WONTHAGGI residents are calling on the Bass Coast Shire Council to install more pedestrian crossings, and fix steep and cracked footpaths.
Participants from Connecting 2 Australia, a not-for-profit organisation which works with people living with a disability and/or disadvantage, recently made a presentation to councillors on the importance of making the town more pedestrian friendly.
Suzanne Rutherford lives independently at Rose Lodge, but says due to development and the build-up of local traffic, she struggles to safely cross Biggs Drive.
“As I live independently, I have chores to do in the main street on a regular basis; this makes these everyday routines stressful and scary,” she said in a letter to councillors.
Suzanne said she attends Connecting 2 Australia five days a week, and together with friends, they frequently walk the main street.
“Our group’s abilities are varied so on some days we can spread the width of the road when crossing. To get a break in the traffic so we can get across safely can sometimes keep us waiting for up to five minutes.”
Her letter included a series of photos and notes to help councillors understand the problems the group’s facing.
She hoped the letter and presentation would see council consider a “much safer crossing scenario” somewhere along Biggs Drive, “not only for my friends and me, but for the broader community of Wonthaggi”.
She described crossing at the Biggs Drive and Graham Street roundabout as “frustrating, scary and stressful”.
It’s a similar issue at the intersection of Biggs Drive and Murray Street, Suzanne said, where she often sees patients from the nearby medical clinic waiting to cross the road.
Kristy McLean of Wonthaggi was also due to present to councillors at the Council Chambers, but was unwell.
However, that didn’t stop the Mayor Cr Brett Tessari – together with Connecting 2 Australia participants – walking down to Kirrak House to have a chat about the issues she also faces on a daily basis.
Kristy hopes the council will improve the pathways and crossings around town to be a lot more wheel friendly.
“Meeting up with friends and family in the many cafes around town is one of my favourite things to do, I hope that council will seriously consider my issue so that I can get to my favourite places a lot easier,” Kristy said in a letter to councillors.
Her main issues were crossing Graham Street and cracks in the footpaths.
In her letter, Kristy said the steep incline/declines at the Graham Street crossing – on both the Chill Bill and NAB sides – makes it difficult for all people with wheels, such as wheelchairs, walkers, gophers, prams and any person who self-propels in a wheelchair.
Kristy said there’s also a hazard on the NAB side, where any type of wheel could get caught in a crack that runs through the tactile ground surface indicators.
She listed several other crossings around town which have a sharp incline/decline, including: between Woolworths and the library, the Woolworths’ car park entrance, crossing over Graham Street at South Gippsland Motors, all crossings at the Wonthaggi Plaza roundabout, at the taxi rank, and at the Whale Bone Hotel.