A recent survey conducted by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT of people with impaired vision reported an alarmingly high percentage of footpath obstructions, such as overhanging branches, footpath dining, rubbish bins, signs and uneven paths which had impacted on each person's ability to get out and about in their local community. A person using a cane may not detect all hazards. A person using a Guide Dog may be taken off the path to avoid the hazard. A person with low vision may not see the hazard.
What happens when a footpath obstruction is encountered, the person must
- recover from the unexpected shock
- find their way around the hazard, which may sometimes force them into another hazardous situation
- relocate their path
- re-establish their direction
- continue on their journey with trepidation until their next encounter with a hazard
This impacts on a person's confidence and independence.
In order to help reduce the incidence of this happening, a few simple actions can make a big difference.
A survey of clients by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT revealed that a staggering 88% reported difficulties negotiating footpath obstructions, with clients specifically indicating that uneven footpaths are a major problem that present a trip hazard which can lead to falls and significant injuries.
Raised sections of footpath are a trip hazard, where a person foot can catch; lowered or eroded sections may lead to a person stumbling or turning an ankle; a footpath which is a wavy mix of high and low sections, which are hard to recognise visually, can cause jarring and discomfort.
This also affects people who are older, those with balance impairments and people in wheelchairs.
Report uneven footpaths so that they can be repaired in a timely fashion.
What can the public do?
Report any locations that have uneven footpaths to Council so that they can be fixed.
What can Councils do?
|Regularly inspect footpaths and repair uneven sections|
|Respond in a timely fashion to reports of uneven paths|
|Ensure that footpaths are suitably repatriated after services have been accessed underneath|
|Ensure that the street trees selected will not cause future issues with paving|
|All sections of footpaths are flat and uneven|
|Uneven sections repair are repaired in a timely fashion|
|Parallel surfaces to the footpath have a level abutment with the footpath|
|All sections of footpath do not have any rises above 3 mm in height|
|All vertical rises on the footpath between 3mm and 5 mm are chamfered or rounded over|
|Surface of the footpath has suitable all weather slip resistance|
|Following service maintenance under the footpath, footpath surface is appropriately replaced so that it matches the surrounding footpath surface|
|Street trees selected will not cause issues with paving|