When Street Design Leaves Some People Behind

  • Date: 09/13/2020

Last month, cycling advocates in the U.K. cheered the opening of Manchester’s “CYCLOPS.” Short for “Cycle Optimised Protected Signals,” the redesigned junction is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, land of the difficult roundabout. Cyclists can ride seamlessly around the “external orbital cycle route,” separate from pedestrians, who cross cycle lanes and traffic islands, and in sync with motor vehicle traffic. It will act as a blueprint, advocates say, for future junction design.

But for some pedestrians, CYCLOPS is riddled with conflict. Those who are blind or partially sighted told me that the flattened curbs offer little indication that cyclists are approaching from either direction. The traffic-island-hopping produces multiple pressure points. People with hearing issues have trouble picking up the quiet hum of bicycle traffic. If this is the future, then accessibility advocates are concerned.

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