Don't create "no-go" zones in Glasgow, say campaigners with sight loss

Post date: 
Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Blind and partially sighted people are assembling in Glasgow’s George Square this afternoon in an ongoing bid to persuade the council to amend plans they fear will create no-go zones for them in the city.

Sight loss charity RNIB Scotland will stage a mock-up of one of the most controversial features of the new plans, the placing of cycleways between pavements and bus stops.

It will then invite city councillors to try to avoid oncoming cyclists while wearing special spectacles that simulate different sight loss conditions.

Blind and partially sighted Glasgow residents will talk to them about their experience of inaccessible streets and the impact these developments could have on them.

A similar event in George Square last year attracted wide media coverage - but failed to prevent the design feature going ahead as part of the redevelopment of Sauchiehall Street. RNIB Scotland still hopes its members and supporters can persuade the council to ensure that Argyle Street, Byres Road and The Avenues project will be accessible.

Dr Catriona Burness, campaigns manager with the charity, said: “We have been campaigning for several years to make streets less of an obstacle course for visually impaired people, and taken part in 'walk around' discussions in Glasgow with civil engineers. These have underlined problems with existing street design.

“Under the new City Deal, hundreds of streets across Scotland’s cities will be transformed over the next few years. But this places pressures on local authorities to meet deadlines and appear to be encouraging the roll out of similar designs inserting cycle paths and removing kerbs and controlled crossings in favour of zebra crossings.

“RNIB Scotland has already expressed grave concerns over the designs for Sauchiehall Street. The designs elsewhere do not appear to address the same issue of safe movement and crossing for blind and partially sighted people.

“People with a visual impairment aren’t going to feel safe crossing a busy cycleway to get to a bus stop, while cyclists may be endangered if they don’t realise a pedestrian stepping out in front of them can’t see them.”

RNIB Scotland is calling for all redevelopments to include three key features to ensure that they are accessible: physical delineations such as kerbs; traffic lights with audible or tactile signals; and easy access to bus stops.

“Without these, plans that are supposed to transform our cities could end up making large areas of Glasgow inaccessible to blind and partially sighted people,” said Dr Burness.