Survey to assess if pavements suitable for less able users

TWO neighbours in Wells are to carry out a survey of the pavements in the city to assess their suitability for less able users such as those who need wheelchairs, or parents with pushchairs.

Theo van Hensbergen, who lives in Anseres Place, says it is not just the maintenance of the pavements that is an issue in Wells, but also their design.

He and his neighbour Brian Clarke – who has motor neurone disease and now needs to use a motorised wheelchair to travel more than very short distances – intend to conduct a survey of the pavements for formal submission to local authorities. 

“Many of the pavements around Wells are poorly designed, for example for wheelchair use or by mothers with young children and pushchairs. This is partly the consequence of history, but also a lack of consideration for less able users,” said Theo, who frequently pushes his mother-in-law around Wells in a wheelchair.

The terms of reference he and Brian have set themselves for what they are calling the Wells Streets Accessibility Survey 2023 are:

• We will concentrate our efforts, in this first phase, on assessing the fitness of purpose of the town centre of Wells. In particular we will consider routes to key services – doctor’s surgery, schools, supermarkets etc.

• All these routes will be tested by a motorised wheelchair user who suffers from motor neurone disease, and/or a manual wheelchair user.

Much of their assessment of the fitness for purpose of the walkways will be based on the Department for Transport’s December 2021 Inclusive Mobility guide.In particular, they will focus on the presence of suitable drop kerbs (6mm maximum height); sufficient width (minimum 100cm, allowable for a maximum of six metres); and the condition of surfaces (free from hazards and obstacles).

“A detailed map and spreadsheet identifying locations and issues will be attached to our report,” said Theo. “We are at the point of starting our first formal walk out – street maps to annotate, Excel spreadsheets for recording observations and a tailor-made measuring stick for pavement width and drop kerb height are all ready to go.”