Windsor

Greenway trail users invited to weigh in on problematic areas for people with disabilities

The Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee wants trails to be safe and accessible, so is asking the public to give feedback via a website link as part of a program starting later this month.

Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee launching feedback program for National AccessAbility Week

We check the trails

1 year ago
Duration 2:11
We check the trails talks about their initiative along ERCA's Greenway trail system

The Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee is looking for public feedback to ensure trails are safe and accessible for everyone. 

"[The Essex Region Conservation Authority] does a great job of keeping their trails maintained," committee chair Christine Easterbrook told CBC.

"However, when you look through the lens of disability, often things can be caught that might not have been by whoever was maintaining the trails."

The committee's We Check the Trails program — which launches during National AccessAbility Week from May 30 to June 5 — asks users to point out, via the Essex County website, any problematic areas along the Greenway. 

Christine Easterbrook, chair of the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee, says the pandemic has been isolating. The committee is seeking feedback from the public on ways to make trails accessible. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Through a link on website, a form allows web users to assess the accessibility features of the trail. A separate form will also allow people to submit pictures and descriptions of any issues, which can be forwarded to ERCA so it can fix any problematic areas. 

"They need to look for things like how wide is the trail — is it wide enough for people who use mobility devices? What is the ground cover like? Are there potholes that someone could get stuck in?" said Easterbrook, adding that steep embankments and access to shaded areas and benches can also be considered. 

Safe and enjoyable

Easterbrook said that during the pandemic, mental and physical health is especially important, including for people with disabilities, who may feel isolated if it's difficult for them to get out.

"Not being able to see their friends, not being able to get out to their doctors' appointments and the regular things that they do on a regular basis that make their lives what they are. Being able to get outside and enjoy themselves on these trails is a great thing."

We want to make sure it's safe and enjoyable for everyone, including people with disabilities.​​​​- Christine Easterbrook

Easterbrook, who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy that affects her entire skeletal system as well as her breathing, has felt isolated during the COVID-19 situation because leaving the house is especially dangerous for her. 

"Coming out onto a trail, where I don't have to be among crowds of people, I've got the fresh air and it's safe for my mental health," she said.

Easterbrook said ERCA has 80 kilometres of trails on the Greenway that should be barrier free so anyone can access them. The trails include the Chrysler Canada Greenway, the Cypher Systems Group Greenway and the Rotary 1918 Centennial Hub. 

"We want to make sure it's safe and enjoyable for everyone, including people with disabilities."

She said that eventually, the We Check the Trails program will expand to other trails in the county's system.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.

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