The Department for Transport (DfT) has made a major announcement on shared space road, calling on local authorities to pause any new development of these schemes. This is part of their Inclusive Mobility Strategy, published a few days ago, and which Transport for All (TfA) welcomed.
This is a major victory for Disabled activists and organisations, who have been campaigning on this issue. At TfA, we have heard from countless Disabled and older people who are afraid to walk through shared spaces, because they feel unsafe. We have also heard from some Visually Impaired people being knocked down by cyclists on a shared space. This is why Transport for All has been calling on the Government and local authorities to take immediate action to prevent these schemes from turning our high streets and public spaces into ‘no-go’ zones for Disabled and older people.
We therefore welcome this announcement. In its strategy, the DfT says “While we consider the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) and Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC)’s recommendations and how to take them forward, we are requesting that local authorities pause any shared space schemes incorporating a level surface they are considering, and which are at the design stage. We are also temporarily suspending Local Transport Note 1/11. This pause will allow us to carry out research and produce updated guidance.”
In April, TfA co-signed, the National Federation of the Blind (NFBUK) petition, along with 50 other organisations; this asked the Government to take urgent action to implement the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) report published a year earlier. This report, called ‘Building for Equality – Disability and the Built Environment’, condemned the use of shared space roads. It called for the schemes to be halted, all existing schemes to be reviewed and modified, and for the underlying guidance for shared space to be withdrawn and replaced with inclusive design guidance.
We also joined the National Federation of the Blind (NFBUK) outside Parliament, for a day of action against shared space design and a meeting with the Minister for Disabled people Sarah Newton.
Transport for All’s trustee, Mohammed Mohsanali says:“This is a fantastic news for all Disabled and older people. As a visually impaired myself, the shared spaces are extremely dangerous and a death trap, because there are no kerbs, tactile marking or traffic lights to keep me safe from the moving traffic. And obviously I can’t make eye-contact with the drivers.”
But this is not the end of the campaign and Transport for All is now calling on the Government and local authorities to review and modify or removed exciting shared space configurations. Thanks again for your continued support which is helping us fight for improvements in transport for Older and Disabled Londoners.
Sarah Gayton, shared space coordinator at the National Federation of the Blind (NFBUK), says “I would like to thank all Disabled activists and TfA members for their support.”
She added: “What is critical now is that NFBUK, along with Transport for All and other Disabled people’s organisations ensure safe, accessible and inclusive design guidance is co-produced with the Department of Transport and with other key stakeholders. It is important that the Government take on board the recommendations made in the Women & Equalities Select Committee Report.”
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