Disabled people need journey routes to be consistently accessible, whatever mobility aids we use. Ensuring consistent good practice accessibility during road and pavement works enables both Disabled and non-Disabled people to use walking, wheeling and cycling for more journeys, knowing that essential access will not be blocked.
At Wheels for Wellbeing we’re releasing a series of guidance sheets for local authorities, NGOs, other organisations involved in decisions about walking, wheeling and cycling schemes and for anyone with an interest in active travel. These guidance sheets help explain the reasoning behind different aspects of accessible design.
The guidance sheets are aligned with our Guide to Inclusive Cycling (5th edition due early 2024). They may be printed, electronically distributed or quoted provided credit is given to Wheels for Wellbeing.
What should happen at road works: The legal situation
Equality Act (2010) Section 20: Requires those responsible for a space to anticipate and make reasonable adjustments to enable Disabled people access with no substantial disadvantage compared to non-Disabled people. This explicitly includes including altering and/or removing physical features which would otherwise exclude Disabled people.
Red Book – Safety at Street Works and Road Works (2013) Statutory Code of Practice:
This Code of Practice contains rules which anyone carrying out roadworks must follow.
Legal status: “failure to comply with this Code is a criminal offence and may lead to criminal prosecution in addition to any civil proceedings” (p6 – see caveat for Scotland)
“Look after pedestrians”: “You must take into account the needs of children, older people and disabled people, having particular regard for visually impaired people.” (p28)
Footway widths: “A minimum usable footway width of 1.5m should be maintained where possible… In no circumstances must the footway width be reduced below 1.0 metres.” (p16)
Maintain equality of access: “All pedestrian routes must be fit for purpose and able to be used safely by all pedestrians, including older people and disabled people.” (p29)
“Look after cyclists”: “You must ensure suitable provisions are made for the safety of cyclists passing or crossing the works. Particular care is needed where cycle lanes or cycle tracks are affected by street works or road works because these routes may be especially popular with cyclists.” (p35)
10 Points for Good Practice in Accessibility at Temporary Works
- Adhere to the requirements of the Red Book, Safety at Street Works and Road Works (2013) and the Equality Act (2010) described above, at all times. Where possible, exceed minimum legal access space and crossing requirements;
- Provide advanced notice of schemes to local residents including, where possible, signage near to the works site, with contact details to gain more information given;
- Keep pedestrian and cycle routes open and functioning as usual wherever possible, including for larger cycles with access requirements as detailed in LTN 1/20;
- Ensure temporary routes including temporary paths and ramps are accessible and safe for use – stable, step-free, with safe gradients and all-weather grip (see Wheels for Wellbeing accessible surfaces guidance);
- Avoid using “Cycles Dismount” signs. Where there is no alternative to closing cycle or vehicle lanes, add clear signage to indicate that Disabled cyclists may ride through any dismount area at walking speed and provide a signed, accessible diversion (see point 10);
- Prioritise walking, wheeling, cycling and emergency vehicle access through works over other motor vehicle access;
- Prioritise public transport and Disabled driver/passenger access through works over standard private vehicle access;
- Re-allocate carriageway space to retain safe walking, wheeling and cycling access through works – even where this may mean a vehicle diversion is needed or vehicle delays are greater;
- Reduce speed limits, prohibit overtaking of cyclists and introduce calming measures to enable safe on-road cycling through schemes where vehicle access remains open;
- Provide clearly signed diversions on the closest possible safe and accessible alternative routes where cycle and/or pedestrian access restrictions are unavoidable.