Half-mile trek for blind if traffic lights removed

Photo Emma Mitchell. 14.12.15'Traffic Lights at townhead, shared space.
Photo Emma Mitchell. 14.12.15'Traffic Lights at townhead, shared space.

Blind people face being forced to make a massive detour 
to access both sides of 
Cowgate under the new shared space scheme.

The removal of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings mean they will have to walk up to half a mile to safely cross 
the road to visit a town centre shop just a few yards away.

Sandy Taylor of East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired People’s Forum (EDVIF), who has been heading the campaign against the scheme, branded this 
“totally unreasonable” and “in breach of the Equality Act”.

Under East Dunbartonshire Council’s controversial new plans, the present controlled crossings will be removed from the stretchof the main road from William Patrick 
Library, in Kirkintilloch, as far as Nonna’s Kitchen.

The traffic lights and safety railings will also be removed from the junction at Catherine Street and Kerr Street.

Instead, a controlled crossing is planned to be installed at the 
Tesco loading bay on Kerr Street and another at 
the former Wheel Nut on Catherine Street. The existing pedestrian crossing at Nonna’s will remain, but it is still unclear if the three controlled crossings will be permanent or just temporary until the project beds in.

The council plans to install 16 uncontrolled “courtesy crossings” where, the council has said previously, pedestrians would “catch the eye” of motorists to cross the road.

Campaigners against the scheme, who handed over a 3,500-strong petition to the Scottish Parliament recently, fear this will result in 
acccidents.

The EDVIF pointed out that blind people cannot “catch the eye” of drivers.

Mr Taylor added: “Disabled people don’t seem to matter. If a blind person wants tovisit the post office and then cross Cowgate to, for instance, Greggs bakery on the other side, they won’t be able to do so safely.

“They will have to walk all the way down to the existing crossing at Nonna’s and then walk all the way back up 
Cowgate again.

“This is totally unreasonable. An alternative is not being offered by the council.”

He is objecting to the road construction changes under the Equality Act 2010.

He said: “We consider the arrangements currently proposed for pedestrians to cross Cowgate discriminate against blind and partially sighted people (and other disabled people) who are either unable to cross or face unreasonable difficulty in crossing.

“The council appears to have given little, if any, thought to their obligations under the Equality Act in this matter, in particular their duty to make reasonable adjustments.”

Thomas Glen, director of development and regeneration, said: “The courtesy crossings are designed to be used by people of all abilities - featuring strong tonal contrast, tactile materials and following existing pedestrian movements.

“It would be a decision for individuals as to whether they choose to use these courtesy crossings. They have been designed to remove the need foranyone to have to take the diversion described as there would be a courtesy crossing nearby.”