Transport planners tend to be well versed in the need to provide the more obvious forms of accessible transport such as:
- Blue badge parking spaces.
- Lifts and other accessibility measures at airports, railway stations and other transport interchanges.
- Dropped kerbs, audible crossings, dimpled paving and refuges in the pedestrian environment.
However, there is a far greater challenge when it comes to the provision of accessible transport, which will sooner or later be tested, either in the courts, or through a sample project with a local authority. Despite the measures above, which are designed to improve facilities for less able pedestrians, the general street environment in the UK remains deeply hostile for vulnerable road users, and it is particularly so for vulnerable cyclists.
The Equality Act 2010 requires transport schemes to be developed in a way which does not disadvantage any user with “protected characteristics”, and these characteristics include age and gender as well is disability. For far too long now, councils have been pursuing policies for cycling, which require cyclists to mix with heavy motorised traffic in a way which is only suitable for more confident users. This approach, known as vehicular cycling, completely fails the equality act on the following grounds:
- Age – mixing vulnerable cyclists with buses, HGVs and other heavy motor traffic is completely unsuitable for both younger and older users.
- Disability – mixing with traffic is not suitable for users with disabilities, including users with mental health problems.
- Gender – at present, 75% of British adults cyclists are male, a huge gender imbalance which is entirely down to the state of our roads.
There are now numerous European cities which have invested in quality cycling infrastructure, and which are now achieving cycling rates of 15% above. The cities are not just in well documented countries such as the Netherlands or Denmark (where cycling rates are typically close to 30%), but also in cities as diverse as Zurich in Switzerland, Stavanger in Norway and Oulu in Finland.
I can work with developers to ensure that any transport planning projects are fully compliant with both the letter and spirit of the equality act. For further details, please use the contact form on the right.