Vancouver has banned doorknobs. Starting in March 2014, all new buildings erected in the city will have to include lever handles on their doors rather than rounded knobs, thanks to a bylaw passed in late September to make Vancouver's housing more accessible to all.
According to the American Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities, doorknobs are a potential barrier of entry for people with disabilities or dexterity issues that the city of Vancouver is evidently keen to remove. Speaking to The Vancouver Sun, Tim Stainton — professor and director of Social Work at the University of British Columbia — explained how the ban showed Vancouver's focus on universal design. "The old model was adapted design," says Stainton. "You took a space and you adapted for use of the person with a disability. What universal design says... is let's just build everything so it is as usable by the largest segments of the population as possible."
Rounded doorknobs are a potential barrier of entry for people with disabilities or dexterity issues
The same September bylaw that banned knobs also introduced construction restrictions that forces new buildings to have lower light switches, wider hallways, and adaptable showers. These local-level restrictions are possible because the Canadian city is the only in the country with the ability to set its own building codes.
For now, Vancouver's ban only applies to door hardware in new buildings, meaning residents with existing knobs need not worry about replacing them. But as The Vancouver Sun notes, the city's practices often influence the rest of the country's building codes, meaning an end to the rounded Canadian doorknob could soon be nigh.