Footpath in need of repair Image by Marie Vonow
People are told to walk more for the benefit of their health and the good of the environment. Older people are told they should remain physically active and walking is one of the best forms of exercise. People with disabilities of all types, including those who rely on a wheelchair or electric gopher/scooter, are living in the community rather than a care facility these days. We are told it is better for them and the idea is that they be involved in their local community. All well and good, but sometimes the footpaths are inadequate or downright dangerous. In some places they are non existent.
I enjoy walking and because I do not have a car I walk most places. This means I am more aware of footpaths than people who use a car.
Over the years I have pushed a pram, stroller and also a wheelchair on footpaths in various locations. I have noticed how poor the provision for those who walk or push prams and wheelchairs is in some places.
People who are independent but need to use a wheelchair or electric scooter are sometimes confined to their homes because there are no footpaths or they are in poor repair. Yes, sometimes those with motorised scooters or wheelchairs are able to travel on the roadway but this is often unsafe.
Electric wheelchairs Imasge courtesy of Pixabay
Parking lots at shopping centres are set up for cars and their drivers, not surprisingly. However, if you have walked to the shops you will probably have to walk on the roadway to enter and leave. Alternatively, you may need to step over the curb and navigate your way between shrubs. If you have brought a pull along trolley or cart to do your shopping, this will be tricky. If you have a baby in a pram it will be impossible so you have to use the roadway and dodge the cars.
Petrol stations are designed for cars which is logical. However, people who don't have a car may go to the nearest petrol outlet to pick up a few groceries or a newspaper. There are no footpaths so pedestrians have to dodge cars. This is particularly hazardous for older people (or a younger person with a mobility disability) with a walker who may move slowly.
Having lawn in front of your house all the way to the road may look attractive but it can make walking difficult. Again, it is awkward for someone with a pram or a carer pushing a manual wheelchair.It may be impossible for a person using an electric wheelchair or scooter, especially when the ground slopes.
Although lawn all the way to the roadway looks attractive it is difficult for pedestrians and wheelchair users Image courtesy of Pixabay
For people to be able to walk more, there need to be enough footpaths, constructed from concrete or bitumen which are well maintained without tripping hazards. If older people and those with mobility issues are to be able to be part of their community they need to be able to use footpaths.