SHARED SURFACES; THE DANGER OF NAVIGATION

In a change to the advertised blog article, I’m doing a little swapping around in regards to subject matter. Holidays and my recent one inparticular will follow, but I want to briefly get back onto the issue of pavement clutter, shared surfaces and the general annoyances of getting around. A few weeks ago, I talked about the campaigns that were being run by both the RNIB and Guide dogs in relation to these issues, but what stands at the base of these are the experiences of us who try to navigate these environments on a regular and not so regular basis.

Shared surfaces is one particular issue that has attracted a great deal of debate and controversy over the years. These are usually inner city/town streets, that have done away with traditional pavements and marked pedestrian/vehicle areas to create one shared zone for all. On the whole, these tend to be commercial areas, where access to businesses/retailers is considered to be benefitial to all; wether in a car or on foot.

Now many of these areas will have timed shared access such as early mornings and late afternoons for vehicles, but they do cause problems; an issue that many have vastly under estimated or indeed ignored.

I travel through a shared vehicle/pedestrian area each day of the week to get to work. |Its a street with many shops either side, but one that can be hazzardess at the best of times. Even early in the morning, it is possible to get many people down there, a couple of buskers and associated main street noises. Vehicles do use it to deliver to premises and others treat it as a cut through from oen side of town to the other. It can therefore be a nightmare to navigate as the noises of vehicles can be hidden by other audible distractions and therefore it is a complete hazzard to even try and walk up and down with a cane of guide dog.

Although time restrictions are placed, the danger is still there for many pedestrians with a visual impairment and potentially can be a no go area. It is just so sad that many authorities have buried their heads in the sand to virtually ignore and overide the importance of pedestrian safety and ease of mobility. True, they may aregue that drivers will be limited by taking the shared surface areas away, but safety must be a prime mover above any intention of oepning up all areas to the dangers of traffic.

Coupled with this, goodness nows what the effect will be when more and more electric vehicles hit our streets. Lets hope they’re never put in a position to hit us pedestrians too.

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