Cars king of the footpath on ‘Make Way Day’ in Galway


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Cars king of the footpath on ‘Make Way Day’ in Galway Cars king of the footpath on ‘Make Way Day’ in Galway

Bradley Bytes, a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Make Way Day in Galway was no different to any other day – the city’s footpaths resembled an obstacle course, as usual.

Last Friday marked the annual public awareness campaign to highlight the needs of people with disabilities and to shine a light on how other people’s thoughtlessness blocks their ability to get about safely.

It coincided with bin collection day for many city premises. That meant that as well as the usual everyday footpath obstacles, people with disabilities and mobility issues had to contend with dozens of wheelie bins blocking paths during morning rush-hour (pictured).

Then there was the usual level of parking by idiots, with no regard for anyone else.

A stroll through the city centre revealed vehicles parked on footpaths from Eyre Square to Spanish Parade.

There were cars parked on double yellow lines; cars parked on footpaths and double yellow lines; and a particular favourite – cars parked on corners with double yellow lines that blocked pedestrians from using the footpaths and made it more difficult for motorists to safely turn out onto adjoining streets.

All these things impede people in wheelchairs, people with walking sticks, people with buggies and others with reduced mobility.

Then there were a handful of bicycles chained to lampposts, including one at Woodquay that had fallen over blocking the path. No less inconsiderate than motorists blocking pedestrians.

On several streets, footpaths had been commandeered for outdoor furniture for cafes and restaurants. In some places, the paths are not big enough to accommodate tables and chairs while allowing sufficient space for a wheelchair or buggy to pass by. That means they must go onto the street.

The Disability Federation of Ireland insists Make Way Day is not about pointing the finger at local authorities for their inaction in making our streets accessible for all.

But it should be. Yes, it is right to highlight to the public how their selfishness impacts the mobility of others, particularly those with disabilities.

And yet one of the biggest obstacles faced by people in wheelchairs and parents with prams and older people with walking sticks or mobility scooters, is the lack of investment in proper pedestrian infrastructure and insufficient enforcement of illegal parking.

If our roads were as unfit-for-purpose as our footpaths are (raised kerbs, crumbling concrete, footpaths to nowhere that end abruptly, loose blocks, few pedestrian crossings etc), there’d quite rightly be an outcry from councillors.

On Friday #MakeWayDay trended for a few hours on social media but there was no discernible change in the behaviour that makes life a misery for a minority trying to get around.

Fittingly, Galway City Council shared the wrong website address for Make Way Day on social media. Ironic, too, that the Make Way Day obstacle course of illegally parked cars coincided with World ‘Car Free Day’.
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the September 29 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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