[ASC-media] Bridging the gap to public transport access

sarah at scienceinpublic.com sarah at scienceinpublic.com
Wed May 11 00:03:10 EST 2005


About five million Australians (one in four) stand to gain from an automatic
ramp invented by a Brisbane architect that provides safe and easy access to
trains, trams, buses and ferries.

The ramp, which is stored in a small cassette carried by the vehicle or
ferry, automatically unfolds at a stop, bridging the gap to the platform or
dock.

"Wheelchair users, families with toddlers and the elderly, all struggle to
board and leave public transport," says Fresh Innovator Kevin Fullerton. 

"Large gaps and steps of different height steps-some more than 40
centimetres-can make boarding difficult, hazardous and to some, impossible.
The Glidelock ramp can provide these people with newfound freedom and the
confidence to travel."

The Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that about one quarter of the
population falls into these categories of need. Disability legislation in
Australia, North America and Europe stipulates that public transport cannot
discriminate against wheelchair users.

"The present system of manually placed ramps does not comply with this
legislation, and the currently available automatic ramps are too large to
attach to existing trains without major structural alterations," Kevin says.


"My ramp retracts into a compact cassette only 11 cm high and 16 cm deep,
and can easily be bolted under the train's doorstep." 

The Glidelock ramp can also closes the dangerous gap between a train and
platform when they are the same level.  No other ramps are capable of this
function. 

"The multi-plate system assembles itself inside the cassette as it extends
and finds the platform level so there are no moving parts exposed. Built-in
sensors can detect if the ramp is obstructed, and stop it." 

The ramp can be activated by the guard or driver or can be programmed for
automatic deployment at all stops.

Kevin has applied for patent protection and, with the assistance of the
Triton Foundation-a national not-for-profit organisation that assists
inventors in commercialising their ideas-is confident of obtaining licensing
agreements with manufacturers to capitalize on the huge potential of
overseas rail markets.  

The invention of Glidelok won Kevin a place at Fresh Innovators, a national
initiative to bring the work of early career innovators to public attention.
As one of the 16 finalists Kevin has received media and presentation
training and is now talking to the media, schools and business about his
ramp. 

One of the 16 will win a study tour to the UK courtesy of the British
Council Australia.

More information or interview: Kevin Fullerton, (07) 3893 2990 / 0412 510
516 /   kfullerton at bigpond.com

Photos available online at www.freshinnovators.org

Prototype demonstration available.


Media contacts for Fresh Innovators: Niall Byrne 03 5253 1391 and Sarah
Brooker 0413 332 489



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