THUNDER BAY – Editorial – Recently, a middle-aged man in a power wheelchair was hit by a car. He was going by a driveway and he thought that the driver of a car saw him, but he did not. The sidewalk was not plowed and the man with a disability was forced to go onto the road. The man with a disability was not seriously injured; however, there was some minor damage to his wheelchair.
A woman with a disability who navigates the streets in her wheelchair says; “I used to walk facing traffic, but some jokers think its funny to swerve and pretend they’re going to hit me, which TERRIFIES me and can cause my narcolepsy to kick in, (I’ll fall DEEPLY asleep right there on the road!) or make me so nervous I run right into the snowbank or curb, so I decided I’d rather not see it coming!”
The maintenance of Thunder Bay’s sidewalks and roads needs to be a concern for all of its citizens, especially those using mobility devices, given that we usually have copious amounts of snow for a significant portion of the year. We realize that this job does take time and we appreciate those who do it. However, this is a serious issue for persons who use mobility devices. Life and death situations can result.
In addition, there needs to be common courtesy between drivers and those who operate mobility devices. The aforementioned woman comments; “Drivers STILL cuss me out and honk their horns at me from right behind me-a VERY dangerous practice, since I have a neurological condition that causes me to have an exaggerated startle reflex. I jump and can steer right into them.”
A road safety campaign for drivers and for people who use mobility devices would be appropriate and timely for our city. There are approximately16200 persons with disabilities in Thunder Bay and the surrounding region. This is a significant population. Many people, disabled and able-bodied alike, do not know where a mobility device belongs on the road. Some say we should face traffic, others say we should walk with the traffic, and still others say that we should not be on the road at all. Road Safety Day would benefit everyone who uses the road.
For more information regarding these issues, contact PUSH Northwest at 345-3400.
Editorial Note: A few weeks ago, a 90 year old lady, walking on the sidewalk along one of the major roadways in our city. She suffered a medical situation, the woman across the street was watching from her window and saw her fall. Had she not been seen, it would likely have been sometime before she was noticed. The snowbanks were about three and a half feet tall.
It is not just the plowing of the sidewalks, but perhaps along busy streets, especially near schools, retail shops like Bay Street and Cumberland and other roadways clearing the snowbanks too would add to safety.
The woman who fell beside the busy street has suffered an apparent heart attack. She did not survive, she passed away in hospital the following day.
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