I sent the following letter to the Wokingham paper:
My foot showing the shallow kerbs on Broad St
With all of the millions that the Wokingham Borough Council is spending on Wokingham Town Centre regeneration, there is one important group that seems to be being overlooked.
That is bus users, especially those with mobility problems. The bus stops on Broad Street are central to the town and are a vital service for accessing local services, such as the doctor’s surgery on Rose Street, local banks and shops.
The kerbs in Broad Street are well below the national standard and are largely only one or two inches tall. This makes the step up into the bus quite high, even when the bus is ‘kneeling’ and many of our less able passengers find that step very high, especially when they are carrying shopping.
With wheelchair users it is possible to deploy a ramp, but that is quite steep, it takes time to operate and it causes a significant delay to the bus departure.
If the kerbs were raised to meet the bus, wheelchair users could roll right onto the bus with everyone else along with prams, shopping trolleys and people with heavy suitcases and it could be done quickly and without a fuss or any special treatment for anyone.
These raised kerbs are being deployed everywhere to meet this need, except in our Town Centre bus stops.
I was told in the Executive last week by Cllr Chris Bowring, the Wokingham Borough Council executive member for highways, that to raise the kerbs in Broad Street would be physically impossible.
This is because of the entrance thresholds into the properties are quite low and drainage would be a problem.
I disagree – difficult, yes – impossible, no – this is a ROAD we are talking about. If we can send people to the moon are we suggesting this could never be sorted out on Broad Street?
If our Council is serious about complying with its Equality Duty and meeting the obligations of the Equality Act, it needs people who can think through these problems and make it work for all of our community and it should not be overlooked when we are spending so much money on regenerating the Town Centre.