A new report by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has highlighted the increasing difficulties that blind and partially sighted people are facing when trying to use the streets and pedestrian areas to get to work, go to the shops, to see friends, or exercise independently.
A big increase in quiet vehicles like electric cars, bikes and e-scooters on streets are one of the main issues. A lack of vital street landmarks such as detectable kerbs and pelican crossings are also making walking journeys increasingly risky for people with sight loss.
Pavement parking, bins and overhanging shrubbery have always been a concern but now new pavement obstructions such as dockless rental bikes and e-scooters are making things worse. The easing of lockdown measures has also made independent travel more difficult, with many bars and cafes taking up vital pavement space which impacts on cane users and those with guide dogs.
The report key findings found:
Lindsay Coyle, RNIB Regional Campaigns Manager, said: “We need everyone to understand how riding bikes or e-scooters on pavements and pedestrian spaces can be dangerous and intimidating for people with sight loss. Rental bikes and e-scooters left parked on pavements are a trip hazard which can cause injuries and damage confidence. Parking cars on pavements makes my life as a partially sighted person just plain difficult and bins left in the middle of the pavement after collection is also a major trip hazard which we can all help to avoid.
“Moving vehicles can be hard to locate and interacting with them can be dangerous. We need physical kerbs separating pedestrians from all vehicles including cycles and cycleways, and pelican and puffin crossings across roads and cycleways. We need local authorities, transport operators, designers and the Department of Transport to play a part and work with us to protect our pavements so everyone can use our streets independently.”
To find out more about the new report, Seeing streets differently: How changes in our streets and vehicles are affecting the lives of blind and partially sighted people, click here
Over two million people live with sight loss and this number is set to rise to four million by 2050. Instead of our streets becoming more accessible, they remain a daily obstacle course.
Media enquiries to Gorki Duhra, PR Manager at RNIB on [email protected] or call 07960 299810.
We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.
RNIB. See differently. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk