January 25th, 2011

Our duty to be squeaky wheels

Oh didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Sydney.
Stinking hot day,
trains were delayed,
and everyone fought on the way.

The problem, you see, is that Sydney's trains were designed by a 55 year old diabetic dude who in his heart of heart believes everyone should be like him. Cyclists, the partially sighted, the hearing impaired, the less ambulant, babies in prams: we don't exist. As a result bicycles swing from inappropriate hooks thumping the partially sighted, folded strollers sit in crowded aisles tripping the elderly, the hearing impaired and safe crackers alike have no idea what that voice just said on the PA (did he really say the train has broke down?), tempers fray, and then come the fights. (If you are reading and recall  the words "misogynist coward" being yelled at you yesterday on the 8.03 Newcastle to Sydney train as it pulled into Strathfield, do track me down. I wish to defend my Primrose's honour the seventeenth-century way.)
We took our bikes so we could enjoy the cyclespace of Olympic Park while the kids rode ramps at Monster Skate Park. I didn't get photos of the chaos on the trains I'm sorry. My hands were too full.  

However, those to whom I must take the sword of my penmanship, are the diabetic 55 year olds* designing the trains, the overhead passes, the buildings with out-of-sight bike racks or no racks at all, the parks with no signage, and the dozens of supposedly harmless little oversights that added up to a shitty day for my family. And we are the type who can return to using our car when we next jolly, for whom taking our bikes on the train was not a necessity. If we were poor, or impaired and not able to drive, yesterday would be our lives!

I ask, to whom are you beholden as a designer? Some god of engineering efficiency? The god of standardization or quantities of scale?  Some dead Swiss/French or German architect you chose as your hero back in the sixties? Designers treat ways each of us deviate from the norm as another big headache, something else stopping them copying that deadly balustrade they saw in the glossies... this is degenerating into a rant. Better I get my point across by taking my bike everywhere I go now, on trains, to hotels, to conferences, anywhere my mobility has not been considered. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, as they say.

* Dr. Behooving does not support hate speech, and takes no responsibility for vigilante acts against 55 year old diabetic designers, by righteously indignant postmodernists.