Charity for blind slams borough’s ‘extremely dangerous’ bus stops

National Federation for the Blind UK has criticised the cycle lane bus stops installed as part of the Mini-Holland scheme

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Andrew stepping off a bus and onto a cycle lane (credit: NFBUK)

A charity for the blind has criticised Waltham Forest Council for installing “extremely dangerous” bus stops that force people to walk through cycle lanes.

Andrew Hodgson, chair of the National Federation for the Blind UK (NFBUK), visited “shared-use” bus stops in Walthamstow earlier this week.

In one video filmed at a bus stop in Markhouse Road, Andrew, who is blind and uses a cane to walk, stepped off the bus and immediately onto a cycle lane.

After asking if he was still on the cycle lane and being told they had moved to the pavement, he added: “The demarcation between the pavement and the cycle lane is pathetic. It really is extremely dangerous.”

Andrew argues that bus stops where cycle lanes pass between the shelter and the road should be scrapped completely as they “ignore” the needs of pedestrians and disabled people.

However, Transport for London (TfL) supports the use of such stops as a way to keep cyclists safe from road traffic if alternative options are not possible.

Another video filmed by NFBUK at a similar stop in Lea Bridge Road shows several cyclists, scooters and electric bikes speeding past passengers leaving the bus, without appearing to slow down.

One cyclist shouts at a passenger as she passes, while a rider of a large Zero Emissions Delivery (ZED) cargo bike swerves past Andrew into the passenger waiting area without stopping.

(Credit: NFBUK)

Both bus stops,  which are described as “shared use bus boarders”, were installed by Waltham Forest Council between 2017 and 2018 under the £27m Transport for London-funded Mini-Holland programme.

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At the time, a blog post by Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign raised concerns they could create “conflict” between pedestrians and cyclists.

They suggested the council should instead focus on installing “bus stop bypasses”, namely stops where the cycle lane passes behind the stop. 

Designs of the new cycle lanes on Markhouse Road, published by Waltham Forest Council in 2016, suggested they would make the area “more” accessible and inclusive, “particularly” for more vulnerable groups.

However, the cycle lanes that were constructed the following year do not change colour or road surfacing as they pass in front of bus stops. Waltham Forest council has not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Following the original publication of this article, the council’s cabinet member for air quality and climate action Clyde Loakes said vulnerable road users and active travellers have been “marginalised” by the last few decades of highway design.

He said: “Between 2017 and 2021 there were nine serious injuries to pedestrians with four fatalities at Lea Bridge Road, none of which involved cyclists. Over the same time, there were 14 serious injuries to cyclists.

“The biggest danger to vulnerable road users continues to be motor vehicles and that is where our focus needs to be – any injury or fatality is one too many. By prioritising the safety of people who walk or cycle we can help keep all road users safe.

“Waltham Forest will continue to put all vulnerable road users at the centre of our highways design, encourage residents and visitors to use active travel wherever possible, and learn from the places across the world that do it best.”

A spokesperson for TfL did not respond when asked what feedback it provided on the council’s cycle lane designs at Markhouse Road.

However, Helen Cansick, TfL’s head of healthy streets investment, said: “Keeping everyone travelling in the capital safe is our top priority and the needs of blind and partially sighted people are always taken into consideration when designing cycle lanes.

“Bus stop bypasses and shared use bus boarders are a nationally recognised approach for avoiding the dangers of cyclists going around buses into oncoming traffic.”

Helen confirmed that TfL is undertaking a review of safety at bus stops.

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