Students urged to share the footpath

Sharing the footpath safely was the aim of an event at Otago Polytechnic recently organised by electric scooter operator Neuron and local disability advocacy group Access for All.

Otago Blind Citizens and Access for All member Simon Fogarty said students were provided with masks and canes and were guided around obstacles to experience how it felt as a blind person navigating streets that could be busy and crowded with cafe tables and chairs.

"But then we throw in the likes of e-scooters and things can get a wee bit more cluttered."

For Mr Fogarty people riding past on an e-scooter was not as much of an issue as when e-scooters were parked or left on the footpath.

"For me personally it is more about where they are randomly left.

"We are not against the e-scooter, we think it is a great tool in this day and age for getting around."

Nursing student Catherine Nicol wears a mask to experience the challenges of navigating Dunedin...
Nursing student Catherine Nicol wears a mask to experience the challenges of navigating Dunedin streets while visually impaired or blind, helped by safety ambassador Harri Deacon and Blind Citizens Otago member Simon Fogarty .PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON

Access for All facilitator John Marrable said as a wheelchair user he was always aware of coming up behind someone and he encouraged people to use the bell as a way of alerting footpath users.

"At least for someone with hearing they would know someone was coming up behind them."

If a person was deaf they would not hear the bell but that was when it came down to user training, to be aware of steering clear of others.

It was "amazing" how many pedestrians would walk by a scooter that had been left or fallen over on the pavement without picking it up, Mr Marrable said.

Neuron city operations manager for Dunedin Madelynn Kite-Bell said the company had consulted with Access for All to ensure their e-scooters were not in the way of people with different access needs.

"One of our principles is to park responsibly on the kerb side of the footpath to make sure you are not blocking access ways."


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