Thursday, 14 May 2015

Infrastructure & Equality Musings

One of my hats is some rudimentary voluntary stuff for Cyclenation (a federation of cycling groups who offer support and a voice at national level for smaller groups).  I posted a link that I thought might have been of interest to cycle user groups, to the governments Cycle Proofing Working Group. which sparked up a discussion with a lady who felt the document is too weak with its language and who commented that:
"There is insufficient consciousness in cycling community of equality act 2010, the public sector equality and its potential power. All the more important post election. Use it or lose it."

Certainly accessibility issues to cycling infrastructure are commented on at the local authority user group that I attend, but this comment did really make me think. Looking at the Act, when it comes to the transport section, cycling doesn't even get a mention here. This is now something that strikes me as obviously missing following my pregnancy where I struggled to walk, but was perfectly fine cycling, making me realise that bicycles really area a great way to improve the independence of certain groups that the Act serves, and that's not beginning to think about adaptive cycles. 

There is a section of the Act about Advancement of Equality & the duties of local authorities, which made me rethink the 'potential power' mentioned. 

As an able bodied person, I don't really give much consideration to accessibility of cycle infrastructure other than the times me & my husband have had to hoik a loaded tandem over barriers on cycle routes, or that wonderful terrifyingly steep long staircase on the Trans-Pennine-Trail (which is a route that people tour on with loaded bikes) where I had to manhandle my panniers, then my bike down it, which was unsafe for me as a reasonably fit young adult. 

The musings have brought the Act to the forefront of my mind and hopefully now it will be something I will think about at cycle user group forums. I wonder how much consideration is given to it at road / cycle infrastructure design meetings and whether there is always representation from a range of user groups. 
Perhaps this is something cycle user groups should be asking at each meeting with local authorities etc. to bring it to the forefront of more people's thoughts.  Surely cycle infrastructure that is built on the 'power of the Equality Act' would be far superior to most of the infrastructure that heads our way at the moment.  

Although in Preston, the latest redesign of the main road through town won few praises from cyclists or people with disabilities following consultation. A compromised design to try to appease both groups ended up making it more dangerous for both. Perhaps had there been some longer consultation, the design could have worked better and satisfied everyone. But as I'm sure many people involved in cycle user groups will know, time limits and what is deemed as realistic can frequently be the key to authorities securing funding to complete any work at all. The government want to see a design & local authorities often present a design that they know that they can complete rather than anything that is bold and really challenges designs.


1 comment:

  1. This is interesting as I have noticed that recently many of the barriers along our local cycle routes have been removed or the previosly locked side gates have been opened. Apparently these barriers were originally there to prevent motorcylists, but the removal is to allow access for wheelchair users. But it doesn't seem to be a consistent approach on all routes. I will forward your link to our bike club. I see you use Memory Map too, I have the Adventurer 3500 and I'm very pleased with it.