The National Federation of the Blind of the UK have recently been made aware of the proposals put forward by Hounslow Council to modify the temporary Cycleway 9 after the safety concerns were raised about the scheme by disabled and older people. However, it is clear the designs do not go far enough to ensure the safe access of public transport for blind, DeafBlind and visually impaired bus passengers.
Andrew Hodgson, President of the National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK) who’s charity raised concerns of the bus stop bypasses during the COP26 Climate Change conference says the modifications put forward by Hounslow Council do not go far enough. Andrew stated the following:
‘Hounslow Council have not addressed safety and accessibility concerns for people like me, people with no sight. If Councillor Hanif Khan, the Cabinet Member for Transport, thinks it is acceptable for blind, visually impaired, disabled and vulnerable bus passengers to have to step out into a cycle lane to get to and from the bus stop, when it is well known that the majority of cyclists do not stop for pedestrians, he can think again. We need safe access at bus stops, and this means direct access from the pavement on and off the bus. These changes simply do not go far enough. This is not safe, sustainable or equitable active travel for all. It is not an inclusive solution for all to meet the Councils environmental ambitions, you simply cannot have sustainability without accessibility, a key theme which came out very strongly at the recent COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. The Council have to go back to the drawing board and ensure our accessibility needs are met, this is simply not good enough’.
The impact of inaccessible bus stops and cycle infrastructure for blind people was recently covered by the BBC Intouch program, which exposed how independent blind bus users were now avoiding using bus stops due to the position of the cycle lanes. This is blatant discrimination and this has to stop. The NFBUK highlighted this issue during the COP26 Climate Change Conference, where cycle lanes have been introduced that separate the bus stop from the main pavement. Locally elected councillors and COP26 delegates were given the chance to do a walk, wheel and talk down Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow to see for themselves the access problems they created. Resulting in bus stops being closed to blind people, as clearly shown in the attached photo, which shows Sandy Taylor, the NFBUK Scottish Chair, at one of the bus stops he cannot access due to the location of the cycle lane. It was reassuring that the people who accompanied Sandy on this COP26 side event agreed about the problems he raised.
Sandy Taylor, Scottish Chair, NFBUK stated:
’These are suicide crossings, there is no way I am going to play Russian Roulette with moving cyclists just to get on a bus. Do you honestly think this design has considered the safety and accessibility of blind people like myself, let alone other disabled and vulnerable pedestrians. They were never safe and with the rapid transition to people using e-bikes it makes them even more unfit for purpose. It is imperative this design is halted and existing schemes go under remedial works to ensure bus passengers get direct access to and from the bus from the pavement. Blind people are not prepared to accept any further discrimination by these designs, it is against our Human Rights and we demand designs to allow safe access to public transport’.
Changes to Temporary Cycleway 9 Reported on www.chiswickw4.com http://www.chiswickw4.com/default.asp?section=info&page=cyclehighway070.htm
The NFBUKs Street Access Campaign Coordinator has filmed bus stop by passes before and after the pandemic, to illustrate the charities concerns over the behaviour of cyclists at these designs.
• September 2018 https://twitter.com/seaofchangefilm/status/1179370010487263232?s=21 and
• Earlier this year https://twitter.com/seaofchangefilm/status/1425396948807323648?s=21