A leading disability group has expressed disappointment at the lack of provision for disabled travellers using the new Bishopsgate Bus Gate scheme despite assurances from Transport for London (TfL).
The new traffic restrictions between Shoreditch and London Bridge are part of the Mayor of London and TfL’s Streetspace plans, which aims to make the area one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world.
The new traffic restrictions on Bishopsgate and Gracechurch Street in the City of London will be in operation on weekdays between 7am and 7pm and begin by the start of August.
Whilst London’s regulator maintains that access for emergency services and disabled people will be maintained, one disability group has raised serious concerns.
Transport for All (TfA), an organisation for disabled and older people dedicated to championing the rights to travel with freedom and independence in London, has described the plans as “incredibly disappointing”.
The disability group have published a statement which conveys their disappointment at not being consulted before the changes were designed and that no provision was given to wheelchair accessible taxis and Blue Badge holders despite assurances from TfL.
Earlier this month concerns around disabled access were raised, especially the planned lack of access to London’s only fully wheelchair accessible fleet of vehicle, the black taxi. However, Will Norman, Mayor of London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, reassured disabled users that “the plans will allow taxi access for all”.
London’s licensed taxis, who since 2018 have invested nearly £200million into 3,500 zero-emission vehicles to clean up the capital’s poor air quality as requested by the Mayor of London, will be banned from using the bus gates forcing passengers to pay far higher metered fares and increase journey times.
A Transport for All (TfA) spokesperson said via an open statement: “Sadly, despite assurances from TfL that access through Bishopsgate would be maintained for disabled people, there is no specific provision. Blue badge holders and black cab taxis will be under the same restrictions as all other non-bus motor vehicles.
“These include two bus-only gates at the north and south ends of the road which will not permit any cars or taxis through between the hours of 7am-7pm Mon-Fri, together with a series of Banned Turns restricting movements in the surrounding side streets.
“We know this is incredibly disappointing news for our disabled members who live or work in this area.
“TfL have assured us that they are monitoring the situation, so we urge you to please get in contact with us with any problems that arise as a result of these changes. The more detailed evidence we can build up, the better.
“We fully support attempts to reduce pollution, promote active travel, and avoid a car-based recovery. However, far more needs to be done to ensure that disabled people are not negatively impacted by these changes, in an increasingly hostile and difficult transport system.
“Disabled people were not consulted before these changes were designed and implemented, but will once again have to feedback with problems after they arise.”
TfL have been contacted for comment.