Campaigners for people with sight loss will today call on Glasgow City Council to reconsider controversial plans to create “shared spaces” as part of the redevelopment of the city centre.
Councillors will discuss £7.2 million proposals to transform Sauchiehall Street into a shared space.
This form of thoroughfare means pavements are levelled so pedestrians, drivers and cyclists all share the same space. However, the proposal has been criticised by groups supporting people with sight loss and other disabilities.
Catriona Burness, campaigns manager with Royal National Institute for the Blind, Scotland, said: “While we welcome moves to upgrade Sauchiehall Street, we remain very concerned about the need for pedestrians to cross a two-lane cycle way to either get to a bus stop or cross the road.
“Blind and partially sighted people won’t feel safe crossing a busy cycleway, while cyclists won’t know a pedestrian stepping out in front of them can’t see them, putting them in danger, too.
“We want the council to either move the cycleway to the south side of the street, so that pedestrians aren’t forced to cross it to get to a bus, or ensure there is a more distinct separation between the cycleway and the footpath. We’d also like audio-crossing signals positioned along the street.
At today’s full council meeting, Councillor Cecilia O’Lone, who represents the city’s Calton ward in the east end, will table a motion which “recognises the rights of all Glaswegians to be able to walk in safety and confidence”. Ms O’Lone will argue shared spaces infringe this right.
“Economic development which leads to improvements in our street architecture should be consistent with the needs of all street-users, and not become an additional barrier for disabled people,” she said.
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “The Sauchiehall Street Avenue (SSA) will not comprise ‘shared space’ as part of its design. A ‘shared space’ is one which removes the hierarchy of road users. The SSA will instead rebalance the hierarchy, giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists first, then public transport, then other road vehicles. It is important to note that the SSA is being taken forward as a pilot scheme and will act as a proof of concept for the Avenues project, and as such will be subject to a monitoring and a review process.”