Log In


Reset Password

Traffic flows, the less-abled wait

Opinion Piece

There have been many letters praising the loss of the lights at the Palmerston Road and Peel Street corner.

Yes, it helps the flow of traffic, and everyone seems to be thrilled not to sit for too long waiting to get to the other side. But have you thought about the 27 percent of our community who have a disability, or the aged who have great difficulty negotiating these roundabouts? People with diminished sight and hearing, and the mums with children to guide across, are often in need of a clear road and time to get to their destination.

Access to live one’s life day-to-day is for some a constant battle, made more difficult by processes that have no thought other than making life easier for the other 73 percent.

It’s not until we experience a trauma or a condition that takes our ability to move around with freedom, and separates us from day-to-day experiences that we all take for granted, that we even think about the need for time and the safety of lights that hold the traffic back to give us time.

Can you imagine the morning, lunch-time and late-afternoon traffic at that corner, and waiting to either go home or to work or some other activity where you need the time to cross the road? Sure, the traffic flows, but who cares about the unfortunate person standing forever waiting for someone to give them the kindness and time to get to their destination?

I guess you could tell them to go to another bridge and try their luck there, or you could suggest they not use the footpaths at all and somehow fly across the roads.

I have spent many hours added up waiting at roundabouts on Childers Road for a gap in traffic to cross safely, being a bit slow on the old pins!

Pedestrian crossings are another story. I have been told they cause death, with people thinking they have right of way. I’m not sure how many people in our city have died on crossings but after all these years without them, I think the cars have taken over and rule the highways — which is ludicrous, when we are trying to get people out of cars and walking for better health.

It doesn’t make sense to me that we have to be worried about dying on a pedestrian crossing when we are dying as never before in cars on roads that have never seen a pedestrian crossing.

We have a wonderful city with beaches and spots where people with disabilities can enjoy the walkways at their pace and ability. Many of our beautiful places are accessible, but there needs to be work done on others that would open up experiences for everyone.

We could be a real tourist mecca for those unable to go to other destinations, and open our doors to give those with mobility problems a wonderful experience.

This is all possible if we could only accept that a disability is only a problem with ability to move or to think in another way. It should not be an exclusion from a rich daily life, a place in the sun and surf, and the enjoyment and safety of more able people.

Disability is a word for courage, a daily fight to access our world around us. Open your hearts and minds, and plan and build for a future where the 27 percent can join the 73 percent in every aspect of life in our wonderful region.

- Nona Aston is secretary of the Disabled Persons Assembly Tairawhiti.