Local Authorities, including Westminster City Council in London, have signed up to our ‘Equal Pavements Pledge’ to tackle the inaccessibility of streetspace, and make walking and wheeling more accessible for disabled people.
The pledge outlines seven immediate and simple steps local councils can take to remove the barriers that disabled people face when using footways.
Among the commitments are “maintain a minimum of 1.5m clearance on all pavements”, in a bid to tackle the issue of cafes and restaurants blocking routes with outdoor furniture.
The pledge, which has been endorsed by RNIB, Living Streets, Sustrans, and London TravelWatch, also includes “operate a zero-tolerance approach to street clutter”, going on to explain that businesses should be fined for obstructing pavements with A-boards, and that electric vehicle charging points should be situated “in a way that will not cause obstruction or trip hazard from trailing cables.”
Other commitments listed include a call for more dropped kerbs and tactile paving, as well as protecting Blue Badge bays and addressing the problem of rubbish bags blocking pavements.
Disabled people make up a vast proportion of the UK – 14.1 million (1 in 5 people) people. The combined total spending power of households including at least one disabled person is estimated at £274 billion a year. Research has shown that the inaccessibility of streetspaces is a huge deterrent to disabled people walking and wheeling.
Ensuring disabled people can access their local community actively is crucial to the post-COVID recovery. However, changes made to the streetspace over the pandemic have created a ‘new normal’ that poses even more problems in terms of accessibility than before.
The video, which showed Campaigns Lead Katie Pennick barely able to navigate Soho’s cluttered pavements in her wheelchair, went viral and quickly racked up 2 million views on Twitter.
Since then, Westminster have taken positive action to address the issues and have drastically improved accessibility in the area.
Transport for All hopes to harness the momentum created through this campaign to encourage other local authorities across the UK to enact similar measures and create streetspace that is equitable and accessible to everyone.
Katie Pennick, Campaigns Lead at Transport for All said:
“I personally love sitting outside in the sun with a pint, but al fresco dining cannot be done in a way that impedes accessibility. Outdoor dining, and other changes ushered in during the pandemic, has shone a spotlight on the streets and raised the question of who our pavements are designed for. I hope that we can use this attention to spring councils into action and tackle the very long-standing existing issue of inaccessible pavements.”
Rachael Robathan, Leader of Westminster City Council said:
“Accessibility matters. We’re proud to sign the Equal Pavement Pledge, and work with our partners to continue building a City for All; making sure everyone can enjoy the world-leading hospitality, culture and retail that Westminster has to offer.”
 Pave The Way: The impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on disabled people and the future of Active Travel (2021) page 26 < https://www.transportforall.org.uk/campaigns-and-research/pave-the-way/>