Use of ‘kissing’ gates criticised over lack of accessibility for wheelchair users

THE USE OF ‘kissing’ gates in Dublin’s Dodder Valley Park has been criticised for making it “not possible” for wheelchair customers to make use of a greenway within the space.

Journalist Ellis Palmer Babe, who’s a wheelchair consumer, posted a video of himself on Twitter attempting to get by means of a ‘kissing gate’, which he encountered whereas biking on the Dodder Greenway with members of South Dublin County Council.

Kissing gates are designed to regulate entry to sure areas. They often encompass a sq. or semi-circular enclosure on one aspect and a hinged gate that swings between two shutting posts, permitting one individual to cross by means of at a time. 

The gates had been put in in 2020 by South Dublin County Council (SDCC) in an effort to stop scrambler bikes from coming into the park.

The bikes have been concerned in quite a few accidents in recent times which resulted in individuals sustaining extreme accidents, or in some instances, dropping their lives.

Nonetheless, Palmer Babe highlighted how the gate prevented him from biking by means of the property and taking in among the native space, which he would have preferred to do.

A video taken by him and posted on social media reveals how, after making a number of makes an attempt to get by means of the gate, he was unable to take action along with his wheelchair and handcycle.

“Once we received to that time, and I noticed all of the kissing gates sort of main off into that property, my coronary heart simply sank if I’m sincere with you,” he instructed The Journal.

“As a result of disabled individuals, aged individuals, dad and mom pushing kids or any individual who’s a little bit bit infirm and struggles with their stability: all of those individuals are being excluded from that improbable, phenomenal greenway facility.

“That exact park had a big variety of greenways and I believed: ‘I’ve received to try to see if I can get by means of certainly one of these [gates] simply to see if I can’.”

“It’s extra that it simply stops it being an energetic journey route and it stops it from being straightforward to go from A to B to C rapidly, safely and simply.”

A spokeswoman for SDCC instructed The Journal that the council ”regrettably” needed to set up the gates at numerous places in recent times, together with at Dodder Valley Park, as a result of the usage of scramblers and quad bikes was “placing park customers at risk”.

“It’s unsatisfactory that the unlawful operation of scrambler motorbikes in public parks continues to be a problem within the county,” an announcement learn.

“It’s hoped that the introduction of latest laws within the space within the close to future will give the Gardaí the powers they should handle this challenge extra successfully by enabling them to grab and destroy scramblers when required.”

Nonetheless, Palmer Babe questioned this.

“The humorous factor is, the kissing gate goes up greater than the precise wall does. So if I used to be younger, and I got here to that wall, then the very first thing I’d do is chuck the scrambler over the wall,” he stated.

Dodder Valley Park covers various electoral areas in Dublin, and unbiased councillor for the Firhouse-Bohernabreena space Alan Edge instructed The Journal that he has put down a movement to name for the removing of the kissing gates in his locality as a result of lack of accessibility for disabled individuals.

However he stated that residents in Tallaght have opposed the removing of the gates because of issues with scramblers.

“To be truthful to them, there have been issues with scramblers and folks’s lives had been made depressing. My response to that will be that kissing gates don’t stop scramblers. If a scrambler needs to get in, they’ll get in,” he stated.

It’s actually, to my thoughts, concerning the stability of hurt. I feel if we’ve wheelchair customers, individuals in tailored wheelchairs and Ellis, sadly, isn’t the primary to face this drawback, then it’s an issue that we merely should sort out, and that’s going to imply some troublesome conversations round this. However they’re conversations we have to have.

An modification to the Legal Justice (Public Order) (Quadbikes and Scramblers) Invoice 2021 which goals to provide Gardaí the facility to grab scramblers and quad bikes when getting used unlawfully has handed the second stage of debate within the Dáil. 

However Edge stated that there’s an “pressing want” for more durable laws with regards to scramblers. 

“I don’t assume it’s a tenable place for us to be locking individuals out, successfully, till the Authorities does its job as regards controlling scramblers I simply don’t assume that’s a viable possibility,” he stated.

Adjustable gate

The SDCC spokeswoman additionally stated the kissing gates within the park is not going to be a everlasting fixture, and that when new laws is in place and being applied, SDCC will overview the place and “hopefully take away these controls”.

She stated the council has lately trialled an adjustable kissing gate, which may function as a kissing gate when mandatory, however in different instances may be left open.

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“This modification is being examined in relation to some entry factors in Dodder Valley Park. It’ll solely be doable, nevertheless, to depart such gates open when there isn’t a longer a menace of entry to the park by scramblers,” she added.

Palmer Babe stated that there was good work accomplished by the council to take away kissing gates and boundaries in sure areas already.

“I imply, it’s not about eradicating all of them. Positive, you might need to maintain just a few of these kissing gates to cease the scramblers, that’s grand, however perhaps have not less than one or two entrances and exits from that property the place you may get in simply, as a result of in the intervening time you’re simply sort of hemmed in. There’s no approach you may get off to the following bit,” he stated.

That’s nonetheless a gate that you simply might need to open should you’re attempting to journey independently as a disabled individual, should you’re attempting to pop to the outlets by your self or something like that. Not truly having a key system or having one thing in place simply implies that disabled individuals grow to be reliant on non-disabled individuals, slightly than having the ability to do issues as independently as they’ll and will do.

“I do perceive that there are issues about delinquent behaviour, however finally , in regulation, there may be proper for affordable lodging for disabled individuals with regards to public infrastructure, and it’s disappointing to see however this hasn’t been thought-about on what’s in any other case wonderful route,” he stated.

Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) says that States ought to take acceptable measures to allow individuals with disabilities to reside independently and take part totally in all facets of life.

It particularly calls on States to make sure that individuals with disabilities can entry bodily environments, transportation and different services and companies that are open and supplied to the general public “on an equal foundation with others”.

A spokesperson for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Fee (IHREC) instructed The Journal stated the fee famous the obligations of the council as a public physique underneath the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Obligation.

“All public our bodies in Eire have accountability to advertise equality, stop discrimination and shield the human rights of their workers, clients, service customers and everybody affected by their insurance policies and plans,” an announcement stated.

“It is a authorized obligation, referred to as the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Obligation, and it originated in Part 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014.”

SDCC spokeswoman added that it could be preferable to not should spend cash on the gates and boundaries to guard customers and parks services/pitches from the unlawful use of automobiles in these areas.

“The council continues to work with An Garda Síochána and the elected members to get rid of this criminality and works with all customers to enhance secure entry to parks and public areas,” the spokeswoman stated.

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