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Make active travel more accessible

01 April, 2021

Detail of the Pave The Way report cover

• IN January Transport for All, a pan-impairment disability group, published an eye-opening report, called Pave The Way.

This was the culmination of six months’ research into the lived experience of low traffic neighbourhoods, LTNs, for people with disabilities, and into the barriers that they can face for active travel.

One of the repeated retorts in the LTN debate is that (although they block off more direct routes) the new road restrictions merely make journeys a little bit longer, the inference being that this is a small price to pay for environmental gain.

This is a false premise, on numerous counts, not least because many journeys are now significantly longer.

TfA’s report vividly reminds us that for some people with ability impairment, a longer journey can mean much more than just the act of sitting for longer in a vehicle.

It can also be about the strain of planning and undertaking a journey when public transport or active travel is less accessible or inaccessible.

It can be about impairment exacerbation, and exhaustion.

It can be about barriers to lifeline visits from carers or from family and friends, and barriers to the taxi services that some people with disabilities routinely rely on.

It can be about additional cost. And it can also be about how journeys that become overwhelming can lead to isolation.

It is therefore concerning that 77 per cent of the participants in TfA’s study are experiencing longer journeys.

The report concludes that for active travel to be more accessible, fundamental upgrades are needed, both to the streetspace infrastructure and to public transport.

There is an unacceptable failure in building barriers to car travel when alternative methods of travel are not sufficiently accessible.

The report suggests that to improve matters some people with disabilities should be allowed to drive through LTN camera filters, including when being driven. This would shorten their journeys and go some way towards addressing some of the difficulties.

It seems to me ANPR dispensation should also include the elderly, some of whom will find longer journeys via busier boundary roads daunting.

When TfA’s report was first published, a Highbury councillor enthusiastically tweeted that this research was “absolutely outstanding”, and that “we all need to listen to the opinions of disabled people”.

Despite this ringing endorsement there is no sign yet from Islington Council that it will activate this discrete and considerate ANPR dispensation.

This needs to be put right. Right now.

Within Highbury West LTN


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