Friday, 9 March 2012

H&F pedestrian crossings "unsafe for blind"

The Royal National Institute for the Blind has been in touch with me to warn that there are four pedestrian crossings in our borough that lack any measures, such as audible sounds or tactile indicators, which make them dangerous for blind or partially sighted people to use.

The crossings in H&F were revealed as part of a London wide question to Boris Johnson by LibDem Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, which revealed 347 such crossings across the capital. Westminster is the worst offender with 45 while Hackney accounts for 18 and Southwark has a total of 17. Only Kingston Upon Thames and Hillingdon are not represented on the list. 

The figures also show that there are 113 crossings which fail national safety standards by not providing the minimum amount of time for people to safely cross the road. 

One blind person, Mohammed Mohsan, said this about the crossings: 
"Many people don't realise how frightening it can be to try and cross the road without the help of rotating cones or audible sounds, you can end up waiting for ages trying to guess when the cars might have stopped.  
"I have had some bad experiences crossing busy roads in London and it would really boost my confidence if I could make it safely and easily to the other side without my heart pounding in fear." 
Hugh Huddy, RNIB Campaigns Officer, said: 
"If the green man sign on a crossing is broken, then it is marked as out of order. Bleeps and tactile cones are the way that blind and partially sighted people judge that it is safe to cross, so without them the crossing is effectively out of order to anyone with a sight problem. 
"Failing to install and maintain accessible road crossings cannot be justified. Every crossing without bleeps or tactile cones is unsafe for the UK's two million with sight loss."
Difficult to disagree. The crossings that are dangerous for blind people in H&F are:
  • L.B. Hammersmith & Fulham A4 TALGARTH ROAD - GLIDDON ROAD 
  • L.B. Hammersmith & Fulham A308 NEW KINGS ROAD - BAGLEY'S LANE‪
1200 UPDATE - With full credit to the Council they have responded to this article within a few hours. An official within the transport department tells me that they have looked at converting the crossings to be puffin crossings but that this in itself wouldn't do anything other than to give a bit more time to the blind person. And in any case the locations above are signallised so they can't be converted.

He tells me that they are "investigating the issues" and want to see TfL's plans to see if they can't be speeded up - junctions are usually updated when TfL come to renovate them.

I'm glad they're looking into this and I think they deserve real credit for being open about it - hopefully this article (and I'll be returning to the issue having spoken to local organisations representing the blind and visually impaired) will speed things up.

    1 comment:

    1. All pedestrian crossings should have rotating cone installed under the push button unit. In case of audio signal, this can in some cases be omitted, mainly due to safety reasons, e.g. in case another crossing is close by, when the sound at the other crossing might misguide pedestrians waiting at first one.