Cllr Nick Paget-Brown
What’s Wrong With Exhibition Rd ?
A party of blind and partially sighted from the London Branch of the National Federation of the Blind visited Exhibition Rd on June 22nd 2012 to determine if they could navigate safely along and across the road. Some members of the West London Residents Association attended as helpers. David Cowdrey Campaigns Manager for Guide Dogs for the Blind was also present.
Exhibition Rd between Cromwell Rd and Prince Consort Rd.
Provided a blind or partially sighted person kept to the east and west pavements ie between the wall and ribbed delineator navigating was relatively straightforward.
The transition zone with its high level of clutter was a no-go area.
Several attempts were made to cross the road from the east pavement to the west by a blind person on their own. None were successful as the traffic would not stop.
It was difficult even when a blind person was escorted as the traffic was reluctant to allow this.
No attempts were made to cross the road from the west pavement. This would have meant trying to negotiate through the transition zone on to the road where there is no delineator marking where the transition zone ends and the 8M road begins. An impossible task for the blind.
We have pointed out before that the lack of a visible continuous delineator marking the west side of the 8M road causes difficulties for all road users including drivers.
The present situation is that the blind and partially sighted are effectively restricted to the east and west pavements with no safe means of crossing the road.
One or two light controlled crossings are required in this section to give them proper access which was one of the slogans before the road was rebuilt ie Access for All. This has yet to be realised.
Whilst the blind and partially sighted comprise some 2M another 8M people have a disability which requires them to have access to a controlled crossing to safely cross a road.
Additionally research shows that the elderly much prefer a controlled crossing as a means to safely cross the road.
Exhibition Rd between Cromwell Rd and Thurlow Place
This short section posed no real problems. It is noted that painted road markings are on this section but on no other.
Exhibition Rd between Thurlow Place and Thurlow Street
This caused some problems as tables and chairs are in the middle of the road and on leaving the shelter of the side pavements it is easy for the blind to get lost.
This still appears to be a 30mph zone which is too high a speed when people are walking in the road encouraged by the tables and chairs. Safer to pedestrianise the area here and the section of Thurlow St leading to S Kensington Station.
In Summary For the Blind and others install one or two light controlled crossings in the main part of Exhibition Rd
Properly delineate the west side of the 8M roadway, preferably with continuous studs and road paint . The east side of the road should also be preferably painted to help all road users.
Pedestrianise the road south of Thurlow Place and to S Kensington Station.
Adding the elderly to the 10M who require a controlled crossing ,the lack of such a crossing is a severe disadvantage to about one third of the population.
Coaches carrying children for the Science Museum often park on the east side of the roadway. The children are then escorted across the road. A controlled crossing would make this task easier.
There appears to be no room for coaches to discharge their passengers in the transition zone near the museum which I thought was one of the reasons for its existence.
A café owner at the southern end of Exhibition Rd below Thurlow Place said that they had continuing problems with vehicles performing fast three point turns outside their café often endangering patrons sitting at their pavement tables.
A serious accident had occurred recently on Exhibition Rd by Prince Consort Rd between a cyclist and a motorcyclist.
It was anecdotally reported that the cross hatched pattern of Exhibition Rd is causing problems for some drivers in gauging their speed.
As Guide Dogs have pointed out before the cross hatching also causes problems for some partially sighted as they tend to follow a light colored diagonal strip to cross the road rather than go straight across.
Below is the leaflet produced by NFBUK for the visit
WHAT’S WRONG WITH EXHIBITION ROAD?
NFBUK supports the interests of blind and partially sighted people. The layout of streets and provision of safe crossings are important to us and, for similar reasons, are also important to many other pedestrians. We ask: “is Exhibition Road reasonably meeting everyone’s needs?”
Exhibition Road has a transition zone where cars may park, trees can grow and, at the southern end, café tables may safely be laid out. People may walk there but take care not to stray into the traffic – you have to take great care and watch out for the cars and buses".
Streets For People Too?
Exhibition Road has pavements exclusively for people that should be free of clutter. Look out for a public phone box here, a tree or two there, and some rows of café tables.
Cross Anywhere Along Exhibition Road?
If you are elderly or for any reason a slow or cautious walker, you may not find it easy to step across this road. The traffic may be slow but would you, as a driver, want to stop? Exhibition Road needs at least two press-button crossings so that pedestrians with a pram or a stick or a guide dog can know when to cross in safety. Crossings are essential for independent blind people – otherwise, Exhibition Road is a pedestrian barrier between two pavements!
Produced by London Branch of NFBUK, June 2012 (Tel: 020 7275 7650)
Gordon Taylor PhD BSc CEng MICE MIMechE MIET
West London Residents Association