By Dillon Thomas

WINDSOR, Colo. (CBS4)– Following the significant snowstorm of 2021 some people who rely on wheelchairs to get out and exercise say they’re still trapped from doing so thanks to insufficient plowing and shoveling. While roads crews and residents worked hard to clear the streets and sidewalks, many neglected to consider clearing the roadway in front of the ADA compliant sidewalk ramps.

(credit: CBS)

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Some places even mounded the snow at the corners effectively making it impossible for many people to access the sidewalks.

“You really can’t go anywhere because of weather,” said Les Borsheim, a paraplegic who enjoys exercising outdoors.

Borsheim, a former professional hockey player, was paralyzed years ago following a motorcycle crash. Since then he has tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting outside and working out in his community. He is able to exercise his arms, chest and cardio by wheeling through trails and sidewalks.

“I love getting out for rolls, workouts outside of here,” Borsheim told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “Exercise and sunshine, I try and get as much of it as I can.”

(credit: CBS)

Borsheim, a native Canadian, said he typically loves the snow. However, it can become infuriating when he sees his neighbors out enjoying the warm weather that follows while he is still confined to his home. Because not all sidewalks, ramps and roadways are cleared fully he isn’t able to access many of his favorite trails and sidewalks.

Borsheim invited Thomas to go on a walk with him. He made it to the parking lot of his condo complex before he was trapped. The crews had shoveled the sidewalks, however they left the ramp to his vehicle and the roadway covered with slush.

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In order to continue with the interview, and his day, Thomas had to shovel the parking area for Borsheim. His wheelchair was sticking in slush only two inches deep, showing how necessary it was to clear all the ice possible.

“(Grounds crews) sometimes forget the little ramps a person in a wheel chair needs to use,” Borsheim said. “It is frustrating.”

Even with the assistance of a push or pull by his nurse assistant, Borsheim was still stuck in the snow at times while trying to enjoy his workout. Some corners were clear and accessible, others were covered with snow as high as three feet.

“It is impossible for someone like me, in a wheelchair, to get up there on the sidewalk,” Borsheim said.

(credit: CBS)

He said he knew the public, and the workers in charge of snow removal, were not intentionally blocking his access. He said he often tries to be forgiving due to their ignorance on the need.

“I never thought of it before my injury,” Borsheim said.

In order to make a more inclusive community for the elderly, as well as those who have phsycial challenges, Borsheim encourages everyone who lives near a street corner to consider making a path out in to the road so people like himself can enjoy the beautiful Colorado outdoors.

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“Build up a little good karma, get a little fresh air, and do a good deed,” Borsheim said. “It means a ton for someone to go out of their way to do that so I can get out of my house and on my way.”

Dillon Thomas