If you’ve ever tried to lift, push or otherwise manoeuvre someone in a wheelchair, this item will be familiar. Recent work on the pavements on Avenida de los Deportes seems to have forgotten that there are plenty of people in wheelchairs in Jimena. We don’t see them often because they have such enormous difficulties in the town. The picture that illustrates this article is probably the best example of what we mean, but there are a lot more examples more below.>
This lamppost is set right in the middle of the pavement that runs along the side of the primary school, with a waste bin attached, unfinished paving and close to a tube that will one day in some century contain electricity cables. It isn’t only impossible for wheelchairs, but for push chairs too.
Further down the same pavement we come across a very steep step leading down into the road. We will be told that the zebra crossing is a few metres to right in the picture, but it is those few metres that are exhausting. The natural inclination is to step into the traffic, which instinct is not exclusive to the wheelchair bound, but also to small children and the elderly.
The problem above is made worse in that no pavement was built on the other side of the road by the builders’ merchant. There is no way to walk down that side without coming into the road. And look at the parking!
Having crossed the road we come to a desert of a pavement that may or may not have been planned taking into account the future redevelopment of that corner. Further down, just before getting to Cuenca’s Restaurant, we find a wobbly lamppost thoroughly rusted through a its base. It can’t take more than a couple of shoves to push it over. And have you ever tried to push a wheelchair over loose gravel?
How a wheelchair is supposed to get up or down in front of the restaurant is a moot point. Crossing the road towards the supermarket may be an answer, but if you’re headed for the pool, as we were, that’s a lot of pushing and shoving. In any case, parking such as this is to be found at all times of the day.
Another illustration of anarchic parking, taken a few minutes after the previous one. Think of a wheelchair bound person trying to cross the road in the heat or the rain, waiting for the deliveries to be finished. (A Local Police car went by twice while we were taking these last two photos. Never stopped.)
If we had chosen the other side of the road to come down, we’d be met by a curb like this. Pedestrian crossing it may be, but pedestrian implies being able to lift one’s feet. This mishmash (chapuza in local Spanish) is not only confusing but could be dangerous to someone with impaired eyesight.
But we were headed for the pool on the other side of the road, and came across this. It is puzzling to anyone, let alone someone pushing a wheelchair. You are forced onto the street, which might be okay if there isn’t a car blocking the way.
We made it to the pool entrance, but it’s a good thing we didn’t want to head further down the hill instead. These cars (right) kindly left a dip in the pavement open but we wouldn’t have been able to reach it.
We’re at the pool, ready to change, but someone needs the toilet. Have you ever tried to push a wheelchair over tall grass? Or over someone’s feet? The path is not wide enough and it is almost impossible to get round those sharp corners.
We wanted to access the bar -we needed a drink by then – but that’s almost as difficult as anywhere else. Not only is there a step but it’s at an awkward angle – and then there’s mud thanks to the shower. Have you ever got a wheelchair bogged down in mud?
The above sequence covers a mere 400-500 metres, can you imagine what it might be like in other places in town? Now that so much make-do work is being done all over the place (we’re thinking particularly of the Mirador and Olof Palme squares) let us hope some forward thinking has been done taking into consideration the needs of our more challenged neighbours – or is that too much to hope for?