Barriers across footpaths are preventing vulnerable groups being able to use many public spaces, according to a wheelchair user campaigning for equal access.

Steph Marie Yates, a 27-year-old Redesign Assistant at Salford NHS and vlogger, lives with cerebral palsy and uses her wheelchair to get around. She says barriers designed to prevent cars and motorbikes using paths are breaking the law.

She said: “Barriers should be removed to make access for all.

“I can’t experience what a lot of able-bodied people can experience because I can’t access the places.”

Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham allocated £0.5 million to implement measures that facilitate social distancing and encourage more walking and cycling trips.

The funding covered a broad range of interventions including barrier removal, signage and temporary infrastructure.

While some barriers were removed in June of this year, many were not and this left people frustrated, particularly wheelchair users and cyclists who are having to dismount due to the sheer volume of barriers obstructing their journey.

Harry Gray, 25, the lead campaigner for Walk Ride Salford highlighted that, The Equality Act 2010 states the duty to make reasonable adjustments and having a barrier with a gap of less than 1.5m in width prohibits wheelchair users from getting through.

He believes that the fact that barriers still exist in today’s society is ‘ridiculous’.

He said: “We should be promoting active travel for everyone to be able to get around.

“It’s unfair that only people directly affected and discriminated against can take this issue to court.”

With an increase of cyclists and pedestrians, as a result of the tiered system linked to Coronavirus, Salford’s citizens are appealing for a more radical change to ensure that our streets and roads are safe and accessible for every member of society.
On the back of Salford Mayor’s Safe Streets, Save Lives campaign, the council have been contacted and asked whether or not the campaign was inclusive of wheelchair users.

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