I had a really useful meeting today with Guide Dogs Scotland & RNIB Scotland with regard to Edinburgh’s Spaces for People scheme, and the challenges/opportunities it presents for people with sight problems. I learnt a few lessons, not least from this video which they shared.
It is pretty clear that they feel they (and people with visual impairments) have been excluded to some extent from the consultation process. In particular, they highlighted that the Common Place tool is visually driven, and no alternative was provided for people with sight loss- this is shameful stuff.
We also shared concerns about the balance between support for cycling and walking, with things like floating bus stops putting vulnerable pedestrians at a real disadvantage. Their key requests include:
- Mobility and accessibility needs of disabled people are fully considered in the planning and delivery of such measures.
- It is essential to consider the impacts of any temporary measures on disabled people, including people who have difficulty walking, wheelchair users, people with cognitive impairments, dementia, autism, etc. and people with sensory impairments. This is a legal requirement under the provisions of the 2010 Equality Act.
- Many disabled people have found the pandemic extremely stressful. Changes to usual travel patterns, to public transport services, parking arrangements, etc. can add to anxiety. Spaces for People initiatives should therefore be seen in this context – continual changes should therefore be avoided where possible, and should be effectively communicated to the public including disabled people.
- Many disabled people depend on cars (both to drive and as a passenger) and taxis. Road changes shouldn’t prevent disabled people from being able to stop near their destination. This is not only about ‘disabled parking bays’ but also considering if measures may reduce vehicle access to kerbs and the flexibility for blue badge holdersto park on single or double yellow lines.
- Safe space for pedestrians should be separate from cyclists as far as possible. Any shared-use paths or areas must be designed so that cyclists understand the need to give way to pedestrians and maintain a reasonable distance.
Their guidance to Councils is here: