Bristol parks are no-go zone for mobility scooters
Elderly and disabled people who rely on mobility scooters to get around Bristol are finding it hard to get into the city’s much-loved parks.
Mobility scooter users have been left out in the cold by security measures intended to deter motor cyclists which have seen many park entrances turned into impassable obstacles for people on four wheels.
Mobility specialist Bob Sansom, who runs Access Able in St John’s Lane Bedminster, said park gates across the city had been turned into a series of ‘Checkpoint Charlies’.
Locked gates at neighbouring Victoria Park have prevented him from using the area as a quiet practice track to give potential customers a test drive.
He said: “While it’s understandable there is a need to keep motor cycles and scooters out, the new locks, gates and angled access bars mean our parks have become no go areas for many disabled and elderly people who need powered scooters and chairs to get around outside.
“Mobility scooter or powered chair users are virtually unable to access parks without going through the rigmarole of obtaining keys from the city council.
“Getting hold of a key is all very well if the mobility scooter user lives locally and only needs to access one park, but it takes no account of the more adventurous users wishing to use one or more of our parks as handy shortcuts across the city.
“It means just about every sector of the community can use the city’s parks - apart from the elderly and disabled who would appreciate them the most.”
Bob, who has recently been appointed as a Motability dealership for the Greater Bristol area, said footpaths through parks were frequently the quickest , safest and the most pleasant way of travelling for people with limited mobility and made an ideal place for people to get used to their new vehicle.
Bob said: “We have always offered potential customers the opportunity to try out their motor scooter on the quiet paths around the park - but now we have to assess their abilities on the local pavements and roads, which are amongst the worst in the city.”
Mobility scooter user Michael McNeil from Hartcliffe - who travels up to five or six miles across the city every day - said the decision to lock the gates had left him high and dry.
He said: “Victoria Park has one gate which I can just about squeeze through - the rest of them are gated, locked or blocked by high steps so I can’t get out the other end.
“Giving people keys is not the answer as all I am trying to do is use the quickest and safest route to get from my home in Hartcliffe into the city centre. I would need half a dozen different keys if I had to negotiate every checkpoint in every park along the way. By blocking all the park gates I am obliged to stick to the footpaths and roads.”
Mr McNeil - who uses his mobility scooter for expeditions up to Dundry village as well as daily trips in to the city centre, is lobbying local councils for action.
“I am collecting a dossier on the worst offending roads and footpaths and taking photos to pass on to the council demanding they take action. But it is bitterly disappointing to be denied access to Bristol’s parks.”
Victoria Park is situated on Hill Avenue in Bedminster with entrances from neighbouring streets including St Luke’s Road, Hill Avenue, Nutgrove Avenue, Somerset Terrace and Fraser Street.
The city council describes the park as ‘very hilly with an undulating landscape with many winding paths and steps’ and states that it may be very challenging for people with disabilities and wheelchair users. It does not offer any advice on accessing the park on mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs.
ENDSIssued by Empica Ltd on behalf of Access Able. For further information contact Simon Harding or Martin Powell on 01275 394400.