Keeping pedestrians and moving vehicles separate is key to ensuring the road safety of the growing number of London’s blind and partially sighted people.
That’s the view of David Clarke, director of services at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Mr Clarke was one of three experts to address the London Road Safety Council’s quarterly meeting on 12 January, as part of a presentation titled ‘A vision for the streets of London’.
The first of the experts, Ian Davies, master spectacle maker at The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, set the scene – revealing that there are currently 200,000 blind people in London, as well as 700,000 living with a sight threatening disease.
He added that these numbers are expected to double over the next decade.
Mr Davies then handed over to Mr Clarke, who highlighted the key road safety concerns of blind and partially sighted people.
At the centre of this was shared space – with a plea for authorities to keep pedestrians and moving vehicles separate.
Mr Clarke also highlighted issues such as the importance of keeping pavements clear and clutter-free, making sure crossings are accessible and ensuring kerbs are detectable.
He then handed over to Michael Bowen, director of research at the College of Optometrists, who looked at the issue of vision and driving.
Mr Bowen answered the question ‘how can eye disease and visual impairments affect drivers’ vision?’ by showing examples of how different conditions and causes of vision problems can affect what a driver can see.
This included cataracts and glaucoma.
The trio concluded the session by leaving LRSC members with two key takeaways.
The first, to consider needs of blind and partially sighted in road and pavement design and consultation.
They also stressed the importance of regular, comprehensive eye exams for all drivers.
A copy of the presentation is available for LRSC members via the members’ area of the website.
21 January 2022