WATCH ABOVE: A young Montrealer was put on display – against her will – recently, when her wheelchair got stuck in the turnstiles at Lionel-Groulx metro. Rachel Lau has the story.
MONTREAL – Aimee Louw has never really enjoyed taking the metro.
That sentiment was enforced after she got stuck going through a metro gate designed specifically for wheelchairs.
“I was trying not to panic,” she said.
Louw’s leg was resting on a raised footrest and was trapped when the red gates closed.
It took over five minutes for her to be freed from what she now calls the red jaws of public transit.
“He came over and he didn’t know how to open it,” recalled Louw.
“It ended up being one of the STM travelers coming through who pulled the gate open and then she continued to tell me that that in fact had happened to her 3 year old boy who was in a carriage.”
Louw has reduced mobility, but isn’t usually confined to a wheelchair.
It’s because of a broken femur that she found herself in this unusual situation.
Now, she’s demanding the STM improve accessibility for all disabled people.
“This incident just points out more of a larger trend of the STM, which is like the extreme inaccessibility and I mean like my friends and I who are in wheelchairs have stories from everyday that we travel.”
Laurence Parent, Vice-President of RAPLIQ, says she wasn’t surprised when she heard about the incident.
RAPLIQ is an activist group that fights for disabled people’s rights.
They has been working for years to get the STM to change its system.
“We filed a complaint at the Human Rights Commission,” said Parent.
“We have tried to work with the STM and talk with them but we realized that we didn’t, it was very difficult.”
A spokesperson for the STM called the incident unfortunate, but told Global News, it’s not something that happens often.
According to the transit authority efforts to increase accessibility have been in the works for decades.
A plan for universal access was supposed to be completed by 2015, but funding for the project is lacking.
Louw wants to start seeing changes in the STM’s attitude to people with reduced mobility.
“Transportation is a right,” said Louw.
“It’s defined by the United Nations in a declaration that Canada signed on to. They say it’s a financial or economic problem I think that it’s just a lack of interest on the whole from the STM and the city.”
In the meantime Louw herself is having to make the extra effort to ensure she can still get around.