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People with sight loss in Edinburgh at risk due to new street designs

RNIB Scotland has expressed concern that moves underway to reconfigure the streets of the capital are putting blind and partially sighted people at risk.

"We need to make sure the new emphasis on active travel makes going out and about in Edinburgh a pleasanter and safer experience for everyone."

James Adams, Charity Director

The charity, based in Edinburgh, has welcomed moves to encourage more people to walk or cycle, but says plans must take into account the needs of people with disabilities.

One feature of particular concern to RNIB Scotland is the introduction of more "floating" bus stops in the city, where passengers must cross a cycle lane from the pavement to board or disembark from a bus. Someone with sight loss may not be able to see or hear a cyclist approaching, the charity points out, while a cyclist might reasonably assume they can.

"We'd want controlled crossings where these are in place and warning signs to alert cyclists when they are approaching them," said Mr Adams.

"Even more worrying is the 'bus boarder' street design, where passengers and cyclists share the same space on cycle lanes at bus stops. People getting on or off a bus must do so from the cycle lane, which becomes a shared-use area at that point.

"RNIB very much supports cycling and investment in cycle infrastructure where it is designed inclusively. But we think these kinds of features create an unacceptable level of risk."

The City of Edinburgh Council has been awarded £5 million from the Scottish Government's "Spaces for People" fund. When launching the fund in April, Cabinet Secretary for Transport Michael Matheson urged councils to engage with disability organisations so that plans do not "compromise the ability of people who have impaired mobility to cross roads and to use pedestrian crossing facilities".

Mr Adams said: "We have a golden opportunity to make Scotland's capital a better place for all of its residents and visitors. Let's make sure that's the case for everyone.”