Finding Agreement

Over the past year, we have been working with a number of organisations and people to understand what we mean by active travel for all. This has meant a lot of listening, learning and discussion and has been a massive journey for those of us who have enjoyed good health and unimpeded mobility, to understand how the design of our streets and cities have prevented others from enjoying the same freedom of movement. 

Group at roadside
A group walk with Spinal Injury Scotland during the October workshop

In October last year we ran a workshop, Active Travel for Everyone, which brought together a mixed group of people including wheelchair users and others with a mobility impairment, cyclists (including some who use their bike as a mobility aid), blind and visually impaired people. This explored a variety of topics and ended with a session on which we agreed a number of statements. Only statements which were unanimously agreed are included here. Nobody needed to explain or justify their dissent if they didn’t agree, but they could offer an alternative wording, and in some cases it took two or three redrafts before everyone in the room was happy with the statements below.

Sandra Wilson, Chair of RNIB Scotland, addressing the workshop
Sandra Wilson, Chair of RNIB Scotland, addressing the workshop

These are not intended to be exhaustive or even fully representative, but they do represent an area of common ground on which we can build. 

Sustainable transport hierarchy - Walking and wheeling at the top, the private car at the bottom
The sustainable transport hierarchy 

We started with a general principle:

“We acknowledge that different groups of people will have different priorities based on different needs. We should not allow people to divide and rule us.”

The other 11 statements were more specific:

  1. Pavements need to be maintained, level, and even.
  2. We should design our streets and walkways to ensure that all people can move around safely.
  3. The cycle network should be accessible to all cycles with no narrowings less than 1.5 metres.
  4. We should allow fewer cars in urban centres.
  5. Motor vehicles should not be given priority in urban areas.
  6. Kerbs are important to allow blind and partially sighted people to safely navigate the streets.
  7. When we build new infrastructure, spaces where people cycle, walk and drive need to be safely delineated to prevent collisions.
  8. All cycleways and walkways must allow safe access for all to bus stops.
  9. Pavements should be free from clutter.
  10. We should actually implement the hierarchy of provision where those with the least propensity to cause harm are at the top and those with the most propensity to cause harm are at the bottom.
  11. Given the implementation of the agreed transport hierarchy, this should be reflected in resources for maintenance and upkeep.

We commend these statements not as a set of rules or guidelines, but as as touchstones against which any proposals could be measured before they are approved.

cracked pavements and bollards