Cluttered on a pavement or trailing down an alley-way, are blocks of stone with varying shapes that are ultimately either square or rectangle. Mostly the colors are dark, and often have a blue or grey undertone with a raised surface causing an uneven pathway. Yes, they are cobblestones.
Although cobblestones are believed to be thousands of years old, and seen as having a historical value with ‘old world charm’, they are not particularly easy or comfortable to walk on – even if you have real feet.
We live in an era where there is an aging population, and with this comes the increase of people with disabilities. Our ‘beloved’ cobblestones no longer fit into the modern day lifestyle.
We are now in a world where our friends, family and neighbors are people with vision impairments, wheelchair users, or with other mobility impairments using all sorts of mobility aids where cobblestones are just plain hard and hazardous work. Imagine not being able to see the raised surface of a cobblestone, the bumpy ride in the wheelchair as you are trying to cross a road or the shuffle of our older generation that can no longer lift their knees as high on every step. For people with disabilities the fear of those little blue rocks can be very daunting.
The angst that overtakes me as I approach an area of cobblestones is like that of a ‘stunned rabbit’, a wide-eyed look of wondering how can I make it without toppling over. As a bilateral amputee, walking on any uneven surface is a challenge – but cobblestones make me feel sick to the stomach. That feeling of rocking back and forth with a hard foot to the ground that has no ‘give’ or capacity to bend or rebound is an uneasy emotion. Not to mention the high risk of a trip or fall, clipping your toes as you can’t feel the next uneven step.
If you are at all ever contemplating cobblestones, think about your future first. Or even better, the future of others. One in five people have a disability, and it could likely be you or someone close to you that may need to have the added unnecessary challenge of facing an uneven road to travel. As if life isn’t hard enough?