Narrow pavements, potholes and obstructed paths can make access difficult for pedestrians at the best of times — but if you’re in an electric wheelchair, such issues can make journeys dangerous or even impossible.
That’s why Alistair Slade reports them on FixMyStreet. He knows he’s not the only one who might be forced into oncoming traffic because of overgrown hedges; or where obstructions designed to keep out traffic will also prevent him from getting any further. The same problems beset anyone on a mobility scooter or in a wheelchair.
Tree roots making the pavement surface uneven, or verges encroaching onto the walkway can bring a very real risk of his chair tipping over. And if a dropped kerb is missing or just too high, Alistair may well be unable to cross the road.
Some of the photos Alistair has included with his reports: click on each one to see it at a larger size. These may look like ordinary pathways… until you try to see them through the eyes of someone in an electric wheelchair.
Everyone should have equal access to pedestrian routes — in fact, this right is inscribed in the Equality Act of 2010, as we discovered when we spoke to the Heavy Metal Handcyclist in 2010.
And this FixMyStreet user’s local council must now be much better informed about such barriers to access. Alistair, who was once Deputy Mayor, makes regular reports, generally attaching a photograph to clearly convey what the the world looks like from the seat of a wheelchair.
His most notable success was the removal of anti-cycling bars that were too close for electric wheelchairs to get through — but he continues to report all the issues he discovers, making his little patch of the world safer for every type of traveller.
We hope that others will do the same: after all, wheelchair users shouldn’t have to do all the hard work needed to ensure they can get around. If you see an issue that makes access difficult, hop onto FixMyStreet and get it reported. Your local wheelchair users will be glad!
Banner image: Markus Spiske; all other photos by Alistair Slade.