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Will changes to junction endanger blind and partially sighted people?
03 Jul 2013 22:27 #79

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

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Contractors are currently installing tactile pavement sections at the Green Lanes/Hedge Lane/Bourne Hill junction. The purpose of tactile pavements is, of course, to make it safer for blind and partially sighted people to cross the road by helping them find the best places to do so. However, I fear that installing them at this particular junction will actually increase the risk to blind and partially sighted people. This is because there are no pedestrian lights at this very busy and dangerous junction but the tactile pavements will give the erroneous impression that it is a safe place to cross.

I realise that there are plenty of completely uncontrolled crossings that are indicated by tactile pavements, such as those between the shopping parades further south in Green Lanes, but at least there car drivers have a good view of anyone crossing the road and most traffic is going fairly slowly and would have time to react to seeing a person with a white stick crossing. But the Hedge Lane crossroads is in my view particularly dangerous for any pedestrians, however good their eyesight, because drivers often go across it at speed, there is a left turn with poor visibility (left out of Hedge Lane), high speed red light running is endemic and cars frequently perform right turns during the brief interval (less than 20 seconds) when all lights are red.

A few years ago a campaign to install pedestrian lights was rejected on the grounds that they would have caused unacceptable delays to road traffic. The moral appears to be that it is worth risking pedestrian injuries and deaths for the sake of saving drivers a few minutes. I find that attitude completely unacceptable.

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Will changes to junction endanger blind and partially sighted people?
07 Jul 2013 23:51 #81

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I’m pretty sure there is no need to worry about whether the current installation of tactile paving – presumably in the usual blister format – at the junction of Green Lanes, Bourne Hill and Hedge will prove dangerous for blind and partially sighted people.

Here’s a quote from guidance issued by the Department for Transport: “The purpose of the blister surface is to provide a warning to visually impaired people who would otherwise, in the absence of a kerb upstand <25mm high, find it difficult to differentiate between where the footway ends and the carriageway begins. The surface is therefore an essential safety feature for this group of road users at pedestrian crossing points, where the footway is flush with the carriageway to enable wheelchair users to cross unimpeded.” To me this means that blisters are warnings not an indication of a safe crossing place.

Although I’m an avid supporter of pedestrian/cyclist’s right to equal priority on all residential streets and most through roads, I’m not sure that either the council or Transport for London (TfL) can be blamed for the lack of a pedestrian phase in the traffic lights at this junction – back in 2002 (or perhaps a little earlier) TfL found on investigation that even a tiny further restriction would cause traffic to seize up completely at peak times. Clearly what’s necessary is a much more fundamental approach to getting people out of their cars and onto either their feet, their bike or public transport.

All this is of course bound up with overall travel policies in Enfield and London as a whole. Both Enfield Council and the London Mayor have an avowed aim of increasing biking and pay lip-service to safer streets, but neither seem prepared to do what is actually necessary: widespread 20mph speed limits, streets tailored fairly to pedestrians and cyclists as well as cars, and an aim to ensure that the three chief categories of road user have an equal right to complete their journey conveniently and on time.

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