Kerbs endanger wheelchair users

South Dunedin woman Fiona Russell said the kerb-cutting at the Cargill's Corner intersection is dangerous, and puts people who use wheelchairs in danger of being hit by a turning vehicle. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
South Dunedin woman Fiona Russell said the kerb-cutting at the Cargill's Corner intersection is dangerous, and puts people who use wheelchairs in danger of being hit by a turning vehicle. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
A wheelchair user fears for her safety if nothing is done to improve the kerbs at a busy South Dunedin intersection.

Dunedin woman Fiona Russell says trying to navigate the Hillside Rd and King Edward St intersection in her wheelchair can be dangerous.

Often her chair will get stuck between the gutter and kerbing, leaving her vulnerable to turning vehicles because the kerb-cut on to the footpath was too steep and slippery.

A lack of kerb-cutting in King Edward St also meant wheelchair users often had to leave the kerb and ride on the road to get into and out of taxis, she said.

While it might seem like a small issue for able-bodied people, it could be a big impediment for people who needed to use a wheelchair.

''I hope they [the council] hurry up and look into it very shortly.''

Ms Russell said when she complained to the Dunedin City Council about the issue she was told there were no plans to upgrade the kerbing in the area until 2030.

But improvements will now be made this summer.

Council transport engineering and road safety team leader Hjarne Poulsen said staff were aware of the issues at the intersection and improvements would be made this spring and summer.

Several reseals on top of each other had made the crossing points steeper than they should be, which had caused the access issue, Mr Poulsen said.

The surface road layer in King Edward St will be removed and replaced and the work would include making sure there were suitable mobility crossings at the intersection, he said.

Disability advocate Chris Ford said a lack of kerb-cutting was a citywide issue, but was a major concern in South Dunedin, where there was a higher proportion of people with disabilities.

There was a similar issue in Kaikorai Valley Rd where there were kerb-cuts on only one side of the road, which made it difficult for people in wheelchairs to simply cross the street, Mr Ford said.

A lack of adequate kerb-cuts was an issue the Dunedin branch of the Disabled Persons' Assembly was working with the council to fix, he said.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

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