Access hazardous

RISKY: Wheelchair user Dr Huhana Hickey says pedestrians deserve better access along a busy stretch of road.
RISKY: Wheelchair user Dr Huhana Hickey says pedestrians deserve better access along a busy stretch of road.

A lack of footpath is forcing pedestrians to cross the main route to Middlemore Hospital at their own risk.

Disability lawyer and wheelchair user Dr Huhana Hickey wants to see footpaths on both sides of busy Hospital Rd.

"This traffic doesn't care about pedestrians. It's really dangerous," she says.

But a hospital spokeswoman says it's unfeasible.

The portion in question is a 200-metre stretch, which includes an S bend, running from Swaffield Rd to Kidz First Children's Hospital.

There is just one footpath on the western side of the road and pedestrians are competing with 11,500 vehicles a day for safe passage.

"It's an accident waiting to happen," Dr Hickey says.

"We need to be preventative and get proactive now ... or [should we] be retrospective after the accident?"

Dr Hickey lives in nearby Middlemore Cres and needs regular blood tests at the hospital, less than a kilometre from her house.

In the past she could wheel herself to appointments through a hospital car park, avoiding the S bend.

But now a security gate prevents pedestrians from crossing the parking lot.

"It's not just me ... my main concern is our little kids. They're not road savvy so there needs to be a safe way to get across the road or a double footpath to get to the hospital and train station safely."

The two roads in question have seperate masters: Hospital Rd is governed by Counties Manukau Health while Swaffield Rd falls under Auckland Transport's authority.

Health board spokeswoman Lauren Young says the board is unaware of any access issues, and there are no plans to install a footpath along the tricky passage at this stage.

"There is a portion of Hospital Rd that runs alongside the Watercare pump station and along the outside of the S bend car park that does not have a footpath and never has."

Ms Young says the idea isn't feasible because of heavy construction traffic and pump station access causing "a hazard far greater in magnitude than crossing Hospital Rd".

"A path along this part of Hospital Rd and on this side would be a hazard at this point in time for the elderly and disabled. Hence the path on the western side."

On the other side of the issue, Auckland Transport spokewoman Sharon Hunter says a pedestrian survey carried out in August 2012 showed there wasn't enough foot traffic to warrant a pedestrian crossing.

But Dr Hickey, who is chairwoman of Auckland Council's Disability Strategic Advisory Group, says the solution isn't so complicated.

"Why can I not have the same choice as non-disabled people to be able to walk safely to the hospital?

"I could easily go through the car park. If there was CCTV they could allow people to go through there in the day time until the main traffic stops which is about 6pm."

Manukau Courier