Trend Watch July 2021

This German Grandma builds wheelchair ramps from Lego:

Rita Ebel is making wheelchair ramps out of LEGO bricks to make her town of Hanau, in Germany, more accessible. “For me it is just about trying to sensitise the world a little bit to barrier-free travel,” Ebel told Reuters. She has been using a wheelchair since she was involved in a car accident 25 years ago.

Helped by her husband, Ebel often spends two to three hours a day building the made-to-order ramps which contain hundreds of the small plastic bricks secured with around eight tubes of glue.

The bright colours stand out in town centres says Rita, who has been nicknamed ‘Lego Oma’, or ‘Lego Grandma.’ “Nobody just walks past a Lego ramp without taking a look,” she said. “Whether it’s children who try to get the bricks out or adults who take out their mobile phones to take pictures.”

The ramps have been enthusiastically received by residents and local businesses. “It’s a brilliant idea,” said Malika El Harti, who received a ramp for her hair salon. “Everyone who walks past is happy about the ramps. Finally, you can see from afar that you can get in here without any problems.”

The idea is starting to catch on in other places. Eber has sent ramp building instructions to Switzerland, Austria and has had interest from a school in the US.

Read more on Reuters, and Ability Magazine.

Image: Reuters.

Rita Ebel tries a ramp she built for a business in Hanau, Germany. Photo: Ability Magazine.

Tactical urbanism comes of age:

One clear lesson from the pandemic: experimentation with streets may yield tremendous benefits with less downside than previously thought, writes Robert Steuteville for the Congress for New Urbanism.

During the pandemic restaurants have needed increased outdoor dining capacity. As riders stayed away from public transit, demand for bicycle infrastructure rose. As urban dwellers sought to get outdoors while socially distancing, public space was at a premium. Cities responded by closing streets to allow tables in the public right of way and installing temporary bike lanes and parklets.

Steuteville describes case studies in Boston and Norkfolk, Virigina, in the US, that fast-tracked such interventions and have experienced ongoing benefits – read more in the article on the Public Square CNU Journal.

Image: Utile.

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