Unsafe footpaths appal wheelchair user, but Auckland Transport says they're fine

Rikki McGregor says the footpaths around Devonport on the North Shore, Auckland, such as this one on Lake Rd in Belmont, ...
DENISE PIPER/STUFF

Rikki McGregor says the footpaths around Devonport on the North Shore, Auckland, such as this one on Lake Rd in Belmont, are dangerous for people in wheelchairs.

Wheelchair user Rikki McGregor is "appalled" at the state of some of the footpaths in his Auckland suburb of Narrow Neck and he is not alone.

McGregor regularly encountered obstacles in the streets surrounding his home as he went about his daily business.

"I've been over some of these things on two wheels, sideways and just about tipping over."

Footpath in Bayswater Ave on Auckland's North Shore.
FELICITY REID/STUFF

Footpath in Bayswater Ave on Auckland's North Shore.

The uneven surfaces made a ride to the shops a bit like "off-roading", McGregor said.

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McGregor had been in a wheelchair for about 18 months, due to his bones deteriorating from dialysis treatment and his movement being affected by a stroke.

"I got a hell of a fright when I first got into the chair; I didn't realise how unsafe it was," he said.

McGregor wanted Auckland Transport staff and town planners to get in a wheelchair and try in for themselves.

"It's not until you have to be in one of these [a wheelchair] that you realise how bad it is."

Convenor of advocacy organisation Living Streets North Shore Gay Richards agreed the Belmont section of the Lake Rd footpath, outside McDonalds, is not fit for purpose.

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"It is narrow, poorly patched with deteriorating asphalt and poorly lit," she said.

In nearby Bayswater, Richards identifies footpaths in Bayswater Ave and Beresford St as being in a "terrible state".

Richards' mother tripped in Beresford St a year or so ago, leading to further knee surgery, and Richards came off her push scooter on Bayswater Ave because of the uneven surface.

Richards said the poor standard of footpaths throughout Auckland was a concern.

"AT [Auckland Transport] is mostly doing a good job with new footpaths, but is very poor on maintenance."

Yet AT's own survey found almost all North Shore footpaths were in good condition and wouldn't get maintenance work for more than a decade, including the section of Lake Rd mentioned by McGregor and Richards.

AT gives the footpath network a routine inspection each year and, from there, footpath faults are identified for any maintenance required.

AT media advisor James Ireland said inspections are also done when AT is notified by members of the public or other authorities about possible issues.

"If it's an immediate health and safety issue, this is done within an hour. If it's not a health and safety issue, this is done within three days. However, some contractors are required to do these inspections sooner than three days, for example, if it's a high foot-traffic area," Ireland said.

In the north of Auckland, there are 1660km of footpaths.  

According to AT's latest survey results 96.8 per cent of footpaths on the North Shore were in very good condition.

Very good is deemed to be unlikely to need major work within 10 to 15 years, no patches of different materials, no uneven surfaces, cracks no wider than 1mm, no eroded cobblestones, uniform width and colour of surface.

 

 

 - Stuff

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