Disability advocates still waiting for accessibility improvements in … – New Zealand Herald


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Napier disability advocate Ian Cook is continuing to fight for accessibility in Napier alongside people like Robyn Dorday. Photo / Paul Taylor
Disability advocates in Napier still hope to see improvements to accessibility in the city while Napier City Council (NCC) explores its options.
Robyn Dorday, a Napier-based advocate for blind and low-vision people, said most people in her position were concerned about footpaths and crossing roads without zebra crossings in the city.
She has retinitis pigmentosa, a type of rare degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment.
“My biggest concern with NCC is the lack of zebra crossing and tactiles [raised, coloured pavers]. In Mārewa, I know of seven vision-impaired, some of whom have lost confidence to cross Kennedy Rd to access their homes or GoBus,” Dorday said.
“This city lacks pedestrian crossings in and around shopping centres.”
She said zebra crossings, brightly coloured raised tactile pavers or even raised courtesy crossings were “essential” for the vision and mobility-impaired, cruise ship passengers, the elderly and children so that drivers will slow down on approach.
“We should be doing it. We have cruise ships, and a lot of those cruise ships carry people with disabilities, but there are no tactiles up there by the Soundshell,” Dorday said.
Ian Cook, an advocate for Napier residents with disabilities, said he was a bit disappointed because he felt there had been a lot of promise in 2022, but not very much material change had yet eventuated.
“They can’t find the money to fix the dangerous crossings and kerb-cuts in town that are dangerous to the disabled; the ones that throw people in wheelchairs on their faces, and all that,” Cook said.
Napier City councillor Greg Mawson, whose portfolio covers accessibility, said it was too early in the year to announce certain specific plans, but the council had some it was working through which would be announced soon.
He said raised courtesy crossings were typically used rather than zebra crossings due to research showing the raised courtesy crossings were safer.
“There is a massive amount of data out there that suggests that the raised courtesy crossings are a lot better, because it stops a pedestrian from just walking out onto the road because they know it is a courtesy crossing, rather than a pedestrian crossing,” Mawson said.
A Napier City Council spokesperson said in late December that tactile pavers have been added to the side streets on Kennedy Road from Georges Drive and Wellesley Road.
“We are reviewing all of the city for gaps in the tactile pavers and will upgrade on a priority basis, but at this time, it is not budgeted in the LTP [Long Term Plan],” the spokesperson said.
They said the CBD will be a priority, but a cost has yet to be determined.
The spokesperson said revised design options for Mārewa Shopping Centre safety improvements to the road and crossings are being considered, and a paper will be taken to the council in early 2023 for consideration, with public consultation likely to happen after the council meeting.
The spokesperson said the council was currently working through options in terms of costings after a mobility parking review survey was distributed to mobility parking holders in June 2022.
“In the early new year, we will be pulling together a plan that addresses the needs and the best use of resources,” the spokesperson said.
According to the Napier City Council Disability Strategy 2019-2023, 27 per cent of people in Napier have a disability, and 9747 people in Napier had a physical disability as of 2019.
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