Assisted opening

· rants ·

Shop doors usually come in three basic flavours when it comes to opening them. You have your basic manually-operated doors, which can be difficult for people with physical disabilities, especially if the doors are large and heavy. Then you have fully-automatic doors, which usually slide or swing open when you trigger an infra-red proximity sensor or pressure pad, or press a button. More rarely, you come across a hybrid door which can be opened manually, but which also offers automatic opening via a button. All such doors I've come across before don't offer any extra resistance if you open them manually.

Our small local branch of Boots has just been fitted with this type of hybrid doors. However, if you try opening them manually, they are incredibly heavy, even if you are not disabled and reasonably fit. It feels as if the motor is actually acting against your muscles as you pull. Even worse, the button to open the door automatically is small and not easy to find quickly. I'm all in favour of making access to buildings easier for people with disabilities, but this system seems to disadvantage everybody. As you ineffectually haul on the door, you look like an idiotic weakling, but I don't think I've seen anyone who can find the opening button without searching for it for 10 minutes. You get the feeling that Boots doesn't actually want any customers in their shop, making their displays messy and inconveniencing their staff by wanting to buy things.