Claims new cycle lanes discriminate against disabled people by reducing pavement space and creating trip hazards, reports James Cracknell
Campaigners against the ‘Mini Holland’ cycling programme have handed a petition to 10 Downing Street claiming new cycle lanes in Enfield discriminate against disabled people.
The five-page petition, addressed directly to Prime Minister Theresa May, states that “elderly, disabled and blind people have been dealt a major injustice based on negligent road planning”.
Among 21 demands, the petition calls on the government to force local authorities such as Enfield Council that have introduced shared space arrangements, reduced pavement widths, and ‘orca’ road segregations, to conduct an “urgent accessibility audit and remedial works to ensure safe access for all”.
It comes after a spate of reported accidents involving the ‘orca’ road humps – so-called because of their resemblance to killer whales – installed as part of the A105 cycle scheme. They are intended to help segregate new cycle lanes from the main carriageway, but have been described as “trip hazards” because of the way they present obstacles to pedestrians crossing the road.
In one incident in Green Lanes a mum tripped over an ‘orca’ and fractured her knee cap – forcing her to spend Christmas on crutches. Several other incidents were cited in the petition submitted to the prime minister in January. Camden Council removed similar ‘orca’ road segregations over safety fears in 2017.
The Mini Holland petition lists 20 “supporting organisations” including several other local residents’ associations across Enfield borough, plus disability campaign groups such as Transport for All and the National Federation of the Blind.
Dr Linda Miller, on behalf of Enfield Town Residents’ Association, wrote: “We understand the desire to improve safety for cyclists, but this cannot and must not be at the cost of creating risks and decreasing access for vulnerable pedestrians and argue that this situation would never have been allowed to arise had a competent Equality Impact Assessment been conducted and its recommendations adhered to.”
Explaining the motivation behind the petition, Dr Miller said: “We are calling on the government to strengthen the law to prevent discriminatory schemes being introduced in the first place, not expect people to challenge the scheme once it’s in place. We want all schemes to be properly assessed in future – and importantly, changed, where they are found to create problems for older, disabled and blind people.”
The A105 cycle scheme – part of the ongoing £30million Mini Holland programme supported by the Mayor of London – was completed last year. However, the council is now conducting a public consultation on the removal of “experimental traffic orders” so that the cycle lanes can be made permanent.
A council spokesperson said: “The orcas are a well-established feature included within the London Cycle Design Standards that are used in schemes across London. Indeed, keen to learn from experience elsewhere, the Enfield scheme was designed so as to ensure that they are not used in areas where there is particularly high footfall, nor are they present at scheduled crossing areas.
“Ensuring cycle lanes are protected from motor vehicles straying into the cycle lanes will help us to continue increasing the number of people, young and old, who feel cycling is a safe choice to get around the borough. Light segregation is a fundamental part of securing cyclists’ safety and there are therefore no current plans to remove the orcas.
“Nonetheless, we continue to monitor the placement of orcas along with other changes that have been brought about by this large-scale infrastructure project.
“There are various ways in which people can raise issues if they believe something specific should be considered. Our incident-reporting form is one method. This helps us identify any specific locations that may need to be reviewed and helps identify any wider trends.
“Currently, there is also an opportunity for the community to comment on the experimental elements of the Green Lanes project, which include aspects like waiting and loading restrictions, and the number and positioning of disabled bays and loading bays.”
To take part in the council’s ongoing consultation on the experimental traffic orders in place along the A105 Green Lanes: