Oxford

Oxford's Frideswide Square layout 'risk' for blind people

Frideswide Square
Image caption Traffic signals have been removed to allow vehicles to move more freely

Changes are being made to Oxford's Frideswide Square amid concerns it could be dangerous for blind people.

Works, which began in February, are due to finish next week but users have complained there are no controlled crossing points.

The £5.7m scheme included the removal of signals to improve traffic flows.

The council said it would make the contrast of tactile paving more pronounced and add signs encouraging motorists to give way to pedestrians.

Joel Young, who is registered blind, said: "I wouldn't want to take that risk of trying to cross on my own without the support of someone else because there are no controlled crossing points.

"Taking away the traffic lights and pedestrian-controlled crossing points has taken away my ability to cross independently."

'Minimum clutter'

David Deriaz, vice chairman of Oxfordshire Transport and Access Group, said: "You need to watch out for cyclists, which I can do, and I am also concerned that crossing the narrow dual carriageways - there isn't enough space for pedestrians to wait in the central reservation."

The county council said it had met Mr Young and Mr Deriaz to discuss their concerns.

A spokeswoman said: "Any new design needs to be road-tested by users. In particular, innovative designs such as that at Frideswide are likely to require tweaks.

"Following our meeting, we will be improving the contrast of the tactile paving by introducing a band around its perimeter in a contrasting colour to further highlight their presence.

"The design of the square takes into account the needs of a range of people, including those with disabilities.

"There are contrasting and ridged paving stones leading to the crossing points where the tactile paving is.

"Clutter, such as seating and bins, is kept to a minimum and situated away from areas that could pose a problem for people with disabilities."

Image copyright Oxfordshire County Council
Image caption Artist's impression of the completed Frideswide Square

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