Saturday, June 20, 2020

Mini Holland Designs “Ignoring Legal Obligations” To The Blind

A national body for the blind has criticised the council for road designs part of the controversial Mini Holland scheme.

The National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK) is concerned Waltham Forest Council is “ignoring its obligations” under UK Equality law and designing road layouts that make towns inaccessible for blind people.

The council’s Copenhagen-style pedestrian crossings, where there is no dropped curb and the levels of both the road and pavement match each other, are of particular concern for the group.

The crossing designs were brought in as part of the authority’s Enjoy Waltham Forest scheme, also known as Mini Holland, which aims to encourage more people to walk and cycle throughout the borough but has proven divisive in the community.

Andrew Hodgson, the NFBUK’s president, said: “We have visited several areas recently where planners have clearly not considered the needs of blind and disabled people.

“The mini-Holland cycle lane schemes funded by Transport for London (TfL) have created real distress for blind and disabled people.

“Copenhagen-style crossings create particular problems for those of us who use white canes or guide dogs to help us get around.

“It is very difficult to determine where to stop on these arrangements.”

A spokesman for the NFBUK added the body recognised the value of encouraging more active transport, but insisted designs must enhance and protect the independence of disabled and vulnerable pedestrians, as well as ensuring the safety of cyclists.

The spokesman said the NFBUK was happy to engage with design teams to ensure that future infrastructure changes fully take the needs of all pedestrians into account.

Cllr Clyde Loakes, deputy leader and cabinet member for the environment, said: “These Copenhagen Crossings are commonly used in places considered the best for walking and cycling, such as Holland, Denmark and Germany.

“They are designed to keep the footpaths clear, making it easier for all road users to access the junctions, while also slowing vehicles down entering or exiting the side roads.

“The design reinforces the rules of the Highway Code by encouraging drivers to give way to pedestrians crossing the road.

“Waltham Forest Council is leading in the introduction of these crossings having installed more than 90 through the Enjoy Waltham Forest programme.

“We have been monitoring their use in our borough and are unaware of any accidents involving pedestrians at these crossings.”

Source : The East London And West Essex Guardian 

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