Blind charity slams new Enfield Town cycle lane designs

National Federation of the Blind UK says council plans are ‘not fit for purpose’, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The council's proposals for a cycle lane with a bus 'bypass' in Cecil Road, Enfield Town (credit Enfield Council)
The council’s proposals for a cycle lane with a bus ‘bypass’ in Cecil Road, Enfield Town (credit Enfield Council)

Plans for new cycle lanes as part of a revamp of Enfield Town have been described by a national charity as “not safe” for blind and visually impared people.

The National Federation of the Blind UK (NFBUK) slammed the current proposals as “not fit for purpose” and said they need to be “urgently amended” to take into account the needs of blind, visually impaired and other vulnerable road users.

Enfield Council is holding a public consultation on the plans to provide several new public spaces and cycle lanes, more and wider pedestrian crossings, fewer parking spaces and narrower roads. The council says it wants to create “a healthy town centre that encourages more people to visit and enjoy their time in Enfield Town”.

A new plaza with seating and planting areas is set to be created outside Enfield Town Station, while Market Square would be modernised and Library Green reconfigured to make these existing public spaces more accessible. A brand new public space – dubbed ‘Saddler’s Mill Square’ – would also be created at the junction of Church Street and Little Park Gardens.

But Sarah Gayton, street access campaign co-ordinator at NFBUK, has raised multiple concerns over the wider scheme’s impact. She described the routing of cycling lanes on pavements behind pedestrian crossings at the junction between Cecil Road and Church Street close to Trinity Church, and at the Willow Road junction, as “not welcomed”, adding: “It is essential these cycle lanes do not plough through the pavement and bypass the pedestrian crossing phase”.

Sarah also criticised proposed bus stop ‘bypasses’ which involve routing cycle lanes between bus stops and are being proposed in Cecil Road, near the junction with London Road and Genotin Road.

She said: “These designs are not safe or accessible for blind and visually impaired pedestrians or bus users. Zebra crossings on cycle lanes simply do not work, as many cyclists do not stop.

“There are also many e-bikes and e-scooters, many of which travel at frightening speeds which are now using cycle lanes after lockdown, making them an even more hostile and dangerous for bus passengers, who have to cross them to use or leave the bus. The design is simply not fit for purpose and should not be used in the street redesign.

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“Blind and visually impaired people in London are being negatively affected by these designs, with bus routes once accessible to them now not used due to the introduction of bus stop bypasses. 

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“It is essential that all proposed cycle lanes are redesigned to be located off the pavement with at least a 60-millimetre kerb separating them from the pavement, and for cycle lanes to be incorporated into all pedestrian crossings.”

Plans for a two-way cycle lane which starts and ends on a shared space behind Enfield Town Library in Cecil Road are also “not safe” and would bring cyclists and pedestrians into “direct conflict”, Sarah claims. She said: “The designers should know better than to use this unsafe design and it should be removed from the plan.”

Sarah said many of the details of the proposed redesign were “not clear” from the online plan, but she welcomed proposals to upgrade some pedestrian crossings. She said the charity had requested more detail from the council on several aspects of the plans but had yet to receive it.

Responding to the concerns raised by the charity, a council spokesperson said: “We are currently consulting on the plans for Enfield Town and we will take all the comments and feedback into account before finalising the design.

“We are seeking to create town centres that are accessible and attractive destinations for as many people as possible. We have previously engaged with the National Federation of the Blind and we welcome the opportunity to continue the discussion around the latest designs. We are in direct contact with them and are sending them large-scale plans.”

A consultation on the council proposals closes on 25th September. There will be another chance for residents to have their say next year when formal plans are due to be submitted for approval. If they go through, work on installation could begin in 2024.

For more information on the current Enfield Town consultation and to have your say:

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