Walking in the city Centre can turn into a nightmare

Walking in the city Centre can turn into a nightmare

Blog post by Loredana Dicsi, Membership, Internal Communication and Youth Officer

This summer for holidays I went back to my home country Romania where the first week I spent it in Cluj the city where I went to school and university.

Cluj is the second or third largest city in Romania, a very progressive one, that was Youth capital in 2019 and last year nominated for the Technical City. In terms of accessibility there is more and more done. The busses have loud speakers inside that announce the stops, the bus stops also at each stop, and they have outside loud speaker to announce the number and direction. In any case better then in Leuven where I leave and no announcement on the bus. They placed also even in outskirts areas sound trafficlights andtaktile markers for the crossways. They have recently placed bykones to help guiding blind and partially sighted to reach the city hall and other important points. How useful the system is the views are diverse and myself I haven’t yet experienced it.

In August when I was there I heard from people that the city Center became quite inaccessible because they change pipes and the walking sides were broken. One day coming back from somewhere I needed to take my bus back from one of the bustops that was on that area. I cannot describe how the walking side looked, on both sides it was open, partially stones were placed back, but the place where the cover of the cannal was wide open, fifty meter further again pure ground so to pass there it was a slalom between the pile of stones that were to be placed the covered areas ant the pure open areas. I was with someone and I remember I told her: “this is terrible someone will breack its lang in the best scenario case. I forgot to say that the busses were using those stops, and there was nothing to signal the works or the wholes were not covered.

Recently I speak with my brother, he is also almost blind and telss me: “Do you know that your best friend has broken her lag?” I was surprised and asked how that happened. He explained me she falled in one of those wholes and broke her lag that has been earlier some years operated.

My friend is totally blind with also some mobility difficulties. She works in the school for the blind in Cluj and takes the bus every day to go to work. The bus stop is not in the broken area, because the City did not managed to have finished the works by the start of the school as planned. So my friend went as soon as she could at the police to complain. They asked her to present a widness and thanks to her post on facebook a lady who saw her went to the police. She even went back to the placeof happenings and could take a relevant photo that showed the state of works and where she fall.  My friend complained further at the City because it is their works, but nothing. The direction of the school made also a report, and I hope they will do something with it. Just six years ago another blind teacher fall in in a similar kind of hall, at works that were taking place during that time. And now they have opened also a big hole in front of the school for the blind that stays open.

I cannot understand how can a city ignore the safety of its citizens. For baby carriages wheelchair it is inaccessibility, for persons using cruches is dangers, for blind people it is fatallike in the case of my friend and the teacher who had the same experience some years back.

The press was very sensitive that time back and now too, but it didn’t have much effect on the local authorities. They haven’t improved at their way of working.

Why do they need to open both sides at once? I lived in my region with such works for one year and a half, and I can say it was not easy, but it was safe. They did first one part, and then the other side. Thus you could always go safely. It was annoying because when you learned a way, it changed again, but at no moment did I fear that I will have an accident.  And when a bustop was open, then it was out of service for that period.

I just wish that my friend has the courage and the necessary support to go to end and that local authorities are properly punished. They must take up responsibility and address properly safety when they open the walk sides and signal it in a visible and accessible way. This is even more important when the city is aming to become cultural capital in the near future. And as I have lived there for 17 years I know well the city and there are many nice points to visit. I hope they will be progressive also in safety and become an EU cultural capital.

More Information

Read the article published in the local press in romanian