More cycling and walking is good – as long as streets are accessible.

Post date: 
Monday, 11 May 2020
Inclusive journeys
Woman with red hair and sunglasses sitting on a train

The Government has announced £250m for changes to street design to encourage more walking and cycling.

However it’s important these changes are made in a way that keeps streets accessible for blind and partially sighted people.

Changes included in the announcement  are accelerated roll-out of e-scooters – which could be with us as early as June, pop up cycleways, and widened pavements. It’s intended to encourage more people to walk and cycle while social distancing measures are in place.

While it’s great news that more people will be walking and cycling to work, and there’ll be less pollution in the air, we want to make sure this new program of work is thought-through and accessibility is maintained for blind and partially sighted people:

  • Where pavements are extended out into the road, the surface of the pavement along with the kerb should be physically extended. This would enable all pedestrians to detect and use the increased pedestrian space.
  • Where pop-up cycle lanes are introduced, signage should be placed on the road/cycle lane, not on the pavement, and there should always be a detectable kerb between vehicles – including bikes – and pedestrians.
  • Where e-scooters are trialled, they should never be allowed on pavements and this must be robustly enforced to ensure pedestrians are not put at risk.
  • Where any changes to street layouts or routes have been made, these changes must be communicated in an accessible way to the blind and partially sighted people who live locally.

We are particularly concerned that E-Scooters are being rolled out without us having been able to raise concerns from the blind and partially sighted community about these vehicles. We have been compiling evidence on this and are disappointed that this has not been taken into account when making this decision.

Our ‘courtesy code’

Social distancing is extremely difficult for blind and partially sighted people, making it difficult or impossible for people with sight loss to get outside to make essential journeys or exercise during the coronavirus outbreak. It is essential that people are aware that not all disabilities are visible and to be considerate to other pedestrians who may have hidden disabilities.

That’s why we are calling for the introduction of a Coronavirus Courtesy Code to enable safe social distancing for all road users. We want to make sure that people can:

  • Keep safe and keep 2 metres apart
  • Be aware that not all disabilities, including sight loss, are visible
  • Work together to ensure everyone can use our roads and paths