The National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK) has appealed to the Government to launch an independent inquiry into the design principles of shared spaces.
‘Shared space’ covers a variety of schemes that remove street furniture, often taking out crossings, road markings and curbs on the principle it creates a safer road environment.
In a visit to Downing Street on 22 July, NFBUK presented a number of documents to support its case, including a letter from new president Andrew Hodgson and an endorsement from Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE, the blind ex-Paralympic swimming champion who now represents the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
In his letter, Mr Hodgson says that blind people are being ‘progressively excluded’ from streets as a result of shared space schemes.
Andrew Hodgson added: “Blind and many other vulnerable people will not dare to attempt to cross such a traffic flow and are therefore effectively excluded from these shared streets, and have to find other suitable centres to walk meet and shop.”
The NFBUK delegation was led by Sarah Gayton, who told the Transport Network website that she strongly disputes casualty and collision data relating to well-known shared spaces schemes, including the number of collisions that happened prior to the schemes.
Based on information from an FOI request, Ms Gayton suggested she had ‘concrete evidence’ to show that ‘misinformation is being provided on these schemes’.
A report published by Lord Chris Holmes in July 2015 described the concept of ‘shared space’ as a “planning folly” and called for “an immediate moratorium on all shared space schemes until thorough impact assessments can be conducted”.
Earlier this year the NFBUK claimed it had not been properly consulted over new guidelines on shared space schemes currently being prepared by the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT), and expected to be published later this summer.