Minister: Shared space design has to be ‘inclusive’

Photo Emma Mitchell 31.10.16
Shared space, Kirkintilloch
Photo Emma Mitchell 31.10.16 Shared space, Kirkintilloch

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf is to contact East 
Dunbartonshire Council about safety and equality issues in relation to the shared space in Kirkintilloch town centre.

At a meeting of Holyrood’s Petitions Committee on Thursday, the Scottish Government minister said all local authorities should ensure the design of a shared space is “inclusive.”

A national campaign designed to encourage thousands of people to cycle for every day journeys launches today in Stirling. The Big Bike Revival, an award winning programme developed by Cycling UK, formerly CTC the national cycling charity, helps people in Scotland to bring their bikes back into use by providing bike health checks, sharing maintenance knowhow and giving people more confidence in the saddle.

Partnered by fifty community groups and bicycle recycling centres across the country, the project aims to reach 20,000 people to encourage them to get cycling again and to replace short car journeys with the bike.

Big Bike Revival events across Scotland include led rides, puncture repair workshops, basic bike maintenance, cycle health checks, cycle skills sessions and route planning, all of which are free to access. As well as this, local community clubs will be set up and supported to provide ongoing encouragement and opportunities for those new or returning to cycling.

The Scottish Government has a visi

A national campaign designed to encourage thousands of people to cycle for every day journeys launches today in Stirling. The Big Bike Revival, an award winning programme developed by Cycling UK, formerly CTC the national cycling charity, helps people in Scotland to bring their bikes back into use by providing bike health checks, sharing maintenance knowhow and giving people more confidence in the saddle. Partnered by fifty community groups and bicycle recycling centres across the country, the project aims to reach 20,000 people to encourage them to get cycling again and to replace short car journeys with the bike. Big Bike Revival events across Scotland include led rides, puncture repair workshops, basic bike maintenance, cycle health checks, cycle skills sessions and route planning, all of which are free to access. As well as this, local community clubs will be set up and supported to provide ongoing encouragement and opportunities for those new or returning to cycling. The Scottish Government has a visi

He added: “The needs of those with a disability must be considered, in particular people with a visual impairment.”

Mr Yousaf was invited to give evidence at the committee by Strathkelvin MSP Rona Mackay in relation to disabled campaigner Sandy Taylor’s 
petition for a moratorium on all shared spaces until safety and equality issues have been addressed.

Declaring an interest at the start of the meeting, Ms Mackay told Mr Yousaf she was backing the campaign against the shared space scheme in her constituency.

She said the opening of the “four-way non-controlled crossing” at Catherine Street junction at the end of November was “terrifying” her constituents, particularly the ones who were less able.

Ms Mackay told Mr Yousaf: “I know in this instance with this local authority that visually impaired groups and 
others were not consulted.”

She asked the minister if it was a contravention of people’s rights if they were not consulted and not listened to.

Mr Yousaf said: “If that was the case then it would be deeply worrying because all of the guidance – be it our own guidance, the guidance which was produced from a local 
authority’s perspective – talks about collaboration with 
local access panels and local disability groups.”

He added the Scottish Government’s “Designing Streets” policy was “predominantly aimed towards residential and lightly trafficked streets”.

Mr Yousaf told the committee he would “have a conversation with East Dunbartonshire Council and 
report back”.

Sandy Taylor, chair of East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired People’s Forum (EDVIP), said he would be asking for sanctions in the form of withdrawal of other funding from the council, “until East Dunbartonshire Council restores the human rights of the hundreds of disabled, elderly and vulnerable citizens currently being denied safe 
access to their town centre”.

After Thursday’s meeting, Ms Mackay said: “While the Scottish Government cannot directly intervene, the Transport Minister has agreed to discuss the issue of safety and equality with East Dunbartonshire Council and hopefully they will see sense and reinstate the crossing lights.

“Sandy Taylor is quite right to ask for sanctions against East Dunbartonshire Council until this is resolved.”

In response to Thursday’s meeting, council Leader Rhondda Geekie said: “Kirkintilloch Masterplan was 
designed to meet demands for the town centre to be 
improved for shoppers, 
traders, residents and visitors.”

She insisted the council was “not creating a ‘shared space’,” adding this was thanks to local campaigners such as the EDVIP.

Ms Geekie said: “The pilot exercise which took place in August-September 2014 underwent two independent Road Safety Audits (RSA) which did not raise objections.

“The final design also 
underwent an independent RSA and the Roads Construction Consent process.”

She added that an “independent appraisal” by charity Living Streets Scotland stated that the “design proposals for the Cowgate have been
 well thought out, with the needs of pedestrians as a 
priority.”