A campaign to highlight the plight of wheechair users in the city has been launched by a disability activist.
Mary Kinane, who uses an outdoor electric wheelchair, says she faces daily challenges navigating Lancaster’s pavements and roads, with poor access and a lack of dropped kerbs forcing her to travel further to get where she wants to go.
Mary, who suffers from the late effects of polio (LEP) recently took Jon Barry, Green Party city councillor for the Marsh, on the first of several walkabouts, covering the route from Lancaster railway station at West Road to Marsh Community Centre in Willow Lane.
Coun Barry said: “The problems started almost immediately. There are few properly dropped kerbs on the left side of West Road at key ‘radius’ points. We had to meander almost halfway back along Fairfield Road, just to cross over it, before we found a level enough drop to the road from the pavement. We then had to double back to re-join West Road and continue our walk to Willow Lane.”
Mary said this route includes stretches of old and broken paving, much of which, she says, hasn’t been repaired or replaced for many years.
Mary is part of Kerbs4All, a campaign for improved pavements, kerb drops and joined up routes for people living with mobility and/or sensory impairment.
She added: “Some of us have been campaigning for many years, sitting on national committees, with charities whose funding has since been cut; writing to county councillors with varying degrees of response ranging from none at all to quite positive.
“However, even when we get the attention of the authority which can make a difference, issues are too often addressed in a piecemeal fashion, if at all. Many parts of the city and suburbs remain inaccessible to people like me because local authorities, local businesses and other service providers are not meeting the requirements of the Equality Act 2010”.
Dan Chalmers, highways manager for Lancaster, said: “We do try to provide dropped kerbs at appropriate crossing points, and add to the existing network whenever resources are available.
“We have introduced new dropped kerbs at a number of locations throughout Lancaster district this year in response to specific requests and will look to incorporate new ones on West Road in future programmes.
“In the meantime we will arrange for footways on West Road to be inspected and repair any defects that require urgent attention.”
“In terms of longer term maintenance, we use survey data to identify the right time in the lifecycle of roads and pavements to carry out treatments to extend their life, and allocate our limited resources accordingly.
“The Lancaster district highways and transport masterplan proposes a Lancaster city movement study to identify options for improving the way all modes of transport are managed, and as part of this we will look at how we support access for people with disabilities.”