Vancouver is taking the lead in getting rid of something that many people didn't realize was problematic: the lowly doorknob. The city has already replaced knobs with levers—which are much easier for elderly or people with disabilities to operate—in public buildings, and the city's building code will require all new housing to be built with door levers starting in March, reports the Vancouver Sun, which notes that changes made in the city often spread to building codes across the country. Water faucets will have to take the shape of levers, not knobs, as well.
The move is based on the concept of "universal design," which aims to make spaces usable for as many people as possible, a University of British Columbia professor explains. "A really simple version is the cut curbs on every corner," he says. "That helps elderly people, people with visual impairments, moms with strollers. It makes a sidewalk that could otherwise be difficult for parts of the population universally accessible." But doorknobs aren't going to completely die out, predicts the president of the Antique Door Knob Collectors of America. He says it seems like "overreach" to require private homes to be built with levers instead of knobs, although homeowners are free to replace levers with knobs if they choose. (Click to read about another unusual housing ban.)