Tehran Getting Friendlier for Physically-Impaired Citizens
EghtesadOnline: Municipal bodies in Tehran metropolis are becoming more socially responsible and upgrading urban infrastructure to meet the needs of physically-impaired people.
Ali Asghar Eynolqozat, an official with Tehran Municipality, said measures are underway in the capital city to provide the disabled community with more appropriate urban facilities, YJC reported.
“The modification of 500 kilometers of the city’s sidewalks to meet the needs of the physically-challenged people by the current Iranian yearend [March 2021] is high on TM’s agenda,” he said.
“The municipality has also allocated 50 billion rials [$217,000] to modify passenger vans exclusively for the disabled.”
Further explaining TM’s measures, the official noted that work is on track to install vocal notification devices at street junctions and transportation hubs for the visually-impaired people.
Last week, the inauguration of Shahriar Walkway was postponed to give more time to project managers to make the area more disabled-friendly,” he said.
“Special ramps, public toilets and urban furniture are items that can ease the presence of physically-challenged people in public areas. But unfortunately, they are missing in the walkway project.”
The walkway covers an area of 1,500 square meters at the junction of Valiasr-Enqelab streets in Tehran.
Eynolqozat said the absence of disabled people from urban areas is because facilities do not meet their special needs and this shortcoming should be removed.
More to Be Done
Tehran is home to 105,758 disabled people and more needs to be done for making the city more disabled-friendly.
Earlier in an interview with Financial Tribune, Eynolqozat said following a push from Traffic Police a few years ago, railings were installed in Tehran to prevent bikes from entering sidewalks. However, these railings made the pavements inaccessible to people with disabilities, especially wheelchair users.
As per a directive signed by TM, urban managers were tasked with removing these obstacles.
Furthermore, urban infrastructure is to be overhauled to make public transportation stations more convenient to persons with disabilities.
Although Eynolqozat acknowledged the hazards of bikers entering sidewalks, he said this should not lead to setting up barriers that prevent disabled people from using the pavement.
He, however, noted that the railings are to remain in place in areas like Tehran’s Grand Bazaar where vehicles are banned and bikers offering delivery services flout traffic rules and enter pavements.
According to Eynolqozat, in such areas, railings need to remain in place, but access points are to be set up for wheelchair users.
“The same approach is to be implemented in other areas of Tehran. In other words, Tehran will become more disabled-accessible with methodical urban planning,” he said.
The official pointed to TM’s efforts for making public transportation services more accessible to disabled people.
“Hopefully, by the spring of 2020, all subway stations in Tehran will be equipped with elevators,” he said.
According to Eynolqozat, from a total of 169 subway stations in Tehran, elevators need to be installed in 49 stations while others are offering this facility.
Tehran Bus Rapid Transit services, officially inaugurated in 2008, are also being modified to facilitate the movement of disabled people. Ramps are being installed at BRT bus stations to ease access for wheelchair users.
Pointing out that 18,000 blind persons live in Tehran, Eynolghozat said the municipality plans to implement measures for making the capital more convenient to the visually-impaired people.
Bridges will be set up on all open drains across the city. TM is set to use smart traffic signals that are designed to improve the flow of traffic to help pedestrians with visual or other disabilities safely cross streets, or even catch a bus.
Allocation of Funds
On the occasion of the International Day of Disabled Persons observed annually on Dec. 3, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that 10 trillion rials ($43.4 million) have been allocated to implement measures in support of disabled people nationwide.
Many of the plans will focus on modifying urban infrastructures to facilitate their movement and social activities.
Rouhani addressed an event held in Tehran on Tuesday, highlighting the government's plans and efforts to make urban life more convenient for the community.
The gathering was attended by several disabled people and officials in charge of related organizations.
Acknowledging the starring roles of people with disabilities in academic, sports and social fields, Rouhani said, "People with disabilities are distinct from other members of the society in that they live a tougher life and face more restrictions in daily activities."
He said the government should fulfill its duty toward individuals with disabilities and provide them with equal and fair opportunities for living a normal life.
Speaking at the event, President Rouhani said that since he took office for the first time in 2013, large contributions have been made to easing life for people with disabilities, from providing them with subsidized housing to offering financial aid packages.
He also emphasized that fruitful measures have been taken to adjust urban infrastructures for the targeted society, although much work needs to be done to reach an acceptable level.
Fortunately, municipal bodies in Iranian metropolises, from Tehran to Isfahan, are becoming more socially responsible and upgrading urban infrastructure to meet the needs of disabled people.
Mohsen Pourseyyed Aqaei, the former managing director of Transportation and Traffic Organization of Tehran Municipality, said TM has increased the number of parking spaces, especially for people with disabilities, along the roadside and in public parking lots and transportation terminals.
Aqaei noted that special ramps are being installed in stations to ease commutation for those with physical impairments.
“The capital's taxi fleet and stations have also been modified for the convenience of the disabled,” he said.
As a complementary measure, TM launched an online section on its website (Map.tehran.ir) to help disabled individuals locate areas adjusted for their use.
The municipality's Information and Communications Technologies Organization said it is set to launch a smartphone application to include the map of disabled-friendly public places.
Users with physical disabilities can search for a particular site on the interactive map on TM’s website and find out if the place has disabled-friendly facilities.
While municipal officials highlight efforts to ease the movement of disabled people across the city, other official entities need to address the economic, social, cultural and recreational challenges facing these people, which will also contribute to Tehran’s sustainable development. Time will show whether urban managers will walk the talk.