Across London, boroughs are considering their transport strategies for the next twenty years. Each borough, as it puts together its Local Implementation Plan (or LIP), has a duty to consult with “Such Organisations representative of disabled people as the council considers appropriate”.
So this is a good time for disabled and older people, and the groups which represent us, to tell your borough the improvements you’d like to see to transport in your borough.
The LIPs set out how each borough plans to deliver the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) over the next 20 years. Your LIP should be available on your council website, or phone your council and ask to speak to the transport planning department to be directed to it, or have one sent.
Some transport modes (such as some bus stops, Tube stations) fall outside boroughs’ remit, as they are the responsibility of Transport for London (TfL).
But the LIPs lay out what local councils will do to improve transport in their area.
It’s important that boroughs set out concrete plans to improve physical accessibility in their boroughs for older and disabled people. There are at least 890,000 Londoners with reduced mobility – that’s more than one tenth of London’s population. And almost all of us, especially as we grow older, will have a need for accessible transport. Improvements to physical accessibility of transport are therefore a smart investment for London councils, as improvements to transport accessibility benefit almost everyone at some point in their lives.
Now is the time to make your views heard. Search on your borough’s website for ‘Local Implementation Plan 2011 – 2031’, or phone and ask to speak to your council’s transport planning department.
Some boroughs, like Croydon and Lambeth have questionnaires to guide your responses. Others don’t. Some have already finished their consultations, though may extend the deadline if you approach them – remind them of their duty to consult with disabled groups.
Be warned: the LIPs are huge, hundreds of pages.
But don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to read the whole thing. The Equalities Impact Assessment section is a good place to start, it may well have information on how the LIP impacts on older and disabled people (e.g. http://www.hounslow.gov.uk/lip_2011_eia.pdf).
Some things you might like to consider:
1) Is there a commitment to improving access to transport for people with reduced mobility? Is transport accessibility for older and disabled people is adequately prioritised (even mentioned) in the LIP objectives?
2) Is there a commitment to invest in improving access to bus stops? A report from London Travelwatch found that around 50% of London’s bus stops overall are accessible, ranging from 85% in Kingston to 31% in Barnet and Havering. Hounslow’s LIP, for example, is planning to make 80% of its bus stops accessible by 2020. (see Chapter 3.3 http://www.hounslow.gov.uk/lip_2011_2.pdf)
3) Is there a commitment to pressing for step free stations in the borough – including step free from platform to train? Barking and Dagenham Council are seeking funding for stepfree station access Dagenham East station.
4) Does the LIP include a commitment to accessible street design? Especially for wheelchair and scooter users, and blind and Visually Impaired people, street design is very important. The council should be aware that the Shared Space concept can, if badly designed, exclude some disabled people. Dropped kerbs can help wheelchair and scooter users. Tactile paving is vital to ensure visually impaired people can use streets and stations safely.
5) Does the LIP commit to retaining, or increasing, disabled parking bays?
6) Does the document mention the value of community transport schemes, such as Shopmobility? Is there a commitment to funding these?
7) Journey planning and travel information needs to be available in a variety of formats, including large print and audio, so it is accessible to all. Has your borough considered Talking Bus Stops?
Here are some consultation responses from other organisations, to give an idea of how you might set out your response.
A response to the Lewisham LIP on behalf of cyclists: http://lewishamcyclists.co.uk/campaign-update/draft-lip-consultation-our-response-to-lewisham/
A response from Wandsworth Living Streets: http://www.livingstreets.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=69&t=941
Let us know how you get on – please do contact us with any responses you make.