A blind woman in Auckland says her life is at risk because of construction work blocking footpaths and accessibility advocates are calling on Auckland Transport to enforce stricter guidelines for its contractors.
Rhonda Comins told the Herald she was walking down a path in Newmarket when she suddenly met an unexpected obstacle.
Clueless as to where the tactile paving went, Comins said she was in a state of panic.
To get around the obstacle meant going on the main road in the middle of traffic, Comins said.
"I am usually independent and I like being that way, this one time I felt like it was taken away from me and I was put at serious risk.
"I had to find my own way around the obstacle - no worker came to my aid."
Contractors are required to abide by the code of practice for temporary traffic management - "which ensures that the traffic management plan (which we approve) is set up for pedestrian users of all abilities (ie – the use of ramps)," Auckland Transport's spokesperson said.
"If there is a kerb, then wheelchair and pram users can access this (ramp); or there needs to be signage for pedestrians to use the other side.
"If it's not fully safe to cross the road, then the traffic controllers on the job should be assisting pedestrians."
The spokesperson said the agency was keen to hear from anyone who experienced issues so they could escalate them through their maintenance teams.
"Safety for everyone is always our top priority.
"We will ensure we continue to work with staff and contractors to make sure they are aware of any accessibility concerns."
Accessible and sustainable transport advocate Tim Adriaansen said Auckland Transport contractors refrained from placing signs on the road with traffic so they put it on walkways, which was an issue for many users.
"If the footpath or cycleway is blocked for any reason, an alternative safe route needs to be provided.
"Auckland Transport should be auditing more traffic management operations. But problems are identified so often on Auckland's streets, it would be best to improve the training and guidelines that contractors follow.
"Most of the time, contractors simply aren't thinking about the needs of people travelling outside of a car, and that needs to change."
Access Matters lead campaigner Juliana Carvalho said Comins' struggle was not a "one-off".
"Local communities need advance notice if any construction or closures are scheduled on a footpath or pedestrian crossing, because this impacts accessibility. Safe and accessible alternative routes must be provided and clearly communicated.
"People with access needs have the right to navigate areas they live in safely just like anyone else."