A NEW cycle route nearing completion in Leamington has been slammed as highly dangerous for blind pedestrians and bus users.
Resident and National Federation of the Blind UK member Sarah Gayton is calling for works on the cycle route on the Kenilworth Road to cease immediately amid discriminatory concerns.
She told the Observer that the NFBUK had raised serious objections about the design of the cycle route with Warwickshire County Council during the public consultation process last year but their bleak assessment had been ignored.
Ms Gayton, NFBUK’s street access campaign coordinator, explained that the scheme required serious modification to prevent it causing significant discrimination against blind and visually impaired pedestrians and bus passengers.
One of their chief concerns was the fact bus users would have to get on and off the bus straight into a shared footway and cycle lane.
Ms Gayton said this would be highly dangerous for blind and visually impaired bus users and should not have been considered as part of the design.
She continued: “The majority of cyclists do not stop to let bus passengers get on and off a bus, and this particular design has proved very dangerous in Denmark, where research in 2007 revealed that shared use bus stops present a particular hazard for all pedestrians. Their introduction led to an increase in collisions between cyclists and passengers from five to 73.
“Expecting a blind and visually impaired person to keep themselves safe while accessing public transport using these designs is not possible. Access to and from the bus should be direct from the pavement.”
Other concerns raised by the NFBUK included a cycle lane cutting through a green man pedestrian crossing.
The group additionally raised the issue that cycle lanes are now also being used by e-bikes and e-scooters.
Ms Gayton said: “Having cyclists and people using e-micromobility riding directly at you is not safe, it is frightening as you cannot hear or see them, they can hit you or your mobility aid, be it a white cane or a guide dog.”
Ms Gayton added it was imperative that construction came to a halt on the works to prevent any further discrimination being built into the cycle route and to minimise the amount of remedial work that would have to be undertaken.
The Kenilworth Road Cycle Route is part of the £4.7million K2L project to provide a 5km walking and cycling route connecting Leamington and Kenilworth.
A WCC spokesperson said the design of the cycle route had been constrained by the overall width of the highway and it had been necessary to have a space shared by pedestrians and cyclists.
The spokesperson added there would be a further road safety audit once the construction was completed and they would then consider any required further steps.