An Edinburgh campaign group has criticised the council for installing bus shelters which breach its own access standards.
Living Streets Edinburgh, which campaigns on behalf of pedestrians, has surveyed a host of the new bus shelters being installed by advertising firm JCDecaux on behalf of the council.
It has found that all over the city, including several in the Leith area, the firm is installing new bus shelters with little regard for pedestrian access.
The councils own guidelines say that a gap of 14000mm must be left so that people with walking aids, wheelchairs or buggies can negotiate them safely.
In July, the new bus shelter designs were criticised for failing in their primary purpose – to even provide shelter for bus users, and this week, installers were also criticised after 20 stops were left with seating so high that pensioners couldn’t reach the seats unassisted.
Living Streets Edinburgh Convenor, David Spaven, said: “We’ve found some shocking examples where contractors installing new shelters have seriously failed to meet the Council’s own standard that ‘an unobstructed width of at least 1400mm must be provided along any length of footway adjacent to a shelter’.
“This is highly inconvenient for people on foot and in wheelchairs, and flies in the face of the Council’s claim to be prioritizing the needs of pedestrians. The bus shelter programme is clearly flawed and we’ve called on Cllr Hinds to delay the implementation programme until CEC can be assured that implementation will be such as to (a) meet CEC’s minimum standards and (b) at the very least not make conditions worse for pedestrians at the bus stops.”
Cllr Hinds said in the Evening News that the city’s shelters had been designed “in accordance with national mobility guidelines, and allow for greater accessibility for wheelchair users than older shelters”.
And then explained that the council is to start taking a cut of the ad revenue from the new shelters. She explained: “Thanks to our contract with JCDecaux, the council will now also be able to benefit from advertising on shelters across the city, which will provide a new income stream for investment in services.
“Where possible, JCDecaux have installed shelters to adhere to the council’s Bus Friendly Design Guide, though in some narrower areas it is necessary to refer to national guidance, which requires a minimum of one metre passage space.
So, it would appear to be a fairly straight forwards arrangement. The council are to water down their own standards, in return for more cash.
As austerity bites and the council seeks to raise more money, it begs the question how much more will our public spaces be bent out of shape in return for revenue?