News / Edmonton

Mighty wheels rolling towards winter accessibility issue awareness

Timothy Maxwell has been blogging since 2009 about accessibility issues, and is taking a show-don't-tell approach to highlighting winter-specific hurdles.

Timothy Maxwell says he is fighting for better accessibility for everyone.

Kevin Tuong/ For Metro

Timothy Maxwell says he is fighting for better accessibility for everyone.

A squeaky wheel gets grease, but online videos get hits.

That’s why accessibility blogger Timothy Maxwell has turned to the web to highlight winter mobility barriers in Edmonton.

“My camera crew is filming me going on little journeys, like to the store,” said Maxwell, a wheelchair user.

“The videos are to show people and show the government the reality.”

It’s a reality he’s been blogging about since 2009, through his MightyWheels.ca blog, highlighting how accessibility challenges that exist in warmer months are exacerbated in winter, making sidewalks and pathways impassable in some cases.

Sidewalks that are “slanted, cracked, and basically unusable” in the summer become “10 times worse in the winter,” he said.

But his lobbying and blogging hasn’t created the change he wants to see. So, recently, Maxwell reached out to The Local Good to see if they had a videographer who could help him show people his daily struggle.

Jude Keefe answered the call and helped film a simple trip around the block to a grocery store last week.

“I was trying to profile him without helping him… which is want he wanted,” she said. “It was heartbreaking to be a part of it that way.”

In the video, Maxwell gets stuck and loses traction, illustrating the challenges faced by wheelchair users, mothers with strollers and elderly people navigating the city.

“I think the video achieves exactly what he wants to show,” Keefe said, adding that at one point a passerby insists on helping Maxwell, demonstrating the flip side.

“I really hope that he is able to make a statement with it because it’s the beginning of something, I feel.”

Keefe’s video will be posted to Maxwell’s blog later this month.

How to help

Zachary Weeks is a wheelchair user and member of the Accessibility Advisory Council. He offered Metro tips for businesses and residents to make life more liveable for people with mobility challenges this winter:

1) Shovel: “One of the easiest ways to help improve winter and sensibility is by simply shovelling your sidewalk… This goes a long way to ensuring people with mobility challenges are able to use the sidewalk instead of driving on the road into oncoming traffic.”

2) Clear curbside ramps: “One of the most frustrating aspects of winter is snow-filled curb ramps on the corner of sidewalk paths. [Clearing them] may prevent someone in a wheelchair or scooter from having to turn back… or even worse yet, get stuck in the snow.”

3) Helping hands: “Keep an eye out for people who may need a bit of a helping hand when it comes to getting through the snow. Trying to navigate through soft and wet snow is the worst.”

5) Sand/Ice melt: “Make sure to use sand or ice melt to prevent slipping and falling... If it works for vehicles, it will work for wheeled mobility devices.”

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