Friday, December 17, 2010

Stay Out Late

Stay Out Late
Disabled access to local hotspots to be focus of August rallyBusiness Lexington July 2009
Joe Gillespie
LEXINGTON, KY - Members of Lexington's disabled community want to "join the party" and enjoy the new restaurants and night spots opening downtown. For the physically handicapped however, this environment can be less than welcoming. Project Easy Access and the Latitudes Art Community are holding a "Stay Out Late Rally" August 3rd, at Triangle Park. Bruce Burris, co-founder of Latitude, hopes this event will make the public aware of the situation.

"A disabled person," says Burris, "has to cross a minefield, to get inside a bar for a drink and entertainment." Serious imperfections in sidewalks called "cuts" are perilous for those in wheelchairs. Entrances to some venues have doors that open outward and can be hard to navigate. LexTran which is important to this audience, has less service later in the evening .

Burris says LexTran and most businesses are following the "letter of the law," but are unaware of the hardship posed for potential customers. Lexington's streetscape plan is expected to solve some of the problems and LexTran is making some modifications. He says the disabled are often an unseen population but with some attention to easier access they will become more involved and be good for business.

He points to the success the city has had in attracting cyclists to downtown. "Several years ago," he says, "a cyclist was a rare sight." Now the bike lanes, and special considerations, have changed that and had a positive impact on business. This can be an example for the issues with the disabled, he continues.

The rally on August 3rd, is being held to foster positive communications. Hours are from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM. Comments from council members, as well as entertainment are on the agenda. Short walking tours will allow attendees to experience some of the problems faced by the disabled downtown.