Simple oversights put residents at risk

A NEW survey has revealed pedestrians in Bundaberg and across Queensland are being put at risk every day by simple oversights around our homes.

The survey conducted by Guide Dogs Queensland ahead of International White Cane Day on October 15 investigated obstructions to footpaths in residential and business areas that put pedestrians at risk.

Guide Dogs Queensland CEO Chris Laine said simple decisions on where to put your bin for collection, or park your car, were having significant impacts on pedestrian safety.

"The survey revealed that parked cars and rubbish bins blocking the footpath were major hurdles for pedestrians, forcing many to leave the path and even use the road to get around the obstacle," Mrs Laine said.

"This is an issue that affects everyone in the community - from the blind and vision-impaired we work with, to the mums with prams, the elderly with walkers, and even people walking to the shops or going for a jog.

"I'm asking the community to take a moment when making these decisions to think how simple actions can impact on the safety of people around you. Our pathways are clearways for everyone's safety."

The survey found 87% of respondents had been affected by footpath obstructions in the past 12 months, with most incidents occurring on residential streets.

"While this may sound trivial to those with full sight and mobility, it was quite alarming to see that the journeys of over 75% of vision impaired respondents had been affected by something as simple as overhanging branches," Mrs Laine said.

"Navigating with no, or limited sight, is quite a challenge for anyone, but if you add to that hazards like overhanging branches that can't be detected by most white canes or GPS devices, then people have a real chance of being injured.

Taking steps to prevent pathway obstructions is something so simple that everyone could be doing to minimise danger for many within our community."

The survey also revealed shopping and cafe precincts offered a challenge to many pedestrians.

"Over 70% of respondents reported obstructions from shops displaying goods or advertising on the footpath and 63% reported cafe or restaurant outdoor tables and chairs created obstructions," Mrs Laine said.

Councils across Queensland rated very well in the survey, with only 34% of respondents finding issue with the location of telephone booths and outdoor seating, and 25% finding issues with the positioning of bus stops or bus shelters.

International White Cane Day raises awareness of the importance of the white cane and how it can aid independence for a person with vision loss.



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