Pedestrian crossings must allow time for old and disabled, says NICE

Councils need to ensure that older and disabled people have enough time to cross the road when using pedestrian crossings, says the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Councils need to ensure that older and disabled people and parents with prams have enough time to cross the road when using pedestrian crossings, says the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

People with limited mobility may find it hard to cross the road in the time allowed.
 Picture: iStock

The number of road crossings, and how accessible they are, may not be meeting people's needs and this can put people off going out and about, according to a draft guideline.

NICE's guidance on encouraging physical activity in local communities calls on councils to ensure that people with limited mobility are given enough time to cross safely when using pedestrian crossings.

The guideline says: 'The environment can make it difficult for some groups to be active. For example, older people and others with limited mobility may find it difficult to cross the road in the time allowed by crossing signals.'

Limited mobility

It also calls on councils to ensure that those with limited mobility – including people who are older, frail, disabled, those who need mobility aids and people with children using buggies or prams – have enough accessible crossings.

Authorities should also ensure that crossings have dropped down kerbstones for wheelchair users or tactile paving to help people with visual impairments.

All crossings should have an audible beep and tactile rotating cones, which are used to help visually impaired people know when it is safe to cross, NICE says.

Footways should be free from unauthorised and unnecessary obstructions including pavement parking where it is not permitted, the guideline says.

Consistent policies

It says councils should ensure they have consistent policies on permanent or temporary obstructions on footways, including vending boards, bins, parked cars and street furniture such as benches and hanging baskets.

The updated guideline, which is being put out for consultation, makes a series of other recommendations for councils to help people in their communities stay active, including:

  • Improving cycling infrastructure and installing secure cycle storage facilities in public places and on public transport.
  • Ensure footways, footpaths and cycle routes are well-maintained by removing hazards such as tree roots, potholes or broken paving slabs and ensuring they are not hidden by overgrown or poorly managed vegetation.
  • Encourage community groups and volunteers to support the maintenance and use of public open spaces, including trails and footpaths, for example by reporting any problems affecting use and accessibility.

'The guideline outlines ways to overcome barriers to people being more active by making public spaces attractive, easy to get to and safe,' said Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE.

Community benefit

'Safe, accessible streets and well-maintained parks can help people to get active and live longer, healthier lives.'

Public Health England's national lead for physical activity Justin Varney said: 'People living with impairments are less active, and this can be due to the way the built environment, including public spaces and transport systems, is designed.

'Making physical activity accessible to everyone when planning spaces benefits communities in terms of health, environmental sustainability and economic regeneration.'

Further information

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