Lobby Group for the Blind Says Cycleway 9 is Not Safe

Claim design of bus islands make them inaccessible for visually impaired

Charity says bus islands on Cycleway 9 compromise the human rights of the blind
Charity says bus islands on Cycleway 9 compromise the human rights of the blind

The National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK) has written to Hounslow Council saying they do not believe that proposed modifications to the design of Temporary Cycleway 9 on Chiswick High Road deal with its safety concerns.

The council recently held a consultation focusing on people with ‘protected characteristics’ including the disabled and the elderly and it says that the results of this have been incorporated into the revised designs for the Cycleway. Roads and pavements have already been marked out for the amendments and it is understood that an Experimental Traffic Order to allow work to commence will be published shortly.

The NFBUK is a charity based in West Yorkshire that represents the interests of partially sighted people across the country. The organisation raised concerns about bus stop bypasses in general during the COP26 Climate Change conference. Locally elected councillors and COP26 delegates were given the chance to do a walk, wheel and talk down Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow to see the impact of the introduction of cycle lanes that separate the bus stop from the main pavement. Sandy Taylor, the NFBUK Scottish Chair, showed the delegates bus stops he cannot access due to the location of the cycle lane.

Mr Taylor said afterwards, “These are suicide crossings, there is no way I am going to play Russian Roulette with moving cyclists just to get on a bus. Do you honestly think this design has considered the safety and accessibility of blind people like myself, let alone other disabled and vulnerable pedestrians. They were never safe and with the rapid transition to people using e-bikes it makes them even more unfit for purpose. It is imperative this design is halted and existing schemes go under remedial works to ensure bus passengers get direct access to and from the bus from the pavement. Blind people are not prepared to accept any further discrimination by these designs, it is against our Human Rights and we demand designs to allow safe access to public transport”.

Sandy Taylor, NFBUK Chair Scotland, holding his white cane standing in a bus shelter on Sauchiehall Street
Sandy Taylor, NFBUK Chair Scotland standing in a bus shelter on Sauchiehall Street

In the report that was prepared by Hounslow Council officers it was stated that the bus island designs used on the cycleway were compliant with current guidelines.

Andrew Hodgson, President of NFBUK said, “Hounslow Council have not addressed safety and accessibility concerns for people like me, people with no sight. If Councillor Hanif Khan, the Cabinet Member for Transport, thinks it is acceptable for blind, visually impaired, disabled and vulnerable bus passengers to have to step out into a cycle lane to get to and from the bus stop, when it is well known that the majority of cyclists do not stop for pedestrians, he can think again. We need safe access at bus stops, and this means direct access from the pavement on and off the bus. These changes simply do not go far enough. This is not safe, sustainable or equitable active travel for all. It is not an inclusive solution for all to meet the Council’s environmental ambitions, you simply cannot have sustainability without accessibility, a key theme which came out very strongly at the recent COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. The Council have to go back to the drawing board and ensure our accessibility needs are met, this is simply not good enough”.

The impact bus stops and cycle infrastructure has on blind people was recently covered by the BBC Intouch program, which found that some independent blind bus users were now avoiding using bus stops due to the position of the cycle lanes.

The NFBUK has shared videos on social media which they say show why they feel the use of bus islands to facilitate cycleways is unacceptable.


Councillor Hanif Khan, Hounslow Council Cabinet Member for Transport, said, “The safety of people with visual impairments and other disabilities continues to be a vital consideration in our implementation of Transport for London’s (TfL) temporary Cycleway 9, particularly with regard to access to public transport. Hounslow recently carried out additional and detailed consultation looking at the equalities impacts on everyone with additional needs in the community. As a result of this consultation design changes to the scheme are now being implemented to the trial scheme which will continue to be monitored.”

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November 25, 2021