After struggling to complete a 15-minute journey to their nearest supermarket, a couple have said that Aberdeen’s pavements are unsuitable for wheelchair users.
After dislocating her knee on a treadmill at the gym, Emma Summers has relied on a wheelchair to manoeuvre her daily routines.
And with a high chance of becoming permanently reliant on a wheelchair in the future, both Miss Summers and her partner, Megan Bruce, fear what their coming years in Aberdeen may bring.
The couple say that a short journey to their local supermarket was “almost impossible” due to the uneven pavements on King Street which constantly veered the couple into the road.
The 25-year-olds also said that the broken cobbles meant that the wheels of Miss Summer’s chair would become stuck while raised kerbs made it difficult for Miss Bruce to lift Miss Summers onto and off the pavements to cross the road.
However, Aberdeen City Council say that like all local authorities they have a limited budget, but are willing to discuss these issues in more detail and prioritise improvements in line with their budget process.
Speaking of the ordeal, Miss Bruce, who works full time as a carer said: “Emma was going a bit stir crazy in the house, so we thought we would take the wheelchair to Morrison’s – it was a 10-15 minute walk at most.
“But it took ages. Over half an hour one way. Emma thought she would be able to push herself most of the way but it was just impossible.
“Half the time it was a two person job – she was pushing the wheels and I was pushing the chair itself.
“It was mental, and my arm was just killing me because I had to have a proper hold on it at one side because it kept tipping. Right outside the police station was the worst, we were falling into the road.
“Near the Pizza Hut Delivery shop, the cobbles are bumping everywhere, and the front wheel of the wheelchair got stuck. I had to physically lift the wheel out and lift the front of the wheelchair onto the pavement.
“I saw someone looking at us and he was away to come and help but I managed to get it out myself. The whole trip was terrible with things like that happening the whole time and bumps everywhere.
“I handle wheelchairs all the time at work and I am used to them, but it was still awful and she would have not managed on her own. It was a joint effort”.
For Miss Summers, who says she may become reliant on a wheelchair permanently in the future, the incident served as a warning on what her life could be like if improvements aren’t made.
She said: “Megan was getting quite upset with it and I was saying that at least for now this isn’t long term but god forbid if I end up permanently in a wheelchair – there is no way to get about Aberdeen.
“The pavements are slanted in towards the road and crashing you into walls and pillars – it’s really difficult.
“If I was fully wheelchair bound, I wouldn’t leave the house. My mental health is shocking anyway, and it didn’t help it. It’s the fact that I wouldn’t be able to go about my way of life”.
Speaking on potential improvements, Miss Bruce said: “I would just like the pavements to be smoothed out. They are always redoing roads and things which are fine but there are pavements that are badly needing it and they just don’t get looked at ever.
“The cobbles as well, they need to make sure that they are safe, they can’t be all broken up so that wheels get stuck. It would just be nice if something could be done.
“I’m so annoyed. How is this acceptable? The pavements and roads in Aberdeen are appalling.
“Emma should be able to go out and by herself in her chair but that’s honestly impossible. It was almost impossible with my help. It’s so unsafe and honestly unfair for all wheelchair users”.
A spokeswoman for Aberdeen City Council said: “Like all local authorities, we have limited budgets however we work closely with disability groups where they raise these issues at our regular meetings.
“Officers would be happy to discuss these issues in more detail and prioritise improvements in line with our budget process.”