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Pedestrians with Disabilities and Town and City Streets: From Shared to Inclusive Space?

Abstract

This article highlights the importance of ensuring that accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities, as required by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,  is fully embedded in efforts to reduce the dominance of cars in city streets and promote more active modes of travel (including walking, wheeling and cycling) in line with global agendas. Drawing on emerging findings from the Inclusive Public Space research project, we present and critically reflect on types of difficulty associated with streets in which what is commonly known as a ‘shared space’ design operates, and those in which all or part of the available space is designated as primarily for pedestrian use. The data on which this analysis is based is qualitative, deriving from 83 semi-structured interviews about the experiences of our participants (a substantial majority of whom identified as having a disability) in two large UK cities and their wider metropolitan areas. The types of exclusionary experience described by our participants are organised into two broad overlapping categories –  first, difficulties associated with navigating environments in which kerbs have been removed; and second, difficulties associated with interacting with vehicles (including bicycles) within and at the boundaries of shared or pedestrian spaces. Our findings are in line with those of previous projects that challenge and complicate claims that ‘shared space’ design, with its removal of kerbs and controlled crossings, enhances safety and mobility for all. Further, they demonstrate that many of the concerns associated with ‘shared space’ environments are also applicable to other types of street environment intended primarily for pedestrians. As well as highlighting and raising awareness of potential types of exclusion against which action should be taken, we draw attention to measures that could reduce the risk of such exclusionary barriers arising and persisting.

 

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Published:
Pages:41 to 62
Section: Academic
How to Cite
Lawson, A., Eskytė, I., Orchard, M., Houtzager, D. and De Vos, E. (2022) “Pedestrians with Disabilities and Town and City Streets: From Shared to Inclusive Space?”, The Journal of Public Space, 7(2), pp. 41-62. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v7i2.1603.

Author Biographies

Anna Lawson is Professor of Law at the University of Leeds where she is also a joint director of the University’s Centre for Disability Studies. Anna is a Board member of the European Disability Expertise Network (formerly the Academic Network of European Disability Experts). She is also the joint founder of the International Journal of Disability and Social Justice. Her work focuses on disability equality and human rights at international, national and local levels. Herself disabled, Anna has played active roles in a range of disabled people’s organisations and human rights organisations – including being a member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Disability Advisory Committee (until Spring 2022) and patron of the National Association of Disabled Staff Networks.

Dr Ieva Eskytė is a researcher at the School of Law, Centre for Disability Studies, centre for Law and Social Justice, University of Leeds 

Research Fellow, Inclusive Public Space project, School of Law, University of Leeds.

Disability Studies in Nederland
Netherlands Netherlands

Dick Houtzager is a legal researcher. He worked as a professional in human rights law and specialised in EU and Dutch non-discrimination law. From 2010 to 2019 Dick was appointed as a commissioner at the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, where he was responsible for disability related issues. in 2022 he was appointed as scientific officer at the office of the Dutch National Coordinator against Discrimination and Racism.

Research Director as well as founder CHAMP Research & Consult, the Netherlands. Specialized in (cross-national) research and consultancy projects in the field of social security programme operation, Return to Work and Employment policies for persons with disabilities. Participative Action Research (PAR) on social and labour market issues, social security, health, disability and employment. He published on social security, employment, inclusion and active labour market policies. He does research on behalf of European organisations (EuroFound, EC-Horizon 2020) and is active member of expert groups on disability, research and work (GLADNET, EHESP, DSiN, FSIO/BSV, IDSS, EC-REA, University of Leeds, ZonMw).

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