#MakeWayDay: 'I'm taking my life in my hands going out onto the road when I should be able to use the path'

A wheelchair user has said he sometimes has to put his life in his hands by going out on the road - because of obstacles on the footpath such as sandwich boards, bins, and parked cars.

#MakeWayDay: 'I'm taking my life in my hands going out onto the road when I should be able to use the path'

A wheelchair user has said he sometimes has to put his life in his hands by going out on the road - because of obstacles on the footpath such as sandwich boards, bins, and parked cars.

Campaigners today took to the streets of cities and towns across Ireland armed with stickers to highlight such impediments as part of Make Way Day, an initiative by the Disability Federation of Ireland.

The low-adhesive stickers were placed on such obstacles to highlight the problems they pose.

Paul Cudmore is one such campaigner who traversed the streets of Cork to show first hand the daily difficulties he faces on the city’s streets.

“Lots of people park on the footpaths or put their wheelie bins out there and don’t realise the paths are too small,” Mr Cudmore told the Irish Examiner.

Wheelchair users and partially sighted people have to go around them, and in some cases go out onto the road to avoid them. We want to highlight that it is an access thing, and make it an issue that people are aware of.

“It is an almighty frustrating experience to have to physically go out onto the road to get around. Cork city’s streets can be quite narrow, and with things like sandwich boards you could be nearly falling off the path trying to stay on it.

“I’m taking my life in my hands going out onto the road when I should be able to use the path,” he said.

Mr Cudmore cited sandwich boards and seating areas outside bars, cafes and other businesses as being problematic for footpath users.

The campaign also received the backing of An Garda Siochana.

“Someone in a powered wheelchair has to either go home or risk their lives on the public road to get around a parked vehicle on a path. Neither outcome is acceptable to the Gardaí,” said Assistant Commissioner for Roads Policing, Dave Sheahan.

“Make Way Day is a chance for all of us to reflect on the needs of people with disabilities in our communities. The Garda Roads Division will increase their vigilance and lower their tolerance of footpath parking for all 365 days of the year in support of the campaign”, said Commissioner Sheahan.

DFI spokesperson Clare Cronin said their campaign aims for an Ireland “where it’s as socially unacceptable to park on the footpath as is it to smoke indoors”.

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