily just to manage Non-Profts.