Nobody Panic, But Vancouver Has Banned Door Knobs

We don’t have much time. Are you in Vancouver, in a room? Is the door closed? Okay. Now is there a door knob or a lever on that closed door? Don’t panic but if you’re in that room come March, you will have no way out if there’s a door knob on that door. Fine, not really, but the city has banned door knobs in favor of levers and push pads, so in the future a lever will be your only way out.

How in the what and the who in the huh — how can a city get rid of an entire design? Vancouver can and did. And since it’s the only city in Canada with its own building code, that sets it up as a sort of arbiter of taste for the rest of British Columbia. Now that legislators there have tweaked the code to get rid of the ubiquitous knob by March, it’s likely others across the country will as well, reports the Toronto Sun.

See, levers and push pads are easier to operate when your hands are busy carrying things (like poutine maybe, yum, good job with that one, Canada). All knobs will be on the outs, including the kind that turn water faucets on and off. That means no fancy porcelain or glass door dongles in your home, no polished metal or any other circular openers and closers.

There won’t be a door knob police squad busting into homes however, just all new housing construction will have to comply with the updated code and use lever handles and faucets. So if you’ve got a knob, you can keep it. Cherish it, call it your precious, whatever you want.

But anyone moving into a new place, don’t expect the knob to greet you with its circular little face. Some see that as going too far, including a Yankee with a certain affection for the things.

“I can understand if you have a public building where everybody wants to have free access and that is a problem,” the president of the Antique Door Knob Collectors of America tells the paper. “But to say that when I build my private home and nobody is disabled that I have to put levers on, strikes me as overreach.”

But a professor and director of the School of Social Work at the University of B.C. says it’s more about opening up the world to everyone and not keeping anyone out.

“Basically, the idea is that you try to make environments that are as universally usable by any part of the population,” he said. “The old model was adaptation, or adapted design. You took a space and you adapted for use of the person with a disability. What universal design says is let’s turn it around and let’s just build everything so it is as usable by the largest segments of the population as possible.”

Vancouver’s ban on the humble doorknob likely to be a trendsetter [Toronto Sun]

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