Arthur Dunne, IWA (left) and Stephen Seery say the newly improved footpaths in Mullingar are a huge benefit to wheelchair and mobility scooter users.

Wheelchair users say wider footpaths are great benefit

Today is #MakeWayDay'21

Motorists who are stuck at red lights in Mullingar don’t like the wide footpaths, but there is a section of the community that has welcomed them – wheelchair users.

As today is Make Way Day 21, the Westmeath Examiner spoke to people from the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) in Springfield.

Arthur Dunne, service support officer, said: “None of use are that happy with the wider footpaths in Mullingar, as drivers – but as pedestrians and for people in wheelchairs it has made a big difference. We would discuss this up at the centre (the IWA at Springfield) and people are delighted that it’s easier to get around, that the paths are so wide and spacious, there’s seating at the Market Square and Dominic Square. It’s brilliant compared to what it was, so well done to the council on that side of things.”

Stephen Seery spoke about the challenges of getting around using a mobility scooter.

Stephen, who lives in Ginnell Terrace, said: “Getting up and down the town can be hard enough, because of things in the way or cars parked on the path. You have go around them to get past – but sometimes if I know the person, I’ll ask them to move [the obstacle], or if I’ll try to get their attention.

“If they’re in the car on the mobile phone, which is normally what they’re doing nowadays, they just ignore you, they won’t even look up to see who you are. And that happens a good bit.

“There’s a few places in town that could be highlighted.”

The Examiner didn’t set out to name and shame anyone, but rather to highlight the issue, so we haven’t identified any of the places Stephen mentioned.

He said: “The other things to look out for are shops that have signs or cafes or restaurants that have tables or chairs in the middle of the path. Some people might pull the chairs out from the window to see what’s coming up or down, so I would ask them to be aware of who’s on the path.

“There’s more people as well, it’s not just disabled people, so basically it’s about awareness, and looking out for other people.”