A county councillor decided to experience life in a wheelchair around Bideford - find out how she got on here.
A councillor has spent the day in a wheelchair to find out what issues are faced by disabled people in Bideford.
Linda Hellyer, Devon county councillor for Bideford East, was challenged to carry out the social experiment by Bideford resident and wheelchair user, Tonia Quance.
Tonia, who runs Bideford Cobblers and Keys, uses an electric wheelchair to get around, which she loaned to Councillor Hellyer for a few days.
Accompanied by DCC highways officer Julian Roskilly, they made their way around the town, with Tonia pointing out key issues.
Cllr Hellyer said it was ‘eye opening’ to experience life in a wheelchair for the first time.
She said: “I’ve heard it said that people in wheelchairs feel anonymous, and to a certain extent, you do.
“I don’t know if it’s because you’re below eye level, and everyone is always very busy.
“Bideford is an old town with narrow streets and pavements, and I think people accept that.
“Some things do make life difficult, for example scaffolding.
“I know people need to have work done and for pedestrians you can just weave around it, but in a wheelchair it’s a bit more difficult.”
Cllr Hellyer said a lack of drop kerbs, or people parking over them, made it difficult to cross some roads.
Parked cars also hindered visibility, making it even more difficult to cross some busy streets, such as Bridgeland Street.
“We are looking to see if we can put a crossing in here, to try to make things a bit easier,” Cllr Hellyer added.
“It’s not just for people in a wheelchair though; it’s important for people with impaired vision or hearing to have a safe place to cross.
“While we were in Bridgeland Street we even watched some ‘able-bodied’ people struggling to cross the road.”
Tonia said while there were some difficulties, she couldn’t praise people in the town enough for being considerate of disabled people.
“I cannot speak highly enough of the shop owners and people in the town,” said Tonia.
“Whether you’re living here or on holiday, people are always more than happy to help.”
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