Wheelchair users struggling worse than ever due to obstructions on Britain's pavements

New 'pavement furniture' like electric car charging points and street cafes is making life harder for wheelchair users, ITV News Correspondent Rachel Townsend reports

hat is seen as café culture to many of us, can actually blight the daily lives of others.

Today a report commissioned by walking and cycling charity Sustrans found that 41% of disabled people experience problems reaching their destination on a typical walking or wheelchair journey.

This increased to 55% for those with mobility impairments or learning disabilities.

Phil Mears from Macclesfield had a motorbike accident as a teenager and took part in the research.

He told ITV News: “Quite often there is just not enough room for a wheelchair to negotiate table and chairs on streets. What can seem quite innocuous details are quite a big deal for people using wheelchairs.”

'It has and it does, often you will avoid a journey or delegate that journey to someone else just to avoid obstacles,' says Phil Mears when asked if Cafe Culture has ever prevented him from travelling

Sustrans are now calling for disabled people to be included in local council discussions when they’re considering planning proposals.

Xavier Brice, the Chief Executive of Sustrans said: “Putting disabled people at the centre of discussions about how we plan and create spaces where we can all move around easily and safety is vital. The UK government must listen and take action to create places planned around people, not cars.”

Sustrans also want a complete ban of pavement parking after 73% of people researched said that that would help them walk or use wheelchairs more.

The report authors say many feared tripping or failing when attempting to navigate obstacles and parked cars.

Mr Brice continued: “In 2020, the Department for Transport consulted on pavement parking. Three years later, nothing has changed. Now is the time to act.”

In a statement, the Department for Transport told ITV News: “Everyone should have equal opportunities to travel. We’ll continue to work hard to make our streets more accessible, working with local authorities and charities to ensure pavements remain clear wherever possible.”

Electric vehicle charging points have also been highlighted as problematic.

Following the publication of the report, the following recommendations have been made:

  • A new pavement fund, to guarantee councils have the money to cover the upkeep of pavements

  • A UK wide ban on pavement parking

  • For disabled people to be involved in council planning decisions

For many, the changes cannot be made quickly enough, particularly given the fact that many wheelchair users say they feel increasingly reluctant to leave their homes to negotiate every day life.

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