Friday, August 23, 2013
Plans for a zebra crossing on a busy Norwich road have been branded outdated and unfair to blind people by Norfolk’s leading charity for the visually impaired.
The Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind says zebra crossings are better left on the cover of Beatles albums and are not safe for people with sight problems.
Their comments come as Norwich City Council consults over a proposal to install a zebra crossing in Hall Road, which officers said would give pedestrians “safer access to local shops”.
The charity, based in Magpie Road, has objected to the proposal, saying better technology, which makes life easier for blind people, is available.
The charity’s chief executive Max Marriner said: “If the council believes a crossing is needed on Hall Road, it should be an electronic “Green Man” pelican crossing, which has tactile and audible aids to help blind people.”
In a reference to the cover of the album Abbey Road, he said: “Zebra crossings in this day and age are a throw back and best left to the covers of Beatles albums.
“To recognise the needs of all pedestrians, City Hall should be using road safety solutions that are acceptable to all members of the community, not just sighted people.
“Old fashioned zebra crossings may be a cheaper alternative, but they disenfranchise a section of the Norwich community we are here to champion.”
Mr Marriner said modern pelican crossings include a small cone fitted underneath the push button box, which rotated when it was safe for blind people to cross and said the charity was disappointed it had not been consulted.
A city council spokesman said Department for Transport criteria had been applied. He said: “Signalled crossings are only justified on busy or high-speed roads with large numbers of pedestrians wanting to cross. So given the numbers of pedestrians and vehicles, the speed of traffic, and the fact there was no room for a refuge, a zebra was considered the most appropriate option.
“This was also in keeping with the three existing zebra crossings in Hall Road. In terms of consultation, we liaised with the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People and the Norwich Access Group.
As reported, the joint city and county highways agency committee is considering replacing existing pelican crossings with cheaper zebra crossings as and when they come up for renewal.
The city council spokesman said the NNAB would be consulted on every time it is proposed to change one of those crossings.