IT may have been nearly 28 year ago, but the legacy of the Paralympic games to Barcelona’s transportation structure still lives on.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office have just published a second short film that showcases the transportation legacy of the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games.
The film, part of the “Transforming Lives Makes Sense for Everyone” campaign, focuses on some of the post-Games accessibility improvements made in transportation.
The transport arrangements laid on for Para athletes during the Games provided a glimpse of how the integrated transport system of the future would look like.
Before the Paralympics, the city’s infrastructure and transport was not accessible for persons with disabilities.
David Esudé, Barcelona’s Councillor for Sports, said: “If Barcelona wanted to rank high as a modern city, accessibility was key. The phrase ‘Universal Accessibility’ was coined.
“Many initiatives improved mobility and access around the city. The port and the airport, the ring roads that we still use today.”
A fleet of 88 low-decker buses provided by several Spanish city councils for use during the Games was seen as out-of-the-ordinary. Today, accessible buses are the norm and the Metropolitan Transport of Barcelona (TMB) currently has a 100 per cent accessible bus fleet.
Carlos Casamor, Barcelona City Hall Chief of Urban Projects, said: “The public transport system; all of it is accessible: buses, metro, trams, the cable car, bicycles, taxis… Metro stations, bus shelters, ticket machines have Braille instructions, audio-visual prompts, special surfacing and keyboards.”
Paralympic swimming bronze medallist Jordi Mara added: “People with disabilities can now use public transport. The metro and the train networks now provide wheelchair access.”
The Barcelona metro network is now wheelchair adapted, except in 15 of 156 stations. There are voice-guided ticket vending machines throughout the network, tactile paving strips for the blind and door closing warning lights on an increasing number of trains. Three new terminals were brought into service at Barcelona El Prat Airport for Barcelona 92 and new measures were put in place to transfer wheelchair users from aircraft.
Spanish Paralympic Committee President Miguel Carballeda Piñeiro said: “The Paralympics brought about a new way of living in the city. It set an example to the world of how to live in harmony.
“Today we take it for granted, as if it’s always been in place. I think it’s been a lasting, permanent legacy.
The first short film in the series about Barcelona 1992 was published to coincide with the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December.
The “Transforming Lives Makes Sense for Everyone” campaign was launched in 2018, showcasing the positive impact the London 2012 Paralympic Games had on employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in Great Britain.
In May 2019 the campaign won a UN SDG Action Campaign award. The campaign highlights how the IPC’s activities and the Paralympic Games advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In October 2019 the IPC committed to increase the visibility of the SDGs throughout the Paralympic Movement and at upcoming Paralympic Games, while helping to change the narrative of disability.