Do cyclists in shared zones pose a threat to the disabled?

08.34 | 6 April 2011 | | 1 comment

A Surrey town has banned cycling in its pedestrianised centre after lobbying from groups representing people with disabilities (Guardian).

According to the report, until now Woking has done well as a ‘cycling town’: a major off-road route through the town has been upgraded and more cycle parking has been installed.

Cycling has increased substantially but is held back by large, busy roads deemed by many too dangerous to cycle on. Cyclists were, until two years ago, obliged to use an arterial road which circles Woking town centre, but over three years six cyclists were injured along this stretch of road.

To make cycling easier and safer, access was permitted to the road network through the town centre, much of which has been part-pedestrianised, with motor vehicle access greatly restricted. Over the last two years there have been no major accidents, suggesting that cyclists and pedestrians mix perfectly well, reports the Guardian.

The decision to reverse this for most of the day was a result of sustained campaigning by a coalition of disability lobby groups, helped by Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB), which believes that cyclists in the town centre pose a threat to people with disabilities.

The Guardian recognises that streets should be accessible to all and that the needs of visually impaired people should be taken into account, but questions whether this should come at the cost to everyone else – including those who would be prepared to cycle more if conditions were conductive.

Click here to read the full Guardian report.


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    If the streets were accessible to all then chaos would reign. Should pedestrians and cyclists and motor vehicles be allowed to share the same space…. I think not. But its starting to happen [shared space will not work].

    The same argument can apply, should one small sector or the public have increased rights to the road, or pavement at the expense of everyone else, including the blind,deaf, lame and otherwise disabled.

    If the cyclist wants to make use of pedestrian streets and other areas then let him or her get of the bike and walk, its healthy and will be less fraught with problems and they have that right now without the dangers or concern that could be caused to others.

    The argument goes both ways and one must remember there are laws [or were] drawn up many years ago for the regulation of cyclists and the offences they can and do now commit. And that was at a time when there were many more cyclists on the road, commuting to and from the local factory or other place of work or school.

    In the last 20yrs millions of pounds have been used up in the production of special roads for cyclists [many lay empty] and a special case has been made. Obviously pedal cyclist have a strong, listened to, lobby by ministers but lets have some common sense. They want it all and will not be satisfied with less.

    Bob Craven
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