Brendon Donohue is a 27-year-old young man. He is good company, articulate, and funny. He is also blind and a passionate advocate for disability rights.

Brendan lives at Common Ground, a government-funding housing project that accommodates many people with impaired vision and impaired mobility. He says he can’t safely cross the road unassisted, which cuts him off from the surrounding community. Brendan has asked the Lord Mayor of Brisbane for a zebra crossing on Hope Street to provide a safe crossing point: not just for himself, but also for 246 other vulnerable tenants living at 15 Hope Street.

“I want to live independently, not constantly in fear about accessing my community. The inaccessible design of the neighbourhood makes it really hard for pedestrians with a disability to access the community,” Brendan said.

“This would not just be beneficial for me. It would be beneficial for everyone, including mothers with prams.”

It does not appear to be a big ask, but Council has rejected the request.

On Wednesday, Brendan was joined by supporters and friends at the corner of Peel Street and Hope Street in South Brisbane for a rally to raise awareness of the need for safe pedestrian infrastructure in the city.

Brendan had negotiated with Police for a permit to hold the protest on busy Peel Street during peak hour. It was a short, positive, almost joyful protest. Joining Brendan were Councillor Jonathan Sri and Local Member for South Brisbane, Amy McMahon. Kurilpa Futures and West End Community Association, and mobility advocacy groups Space 4 Cycling and Queensland Walks sent representatives.

Collage: top left Brendan with Belinda Ward; top right, Amy MacMahon with young female, bottom right, Riff Raff Band playing, bottom right, older man and older woman clapping.

The Riffraff Radical Marching Band got the group dancing with renditions of “These boots are made for walking” and “Highway to hell”. See HERE

Brendan told the media on Wednesday that Council needs to build a city that is inclusive for everyone.

“That’s why we are all gathered here today because it is wrong that people almost have to be hit when leaving their homes.”

“Disability access is vital because it allows disabled people to access community. It makes the city for everyone because one day, at some point, everyone will be disabled. So, we need to build infrastructure with disability in mind,” Brendan said.

Councillor Jonathan Sri, who helped Brendan organise the rally, said on Wednesday:

“People like Brendan deserve to be able to move freely around the neighbourhood. That’s not too much to demand, and Council’s failure to prioritise disability access is a violation of the basic human rights of people like Brendan.”

“This obviously isn’t just about this one pedestrian crossing and this one unsafe location: this is a problem across the city. Wherever you’re moving around our suburbs, it’s cars that get prioritised and pedestrians that keep getting overlooked.”

Cr Sri said there are severe safety concerns in his electorate on Dornoch Terrace and Hardgrave Road.

“Every morning, people take their lives into their own hands, trying to get across that road. We’ve had multiple hospitalisations and serious accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.”

Cr Sri said he has heard from dozens of residents, not just in his electorate.

“I hear from parents who don’t feel safe when their kids walk to school anymore. I hear from elderly residents who can’t safely cross the road to get to the bus stop because there are no safe crossing points, and cars don’t give way to pedestrians on busy roads. So, we are calling on the Lord Mayor to allocate funding for this zebra crossing, but also to allocate more funding for pedestrian crossings. This should be a priority.”

Brendan is not new to advocacy: he is on the Management Committee for Queensland Advocacy Incorporated. He worked with the previous Mayor and the Council’s access and diversity team to install braille signs on traffic lights around West End.

Brendan said he now hopes for a ‘proper’ response from Council on a zebra crossing on Hope Street and their agreement to work with him.

More about Brendan Donohue

Listen here to an interview with Brendan by Nance Haxton. Click on link below.