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Stoke Mandeville Way
The Stoke Mandeville Way is a 5 km (3.1 m) public pathway route which has been made accessible for most disabled people. It runs from Aylesbury railway station and town centre to the home of the Paralympic movement at Stoke Mandeville Stadium and beyond to Stoke Mandeville hospital and village. It offers local disabled people and visitors to the Stadium the freedom to move independently between these key points.
The creation of the Way is an ‘Inspired by 2012’ project between BuDS, Aylesbury Vale District and Buckinghamshire County councils. Our aim is to develop the world’s first fully accessible pathway for all disabled people, A Memorandum of Understanding to this effect was signed to coincide with the London Paralympics in 2012.
The second phase of the Stoke Mandeville Way was opened by the then Minister for Disabled People, Mike Penning MP, on 10 April 2014, in the presence of Cllr Carl Etholen, Chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council, Cllr Michael Rand, Chairman of Aylesbury Vale District Council, and other invited guests and BuDS volunteers and supporters.
As well as improving access for disabled people, the Way has the potential to become a key visitor and heritage attraction for Buckinghamshire, especially with the lighting of the Paralympic Heritage Flame at the Stadium every two years.
The Stoke Mandeville Way is patrolled by a small group of volunteer Wardens who report back to BuDS about any problems which may prevent disabled people from using it, such as potholes, blockages such as parked vehicles, overhanging bushes, etc. We can then get the highway authority or the police to quickly sort out these problems. If you would like to join this team, please e-mail [email protected]
Creating the Way
Phase 1 of the Way was completed in summer 2012, creating a level step-free accessible route between Aylesbury town centre and Stoke Mandeville Stadium suitable for use by most disabled or older people, especially wheelchair users and people with mobility impairments. Phase 1 is 2.4 km long (1.5 miles) and runs entirely along public pavements which were brought up to a high standard of mobility accessibility. Additional seats were provided along the whole route for people who need to rest for a while, and the route was clearly signposted to help people with less severe vision impairment or learning difficulties.
Phase 2A of the Way was completed in Spring 2014 and saw the replacement of temporary signs with permanent custom-designed ones, and the extension of the Way so that it links Aylesbury railway station, the town centre, Stoke Mandeville Stadium, Stoke Mandeville hospital and Stoke Mandeville village centre, a distance of 5 km (3.1 m).
Phase 2B of the Way will see the further development of the route by improving information signs and boards for people using the route, especially information for disabled people, visitors and tourists. This phase is being discussed with stakeholders including Transport for Bucks and the National Paralympic Heritage Museum.
Phase 3A, which is aspirational, will see more extensive re-building of the route to make it fully-accessible for all disabled people, including those with more severe and multiple impairments including sensory impairment. It will also be extended to Stoke Mandeville railway station and the Chilterns AONB. Phase 3A will require some ground-breaking design, building and technology innovations which, once tested, will be incorporated in new design standards for accessible routes which can be used all over the UK and the world as a concrete example of the 2012 Paralympic Legacy in action.
Phase 3B of the Way will see public art and heritage installations, perhaps on a Paralympic theme, along the route of the Way to enhance its status as a visitor and tourist attraction. This phase and its timing is being planned now.
If you would like to help BuDS with creating the Stoke Mandeville Way or with any of our other exciting access projects, please e-mail [email protected] or call 01494 568864. We’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to make a donation towards BuDS’ vital work on behalf of disabled people, please click here. Thank you.BuDS would like to thank Sara Rees for her generous donation of the SM Way logo and Jason Tinsley and Bev Johnson for their help in designing the SM Way signs.