In an ABS survey in 2009, 4.0 million people (18.5% of the population) reported having a disability.
Of people with a disability, Mobility aids used by about 15% of them.
So about 600,000 people nationwide use mobility aids of some kind: walking sticks, walking frames, wheelchairs.
Additionally, the 2011 Census says there are 1,457,571 people aged under 5. Let’s assume that all of these kids either ride in a pram pushed by a parent, or walk under close supervision with a parent, eg another 1,457,571.
And let’s ignore for a moment that some of the 600,000 people who use mobility aids are aged under 5, or supervising those under 5.
What we get is that perhaps around three and a half million people (about 1 in 6) in Australia have some challenges with simply walking down the street.
They need two things to help get around their neighbourhood.
Firstly they need adequate footpaths provided by councils and road authorities. This means both sides of the street, built with proper drainage, and designed for minimising journey distances, rather than taking long detours to get places. Adequate road crossing places also need to be provided — responsive traffic lights, pedestrian refuges (islands) and so on.
And secondly, they need people to not block the footpaths with their motor vehicles. To do so is the ultimate in arrogance and thoughtlessness for three and a half million of your fellow citizens. Yet I see it continually when walking. It’s high time there was a crackdown on it.
Personally, in the last few months I’ve left several polite but firm notes around my neighbourhood on repeat offending vehicles — they seem to work, and it’s probably easier than trying to convince the council or police to do something about it (though pleasingly, it does sometimes happen).