Making Bedminster Pavements Age Friendly

One of the key areas that Age Friendly is focusing on is ‘Outdoor Spaces and Buildings’, looking at how older people in Bristol can access outdoor spaces and buildings that meet their needs. A growing concern in this area is ensuring that the pavements in Bristol are suitable for older people.

Ben Barker, an older resident based in BS3 is a strong believer in creating a community that is Age Friendly, and has become increasingly concerned about pavement access for older people. Ben has experienced this for himself when he walked along the pavements with his brother-in-law who was in a wheelchair at the time. Ben found that they couldn’t use the pavements and had to go out into the roadway.

“The area is awash with cars, including commuters. Narrow pavements are often an obstacle course with recycling bins, parked cars and other obstructions forcing people onto the road or discouraging them from coming out in the first place.   This is especially difficult for those with mobility or sight problems”. Ben Barker

Ben Barker worked with the Greater Bedminster Community Partnership that secured funding from the Green Capital for the ‘Let’s Walk’ Bedminster project in 2015. This funding allowed Ben to raise awareness about this issue by engaging with public agencies such as the Bristol City Council and the police. He is keen to emphasise that this is a major equalities issue as people with disabilities are being increasingly excluded from community life.

We asked Ben how he is getting on with the project:

This project is a slow plod. The law is very uncertain. The resolution of public agencies is weak. Most people do not see leaving their bin permanently on the footway as a problem. Pavement car parkers think they are doing a good thing by getting out of the way of fire engines. Anyway, it’s only pedestrians! Only long term campaigning is likely to change the culture of ‘cars first’. Getting Bristol to think about being Age (and Child) friendly is a good way to change people’s understanding.” 

When Bristol applies to be a part of the World Health Organisation’s Age Friendly Cities, this will help us along our way to working hard to make this city great to grow old in.

Becoming an age friendly city is just as much about smaller everyday actions as it is about larger policy goals. If you are working to improve your local street or know of someone doing something similar please get in touch with Vivienne at viviennewatson@ageukbristol.org.uk


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