Blind people put in danger by city centre cycle plan

Sauchiehall street cycling row web

RNIB has said the proposed layout could put the visually impaired at risk

23rd August 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A row has erupted over plans to improve routes for cyclists in Glasgow city centre.

Glasgow City Council has been working on proposals to renovate accessibility in Sauchiehall Street.

However RNIB Scotland is challenging the plans to locate a cycleway between the pavement and bus-stops on the street, saying it is an accident waiting to happen as blind people could be hit by bikes as they cross the cycle path.

On Wednesday, RNIB staged a mock-up of the situation they fear will occur, inviting the city's councillors to try to avoid oncoming cyclists while wearing special spectacles that simulate different sight loss conditions.

Catriona Burness, campaigns manager, said: "While we welcome moves to upgrade Sauchiehall Street, we remain very concerned about this particular aspect of the proposal.

"People with a visual impairment aren't going to feel safe traversing a busy cycleway, while cyclists may also be endangered if they don't realise a pedestrian stepping out in front of them who can't see them. It's an accident waiting to happen.

"RNIB Scotland is calling on Glasgow City Council to either move the cycleway to the south-side of the street, so that pedestrians aren't forced to cross it to get to a bus, or ensure there is a more distinct separation between the cycleway and the footpath, not the 400mm of corrugated paving proposed. We'd also like audio-crossing signals to be positioned along the street.”

The Sauchiehall Street Avenue plans are part of the Glasgow City Deal, aimed at improving the functionality of the area for all the people who use it.

Consultation on the proposals has been carried out over the past two years - with talks taking place between the council and RNIB, Guide Dogs Scotland and the Glasgow City Council Sensory Impairment Unit.

A council spokesman said: “We have been, and continue to be, in dialogue with a range of bodies – including mobility groups and groups working with blind and partially sighted people – over the design and construction of the Avenues project on Sauchiehall Street. As a result of this dialogue and the input we have received, the design of the project has evolved to meet the needs of as many people as possible.”

RNIB is concerned about level surfacing being used for the cycle lane, disabled users having to cross the cycleway to access bus stops and has called for audio crossings to be fitted.

However the council has said that the level surfacing plan was backed by Guide Dogs and the sensory impairment unit, that tactile paving be fitted at crossing points and surface treatment will be added near bus stops.  

The plans have been welcomed by Cycling Scotland, which has called for all parties to work together to find the best solution.

A spokesperson said: “Sauchiehall Street regeneration will support local businesses, improve air quality and people’s health and benefit people who don’t use a car. Bus stops in a busy urban environment are locations of potential conflict with other road users and need site-specific solutions which work for everyone, especially people with visual or other impairments. Detailed design should involve discussions with different user groups and learn from experience of bus stop bypasses in other cities.

“The key design principles include that people should be cycling more slowly, giving way to vulnerable pedestrians, and people with a visual impairment should be able to safely cross a cycle track at the bus stop.”