HC Deb 21 May 1984 vol 60 cc663-4
1. Mr. Greenway

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if the guidance he gives to local authorities about the criteria for providing pedestrian crossings includes specific provisions reflecting the requirements of disabled people; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Department of Transport (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)

Yes, Sir. Special advice is given on when to provide pedestrian facilities and the use of pelican crossings is recommended in preference to zebra crossings. We also require the use of audible signals with pelican and signal crossings to help the blind, where appropriate.

Mr. Greenway

I thank my hon. Friend for her reply. As a principle, will her Department additionally require dropped kerbs at all pedestrian crossings to aid the disabled and ensure that they have time to cross when it is appropriate to do so? Will she push the GLC into action in my constituency by encouraging it to provide a crossing that is suitable for the disabled at Cowgate road? The GLC has for 12 months frustrated my efforts to get a crossing there for the disabled.

Mrs. Chalker

Although we welcome the use of dropped kerbs, they are sometimes distracting for the blind if they are used unexpectedly. Therefore, we feel it best to consider using dropped kerbs when they are in combination with some form of textured pavement surface. I note my hon. Friend's comment about the GLC. I am not in the least surprised, but I doubt whether it will take any advice from me.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Will the Minister make sure that when ramping is used it is not such as to allow the disabled person's wheelchair to enter the no-go area while it is not allowed to be in it, but makes it easier to cross the road when it is safe to do so?

Mrs. Chalker

I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern. Some dropped kerbs have a slight ridge before meeting the roadway. The use of this new type of dropped kerb seems to provide an added safeguard for those who are chairbound.

Sir David Price

Does my hon. Friend agree that the proper ramping of pedestrian crossings is essential for those in wheelchairs and for semi-invalids? Does she recognise that incompetent ramping by local authorities can be lethal to those whom they are endeavouring to help?

Mrs. Chalker

I recognise that incompetent ramping is extremely dangerous. We give guidance to local authorities, but if my hon. Friend or any other hon. Member comes across ramping that is plainly dangerous, I hope that he or she will take up the matter with the local highway authority.

Mr. Coombs

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the guidelines allow for extra time to be given at crossings in the vicinity of hospitals? Does she agree that there is a case to be made for extra time to be provided at crossings in the vicinity of old people's homes, nursing homes and even post offices, where many elderly people have to go every week to collect their pensions?

Mrs. Chalker

I understand my hon. Friend's point about increased time. I believe that a small increase in the "steady green man" time would be desirable to compensate for the crossing time that is lost by the pedestrian's delay in reacting to the appearance of the crossing signal. A small increase would help the disabled. I am considering that and whether to delay the start of the flashing amber light that is shown to drivers, which would help those whom my hon. Friend has in mind to negotiate the crossings safely.