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Crossing the Road

An ariel view of a chaotic London construction site with traffic flowing past it


A ramp on one side of the roadworks is no use to a wheelchair user unless there’s a ramp on the other side.

That’s when you need a team of strangers to pick the ramp up and move it to the next kerb ahead of you, and so on, as my video shows.

It is great when people recognise you are stuck and do something about it, without being asked. With their help, I made it across some complicated roadworks.

Practicing videography skills

If my video seems a bit rough and ready, forgive me. It was my first attempt practicing skills learnt at an Apple iPhone Videography workshop, having decided I needed to make short videos of my work projects.

Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I don’t learn from reading notes – I need to just do it. So last week, fresh with ideas about how I could use video to promote my work and inform clients, I slipped out at lunchtime. I attached the camera and off we went. (To help with the practicalities of using a wheelchair and filming, the helpful Apple staff suggested I use a GripTight GorillaPod – a device that secures my iPhone to any part of my wheelchair.)

It was an impulsive leap into the unknown. I wasn’t expecting to capture footage of good Samaritans in action.

Film’s serious message

But there is a serious side to this story. The ramp antics were heart-warming but they shouldn’t have been necessary.

There are roadworks everywhere; barriers, blocked roads and detours are nothing new to me. And they are not a problem when construction and utility companies make proper plans to ensure their temporary works don’t become barriers.

If they don’t, journeys can go badly wrong for disabled people. There isn’t always someone there to help. Using a wheelchair, you can’t always turn round and go back the way you came.

Safe and inclusive

Our environment should be safe and inclusive, for everyone. For example, anyone responsible for roadworks, or doing them, has a duty to think about the needs of disabled people and older people when they plan and carry out the work.

Failure to do so is discriminatory.

And the Safety at Street Works and Road Works Code of Practice gives clear instructions and recommendations about how to meet the needs of all road users. Failure to comply with this code is a criminal offence.

So, no excuse for ramps being missing, confusing signs, or dead ends. There is no excuse for constructing barriers to disabled people, or older pedestrians with mobility impairments, or people with children for that matter.

The code’s key questions are:

‘Will someone using the road or footway from any direction understand exactly what is happening and what is expected of them?

‘Have I made the site safe to work in and for the general public?’

Grateful as I am to my ramp team, I’d prefer roadworks that were safe, sensible and fair for disabled people.

Do you need help using the code of practice? Would your project benefit from an assessment by a consultant from the National Register of Access Consultants, to ensure your works do not discriminate against disabled people? Please get in touch