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Spotlight is put on shared space

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: October 27, 2013

The former Leek roundabout

The former Leek roundabout

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A FILM on the potential dangers posed by ‘shared space’ road layouts to the blind and partially sighted, which was inspired by road changes in Leek, is to be shown to a worldwide audience in the House of Lords.

Leek baker Sarah Gayton has visited towns and cities across the country which have adopted a shared space scheme.

They are similar to Leek’s, which is sited in front of the Nicholson War Memorial following the removal of the town’s floral roundabout, pictured.

The idea is that cars and pedestrians ‘share’ the space available.

During her visits she has interviewed blind and partially sighted people, along with business owner in the areas.

The full interview and recordings are now been put together and will be presented to ministers and overseas representatives at the United Nations International Day for People with Disability at a room in the House of Lords, on December 3.

Ms Gayton said: “I have travelled across the country, including Warwick, Coventry, Southend on Sea, Lewis, London and Leek, filming and interviewing people. The feeling is the same; that the shared space areas have become no-go areas for the blind and partially sighted. Shop owners have told us that disabled people can’t cross the road as guide dogs refuse to go along.

“The film, which is entitled A Journey Across Britain, shows that councils are ignoring blind people “I started this campaign many months ago after a comment by a council officer during the Leek controversy.

“He stated that three new trees were more important than crossings.

How can they put people’s lives in danger? “A large room has been booked in the House of Lords, which has been sponsored by Lord Low.

“The film will show the reaction from traders and blind and partially sighted people across the country.

“Many have stated that councils do not listen, but in some areas such as Leeds where we have also been, they are now looking at changing the design.

“At the time of the road works in Leek we said this would have a major impact on the blind and partially sighted, but no-one listened.

“You cannot exclude one section of people out of a area of town, which this system is doing.” Rebecca Swift, West Midlands regional campaign officers for the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) said:”

"In shared spaces there has to be eye contact between the driver and pedestrian.

“This can’t happened with the blind and partially sighted. There are also a lack of accessible crossing points as blind and partially sighted could walk in front of vehicles.

“Kerbs are also taken away which means that people with long canes and guide dogs can’t recognise the road.

“Street furniture is taken out of shared spaces which could have been used by the blind as an indication where the road is.

“People’s views should be taken in account, but it seems consultation is an afterthought, which is leading to many no-go areas for the blind and partially sighted.”

US BUILDING ROUNDABOUTS

CCTV bid to catch thieves POLICE are hoping these CCTV images will help to identify the people who stole two bicycles from Leek town centre.

The two vintage-style bikes, which were stolen from the entrance of Getliffe's Yard, in Derby Street, had been used to advertise the 'Mollie's Maison' shop which is in the Victorian shopping arcade.

The bikes were stolen at around 2.15am on Sunday, September 15.

The suspects are described as two men in their early 20s. One wore a yellow and black checked lumberjack-style shirt and the other wore a dark hooded top.

They were with a woman in her early 20s with dark hair. She wore dark leggings and a light top.

Anyone with information on the bikes whereabouts, or those responsible for the theft, is asked to contact PC Richard Leake at Staffordshire Police on 101, quoting incident number 194 of September 17. Alternatively, they can contact independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

THE controversy surrounding the former Leek roundabout is still making national news.

The Daily Express has featured a full page article on roundabouts in Britain and in America, where a mass construction of traffic islands is taking place.

It said: "According the American Department of Transportation, replacing crossroads with roundabouts can result in a 90 per cent fall in the number of deaths, a 76 per cent reduction in injuries and a drop of 35 in crashes."

It adds: "Protesters camped out on the grass mound that stood next to the Nicholson War Memorial in Leek for no fewer than 18 days last year when Sainsbury's got permission to remove it as part of the construction of a new supermarket. The protesters withdrew only when all legal moves to contest Sainsbury's rights had been exhausted."

A duck pond traffic island near Sevenoaks in Kent has been named the Best in Britain by the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society

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