Portsmouth City Council in the UK has launched a new app designed to improve the travel conditions for persons with reduced mobility in the city.
The app, called Route4U, is aimed at wheelchair users and provides them with a route map and navigation system. Route4U provides information on the features of the urban environment that are important for those navigating a city in a wheelchair, including pavement obstacles, the quality of the surface, kerb heights, pavement widths, inclines and travel distances. It includes an option for quickly reporting new obstacles or damage to pavements through a survey function, which should not take users longer than 30 seconds to complete. The app allows for individual customisation and is available for Apple and Android.
Route4U is the product of a joint effort of Portsmouth City Council and the app developers, together with the Portsmouth Disability Forum. The Forum supported the developers by travelling through the city and reporting on the pavement conditions and obstacles for the purpose of the creation of the app. Sharon Smithson, chairperson of the Portsmouth Disability Forum, said: “I’m extremely excited about the launch of the new Route4U app. As a wheelchair user, I and other forum members have experienced frustrating barriers, particularly with pavement obstacles and widths. Backtracking and finding alternative routes can take double the time of a normal journey. The app should establish a positive way for individuals with disabilities to travel around more accessibly, making the whole journey a better experience.”
Pam Turton, assistant director of transport at Portsmouth City Council, voiced the hope that “this free app will give people the confidence to travel more independently and enjoy saving money by being less reliant on their cars for short distances.”
Route4U will also support Portsmouth’s transport planners in improving pavement accessibility. The app includes analysis and decision support tools about problematic bottlenecks and barriers for wheelchair users. The city council can use this information to prioritise pavement maintenance work as well as the improvement of accessibility in general.
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Article published first at Access & Mobility Professional on 28th of June 2019.