Submission to Transport Committee Inquiry on disabled access to transport

The Cycling Embassy has submitted evidence to the Transport Committee Inquiry on legislation relating to transport for disabled people. Our submission can be read here [pdf]. 

From 1 October 2010, the Equality Act replaced most of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The Equality Act aims to protect disabled people and provides legal rights in a number of areas including access to land based transport services. In 2009, the UK Government ratified the UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities. The Convention does not create new rights, but sets out the legal obligations on countries to promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities in all main areas of life, including access to transport.

The Cycling Embassy believes that now is the perfect time to build on the wonderful paralympic legacy resulting from London 2012 to give disabled people greater options to access step-free public transport networks and to get around their local communities without fear or hindrance. We believe that quality bicycle infrastructure is a key to unlocking that potential with a scope that extends beyond the humble bicycle.

We argue against  the current practice of 'shared use' pavements, not only because it puts the more vulnerable, those with sensory impairment, and those with mobility problems into conflict with bicycle users, but also because it represents a poor design solution for disabled people who use mobility scooters, or adapted bicycles.

By contrast, smooth, direct and continuous bicycle infrastructure represents an ideal way of improving the mobility of these groups. Cycle tracks and paths should be designed to the highest standards to accommodate adapted bicycles and other mobility aids without conflict with other bicycle users.

Cycle tracks and paths should be free from obstructions in the form of narrow gates or barriers that currently block and therefore exclude or impede many disabled users. More broadly, bicycle infrastructure should represent a coherent network that allows all types of user to travel wherever they wish, with ease, free from interactions with motor traffic.