Drivers urged to park thoughtfully

Grateful . . . Doreen McGregor wanted to express her thanks to a couple who helped her after an incident on her mobility scooter earlier this month. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

Oamaru woman Doreen McGregor is ‘‘just so, so grateful’’ a couple came to her aid, following an incident on her mobility scooter.

After moving to an apartment at the hilltop Observatory Village three years ago, and being reluctant to drive, the 88-year-old relied heavily on her scooter to get her places.

Earlier this month, she was travelling down the hill towards town, along Eden St. Recent roadworks at the top of the street had made the trip ‘‘really difficult’’, she said.

‘‘So I just thought, I’ll go down the left-hand side.

‘‘It’s very narrow and rough. . . and there’s a massive hedge just a wee way down.’’

The footpath is raised up along a high bank, making access from the footpath back on to the road impossible on the scooter.

‘‘I’ve got quite a big machine, and I just got past [the hedge], that was fine. I get down the road and there’s a car right across the footpath, so I couldn’t get on to the road, so I had to come back [up], and the bottom end of this big fence was sticking out, and I don’t actually know how, but the front of my scooter just reared up and went into the fence.’’

The scooter had metal supports at the back, which dug into the ground, preventing Mrs McGregor from going over the bank.

She ended up stuck there, on the back of her scooter.

‘‘I couldn’t have got off my machine. I was scared if I moved, it might have just gone over on me.’’

Several cars drove past without stopping before Kakanui couple Jacqui and John Mackenzie saw her predicament and turned around to help.

‘‘They were just so kind. I was shaking like a leaf, so she brought me back [home] and John brought the scooter back.’’

Although Mrs McGregor was unhurt, she was ‘‘really shaken up’’.

She had not been out on her scooter in the weeks since the incident, but said she was reluctant to give it up just yet.

‘‘If I packed it in, I lose my independence, and it’s lovely, even if it’s just a nice day . . .to go for a ride on it.’’

Mrs McGregor wanted people to think twice before parking their cars across footpaths, as it could make life extremely difficult for those who found it harder to get around.

‘‘I couldn’t get on the road — the gutter was up high, and this car was right up close, and I couldn’t get over the gutter. I sort of looked to see if there was anybody around to ask if they could move it, but there wasn’t. 

‘‘I just want them to think about it.’’ Waitaki District Council roading manager Mike Harrison said it was ‘‘unacceptable and illegal’’ for any vehicle to park over a footpath.

‘‘Footpaths are for people.

‘‘We all need to make space for each other in our community, no matter the access needs.

‘‘We have not received a report in this instance. However, mobility access through any work site is a key performance area for our contractors, be it during work hours or during tools down; this should never be compromised.’’

Mr Harrison said in an incident such as this, he recommended people call the police or alternatively the council.

“It is important for this to be reported, as it helps us protect you.’’

Mr Harrison said the council would investigate the incident further.