Saturday, February 16, 2008

Surviving a Manitoba winter can be a challenge - especially if you are visually impaired. For some "crazy" reason Manitoba Public Insurance won't allow legally blind people to drive. I've been co-piloting for drivers for years and love telling people where to go - but they won't let me behind the wheel! If you are lucky enough to be able to drive you probably don't get how hard it is to get around. Yes I can take Winnipeg Transit and I do on a regular basis but if I stand in the bus shelter to stay a little warmer while waiting for my bus, then I LITERALLY cannot see the bus coming and the driver may not see me in the shelter, let alone know that I want that particular bus. Sometimes a stranger will tell me which bus is coming but I can't rely on that.

So for those of us who are blind or blinks (legally blind) we put on an extra layer and stand AT the bus stop and enjoy the winter elements in all their glory! If the bus is more or less on time (hopefully we remembered to call Telebus before we left home), we should only be standing there a few minutes. This may not seem like a lot of time but when it is -30C with a windchill of -45C that can get a touch nippy!

Walking to and from the bus stops isn't exactly a picnic either. Were the sidewalks plowed evenly? Is there ice under that layer of fresh snow? Have the mounds of snow on the boulevards (courtesy of street plows dumping there) been knocked onto the sidewalk or has the sidewalk plow made another pass to clean that up? Are the streets and walkways icy? Depending on how cold it is I'll have to put my hood up which means that I can't rely on my hearing to help me navigate safely. The more layers that you have on, the harder it is to move and keep your balance. My glasses keep fogging up. Even with sunglasses the sun and/or white snow and/or the exhaust is making it impossible to see. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

Sounds like fun doesn't it? Yeah right - but thousands of us brave the elements this way on a regular basis. We don't want to be dependant on the kindness of strangers to get from A to B, but you can help.

If you're driving, don't try turning while pedestrians are trying to cross and don't stop so far into the intersection that we have to walk into oncoming traffic.

If you are standing at a bus stop and see someone with a white cane or a guide dog ASK if they need any assistance finding the right bus.

If you are walking and see a blind person/blink move out of their way. Depending on that persons level of sight or mobility, they may not know you are even there until they run into you.

Common courtesy - yes - but when it's cold or we're in a hurry we tend to be a little less than "Friendly Manitobans" Yes spring is coming (which creates a whole new set of problems - to be discussed at a later date!), but we still have several weeks of winter left. So let's be careful out there!

Venting is good. Thanks for reading and thanks for stopping by!


PS: sorry for any spelling errors. Blogger spell check isn't functioning at the moment.


videonick said...

Hello there. I made my first visit to the blog and I just had to comment on the joys of winter navigation in the fair city of winnipeg.

Yes, the snow layers, ice fields, plow mounds and frozen bus stop pads are such fun. Our winter wonderland certainly leaves us with things to talk about. I look forward to Tuesday's -41C wind chill for my bus trip to work. McPhillips is a damned cold street to wait for a bus on.

I am looking forward to spring, and its set of navigational joys. I anticipate your treatise on that.

Have a good day and the blog is great. I should do one. Some day. :-)

dnsyl57 said...

Thanks videonick - nice to know I have at least one fan out there. Yes you should definitely start your own blog, as I KNOW you have some great stories and insights to share! I'll gladly put a link to your blog on mine and give you a shoutout when you start! : -)