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Unpleasant Environment Fails Elderly Says Engineer

Unpleasant Environment Fails Elderly, Says Engineer

We have failed a large section of our community by providing an environment that is unpleasant, and provides low accessibility to an increasing proportion of the community - the elderly, says Steve Abley, Chairman of the Canterbury Branch of the Institution of Professional Engineers (IPENZ).

“If we look at our environment and say ‘this is the best we can do’ then we have failed. The environment we create today must sustain us as we get older and less able,” he said.

Steve said many New Zealand cities have construction site’s in the middle of the CBD which hamper pedestrian’s movement.

“Constructions sites with scaffolding and ruble on the footpath are unpleasant for the majority of pedestrians, but what about those in a wheelchair, a mobility scooter, or are sight-impaired and need a stick? For these people getting around our cities is a hazard to their health,” he said.

“It is not uncommon for the elderly whose sight may be impaired and who use a stick for support to have a fear of falling. That fear exists from experience, or perception and unpleasant, unsafe, and badly maintained footpaths can make a trip to the shops intimidating by foot. The last thing any community wants is to segregate the population and make the elderly stay indoors, as the social implications, particularly health issues, are immense,” said Steve.

Steve believes transportation engineers need more feedback from the communities about issues which they face daily. He said it was too much to expect senior engineering leaders to provide all the community solutions without having the communities discuss their needs and problems.

Steve is discussing his experiences of New Zealand’s built environment at the IPENZ annual convention next year in Auckland (Waipuna Lodge, 16 March - 18 March 2005). Steve will also introduce many of the new tools that allow engineers and planners to assess walking environments that aim to produce the environments he wants to develop for all members of the community.

About Convention/Steve Abley…2

2/ About Convention 2005 The overall theme for the IPENZ 2005 convention is “Engineers as Leaders”, and as it is the “Year of the Built Environment” the Institution has recognised this in the Convention programme, with the sub-theme being “Engineering the Built Environment”.

The Convention will consist of a President’s Reception, a Fellows and Achievers Dinner and technical sessions titled: Engineers as Leaders, Engineering the Built Environment, Building and Construction, Software Engineering and Engineering Materials. For further information visit the Convention 2005 website

About Steve Abley Steve Abley’s traffic and transportation consultancy work means he has dealt with a large cross section of the community, from the mobility impaired to private developers seeking innovative, feasible and acceptable transportation solutions. Steve Abley is a Chartered Engineer specialising in Transport and Traffic issues. He has co-written Designing Living Streets, a guide on how to improve the walking environment and attract walkers to streets, which was launched in London’s House of Commons recently.

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