Archive | November 2018

Pedestrians and Roads

Image result for road crossing disabled

A lot of disabled and more vulnerable people do not drive.  This can be due to being physically unable to, learning difficulties or costs.  I cannot drive, so chose to live in a small town where most things are walking distance and the public transport links are good.  However as a pedestrian I often feel that walking is less safe than it should be when it comes to roads.

Crossing the road can be very tricky at times.  Some drivers seem to drive like they are the only people in the world that matter or that no one else could possibly exist outside their own car, at least that is how it can seem at times to me.  Some drivers act as if the rules of the road are there to pick and choose from as they like, that or they forget some of the rules as soon as they pass their test.  I am careful when crossing the road, looking both ways and waiting till it is clear.  Although it does not matter how careful I am if a car comes careering around the corner without slowing down when I have already started to cross.  I can dash out of the way if I need to and step back, but for some this is much harder.  Some people with mobility issues can struggle to get out of the way in time.

I can decide it is safe to cross as the car is clearly going the other way, but then it turns out they are coming my way, they just did not indicate.  An awful lot of drivers do not indicate at turnings.  On very busy roads this is a problem as I can wait a very long time for there to be no cars at all and it would help to know I can cross when cars are going the other way.  I am sure other drivers would also appreciate if other cars indicated as they should.

Where possible I will use a crossing such as a zebra or pelican crossing, as it usually makes crossing the road far safer.  Most drivers are good at stopping for them if someone is waiting, but I have known drivers to ignore crossings, especially zebra crossings.  This is rude and dangerous.  I also do not like drivers who creep up closer and closer to me at crossings as if to get me to hurry up and walk faster.   I may be walking as fast as I can already, since I get days when my leg muscles are more stiff around my false hip and lots of people struggle with walking fast.

Road side parking is also an issue drivers need to consider with pedestrians in mind.  Parking on the pavement can be a serious problem for some disabled people.  I am able to walk around a car, either by squeezing past it, or by walking onto the road, but a lot of people cannot do this.  Wheelchairs, mobility scooters and walking frames can make it impossible to get past a car or anything blocking the pavement.  When it is a busy road I dislike having to walk on it and some less able people find it very scary.  Parking in front of drop down curbs can also prevent some disabled people from getting to their destination.  When a driver says ‘I’m only going to be five minuets’, that is no excuse.  That five minutes might make the disabled person late for an appointment or miss the bus.  Anyway, why should they have to wait for you?

I do not totally blame drivers; some roads are poorly designed for the pedestrian.  It can seem on some roads as if adding a pavement was an afterthought and the need to cross the road never even occurred to the planners.  In my town there is a road I often need to cross that has four directions a vehicle can come from and I cannot even see one of the directions clearly.  Then there are roads where the pavement just runs, so if you do not know the road you can end up in a very difficult situation.

Another issue planners often fail to think about is adding any kind of walkway in car parks.  Having to cross a car park on foot can be hazardous with drivers not always fully paying attention yet, doing up seat belts or setting sat-nav.  Even at 5mph being hit by a car hurts.  There are quite a few places that have car park right in front of them that you have to cross in order to get to them, often railway stations.  Having been hit by a car in a railway station car park, I know I am lucky that I only got bruising to my leg, but some disabled people might not come off so lightly.

Some pedestrians could help themselves more.  I have often seen people cross down the road from a proper crossing just to save walking a few extra yards, even on very busy, fast roads.  Some people have music on far too loudly in their headphones preventing them from hearing oncoming traffic.  On some roads you can hear traffic before you can see it.  Pedestrians need to pay attention when walking by roads and especially when crossing.

Drivers need to pay attention to what is going on around them outside of their vehicle.  This includes in car parks and places you may not expect to see a pedestrian.  Drivers need to think when parking, can a wheelchair get past?  Is there a drop down curb I might be blocking?  It is important to remember a lot of less able people walk and need to get where they are going safely.

Friends & Friendship

I would not describe myself as popular and do not think I ever have been, but I have more friends now than I used to.  It took me a very long time to meet so many people I would call true friends.  People I know I can share with honestly and openly, who I trust will not judge me and at least try to understand me.  I know that when it comes to friendship it is quality over quantity, better to have a few loyal friends, than lots of people who are only there in the good times, and let you down when things are not going so well.

I remember struggling to make friends when younger.  As a child I had phases of having a few friends and phases of not really having any at all.  I remember not fitting in very well with others at school and spending a lot of time on my own during break.  At primary school I did not always mind having so few friends as I enjoyed my own company and could often amuse myself.  However by the time I went to secondary school I was feeling increasingly lonely.  I was bullied to the point I would often refuse to go to go to school.  I knew by this point that I was somewhat different to my peers.  At the age of twelve I was diagnosed as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which went some way to explain my social life or lack of, but as a teenager I realised there was more to my issues than just OCD.  However I had no idea what I could do about it.  For a lot of my teens I had very few friends.  I did not really fit into any social groups.  At times it really upset me to not be invited to things and be left out of social events, but sometimes I minded less and I suppose I got sort of used to not having many friends.

During my first two college courses I did not make any friends.  I got on OK with some people, but could not say they were really friends.  When I started a performing arts course I got on somewhat better with people.  We had a common interest in theatre and performing.  Drama people are often the outsiders, the ones who did not get on so well in school and tend to be a bit different.  Also performers tend to get good at reading people and understanding them better having to work so closely together.  I did not get invited out much, but back then I did not drink alcohol and I think some of my class knew I would not have enjoyed a drunken pub crawl or nightclubs much anyway.  Over my three years of performing arts at college I got slightly better at socialising between classes.  I did get invited to a couple of parties and had a twenty-first birthday party myself.

At twenty-three I went away to university.  I felt I fitted in and got on with people there a lot more than I had anywhere else.  By the time I left university I felt I had made some real friends.  I think partly it was having common interests, but also I was more mature and had learnt how to socialise a bit better.  I had started drinking by this point and enjoyed going to pubs and clubs more.  (Although I was not really a heavy drinker compared to a lot of students and did not go to night clubs very often.)

Since moving out of my parent’s house and living more independently I have made more friends and gained more of a social life.  It helps that I understand myself somewhat better now, having finally had a proper autism diagnoses and have taken time to learn more about my conditions.  I am less angry and confused about who I am, which helps how I come across to others.  I feel calmer and have less public meltdowns.  Although I still have the occasional outburst, they do not last as long and I get over them more quickly.  Also I have learnt the kind of people who I tend to get on better with and will make more suitable long term friends for me.  I have found that when it comes to making friends age and sex does not matter so much as understanding.  People who can accept my autism and OCD and do not judge me based on my conditions.

I have had one really good friend throughout the years that I have known for longer than anyone else, since I was in my early teens in fact.  I really appreciate this friendship because this person has been there for so long and always supported me even when things in my life were not going so well, and I had no other friends.  It showed me that I could make real friends if I made the effort and it was worth doing so.

images