Summertime and the living is easy… or so the song goes. Well summertime is also tourist season here in Oxford. Whilst I love the hum drum, the happy families and the hordes of selfies being taken across the city, there is a darker side to this influx.
The dark side manifests in whole new set of access issues for little ol’ Niall going from A to B. Today I am going to turn my attention to George Street and the fight for the ever so lucrative restaurant trade. When visiting Oxford everyone arrives at Gloucester Green or the railway station and toddles up George Street to reach the sites. This has turned George Street into A board hell – an A board is one of those advertisements that sit on the pavement advertising meal deals and menus etc. Why does this bother me so much?
Well let me tell you. Pavements generally are cambered, this means they have a slight slope to allow water to drain off. You wouldn’t notice it much as a walker but any pram user will be more than happy to enlighten you. It often means I push with one hand to compensate for the roll into the road, which means taking a specific route along the pavements to avoid the steepest camber. Make that narrower and you have less choice and more effort to put in. Throw in a crowd of people pausing or looking up at gargoyles, huddling around these boards and basically I am forced out into the road.
I have been trying to think of an equivalent? It would be a bit like someone putting wheelie bins all over the road if you were driving in a straight line. Add to that loads of cyclists that are not paying attention and maybe a strong side wind blowing you off course. Doesn’t sound fun right? Hence why I take to the road and take my chances... Thank God for cycle lanes.
It also not just us wheelchair users that suffer. Picture a new mother with her pram but more importantly the visually impaired. Imagine having no or limited sight and constantly coming across new obstacles on a route that you know is normally clutter free?
It would drive me crazy and these guys don’t have the option of hitting the road. So what should be a simple walk in straight line becomes a chicane fuelled nightmare. Of course to add to the misery it’s not just one type of A board so you are constantly trying to guess what this mystery object is.
I don’t resent businesses advertising and we should all be benefitting from the influx of tourists but not at the cost to those that already struggle to get around. If you know anyone connected or work in one of these places, have a word with the manager, think of a solution that doesn’t clog the pavements and then we can all share the streets and eats of Oxford and get back to easy summer living.
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