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"Like playing Russian roulette": Blind people raise concerns about 'floating' cycle lane bus stops

A campaigner joined the National Federation of the Blind and 162 other disability groups to hand a petition to Downing Street calling for the abolition of the bus stops separated from the pavement by cycle lanes

Whilst proper segregated cycling infrastructure is one of the most important ways to keep cyclists safe on the roads, a group of blind people and campaign groups have raised concerns about the danger posed by 'floating bus stops'.

Called 'floating' for their position between the road and cycle lane, away from the pavement, bus users have to cross the cycle route to access the bus stop, something blind and visually impaired people say can be problematic, with one campaigner from Glasgow suggesting it makes using the bus "like playing Russian roulette".

Sandy Taylor has joined with others from the National Federation of the Blind and 162 different disability groups to pass a petition to Downing Street calling for the abolition of that particular style of cycle lane, pictured below in photos taken by engineer Dave McCraw.

"For a blind person it is impossible to access buses," he told Glasgow Live. "I use a long cane to help. Some people have a guide dog and they are trained to stop at the kerb, but it can only recognise a kerb with a minimum height of 60mm.

"So what is happening is guide dogs are taking their owners across the cycle lane because they are not aware. Quite frankly a blind person, like myself, is not going to take a chance. It's like playing Russian roulette.

"How am I going to know when a cyclist is coming along?"

Explaining the reliance blind people have on public transport, Mr Taylor called the city's bus routes "absolutely vital" and hoped his campaigning would see bus stops moved back to the pavement.

"Buses are normally much more accessible than trains to take us to places we want to go to like shops. Public transport is extremely important to us and these cycle lanes are all over the country.

"I came up on the train on Tuesday night and a young lady sat next to me. We started a conversation, she said she was a student in Glasgow, she was a cyclist as well. She had no idea about the impact of the cycle lanes on us. There will be so many people who don't realise.

"People can see cyclists coming along, we can't. What we are asking for is that the bus pulls up next to the pavement kerb, where we can get on and off the bus safely.

"We don't have a cycle lane to cross. We want direct access to buses. Disabled people must not be put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people and clearly adjustments need to be made but they aren't.

"The emphasis is very much on cyclist access, I have nothing against that, but much of the infrastructure that is put in place has negative impact on not just blind or visually impaired people, but many other disabled and elderly people as well."

Floating bus stops are designed to keep cyclists safe by bypassing stops away from the traffic. A 2016 analysis by Sustrans looked at 28 hours of footage at a newly-installed floating bus stop in Cambridge and found that "all interactions" between road users at the infrastructure displayed "safe, normal behaviour".

Furthermore, 99 per cent of cyclists were involved in no interaction with pedestrians. Of the 42 interactions that did occur between pedestrians and cyclists, all were at peak times, and all scored one or two on a five-point hazard scale. No analysis was done on the interaction between blind or visually impaired people and cyclists.

Last year a London cyclist blamed the design of one floating bus stop for him being left-hooked by a taxi driver turning across the segregation's exit to a hotel.

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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