A campaign by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association against the development of ‘shared streets’ will hold a high profile photocall at City Hall this Wednesday (17th June).
The campaign is seeking to persuade London Mayor Boris Johnson to stop Kensington’s Exhibition Road, home to The Science Museum, The Natural History Museum, and The Victoria and Albert Museum, being converted to shared use.
Many new developments and regeneration schemes are based around the concept of ‘shared space’, this often means setting the pavement and road surface at the same level, removing the traditional kerb and requiring vehicles and pedestrians to share the same surface.
Campaigners say this poses a danger to visually impaired pedestrians as long cane users and guide dogs are trained to use the kerb as a key navigation aid.
The Exhibition Road scheme will see the whole of the road converted to a single surface and the removal of all kerbs and road barriers.
Kensington and Chelsea council say the scheme will allow for the introduction of ‘tactile guidance paving’ to aid those who are blind or visually impaired to navigate the area.
The association are protesting at City Hall as more than half (£13.2m) of the scheme’s £25m cost is being provided by the Mayor and Transport for London.
Tom Pey, guide dog owner and Guide Dogs’ Director of External Affairs, said: “We urge Boris Johnson to withdraw his funding for this dangerous street as our calls for a kerb and a safe Exhibition Road will not go away.”
“Nearly 20 other national disability organisations representing blind and partially sighted people, and people with other disabilities, and over 140 MPs are supporting our call for a halt to shared surface street designs.”