A wheelchair car park survey will soon roll out.
Waitaki CCS Disability Action’s local advisory committee is in the planning stages of creating a survey on Oamaru’s wheelchair accessibility, and hopes to use the information to advocate for wheelchair users within the community.
As part of the survey, Waitaki District Council road safety co-ordinator Jason Evered will provide a map of the existing wheelchair car parks for people to rate and provide feedback on.
During this process the committee will consult relevant organisations and institutions such as intellectual disability services, Age Concern, residential care facility Iona Home and Hospital, and local transport agencies.
Committee chairwoman Jacqui Eggleton said it was very much in the “thought collecting stage” and finding out what was needed in the community.
Mrs Eggleton said the committee’s role was to find out what its members needed, and wheelchair access was one of the main issues raised.
The issue was also highlighted when Mrs Eggleton’s son Zane – who accessed the Waitaki CCS’s services – was uploading images of Oamaru’s wheelchair car parks to Access Aware, a mobile application that mapped wheelchair-friendly places.
Mr Eggleton discovered a lot of them were not up to scratch.
“Our wheelchair parks need some TLC,” Mrs Eggleton said.
She said many of them were in bad locations that were “frustrating” for CCS members.
It caused a physical and social barrier, affecting where people could and could not go, and resulting in many people only going into town for necessities.
Oamaru social worker Sam Hodge said some people would not go to certain places because it was too hard to park.
More often than not, the car parks did not allow enough room for someone in a wheelchair to exit a vehicle, and kerb cuts were not long enough or were too far away from the location they were trying to access.
Taxi driver Shige Koyama said he often had to be creative when dropping off a client who used a wheelchair and many locations were inaccessible.
Mr Koyama, who had been a taxi driver for 12 years, had concerns about what this meant for wheelchair access as Oamaru got busier.
The committee hopes to change that with its survey. Information gathered from the survey will be presented to the council.