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Safety plea over Lowestoft town centre roads

PUBLISHED: 02:00 12 September 2009 | UPDATED: 12:05 06 July 2010

Hayley Mace

The layout of roads and pedestrian crossings in the centre of Lowestoft could be adjusted to make it safer for blind people.

Kerbs along Gordon Road and Milton Road East were removed several years ago to create a shared space without the traditional barriers between cars and pedestrians.

The layout of roads and pedestrian crossings in the centre of Lowestoft could be adjusted to make it safer for blind people.

Kerbs along Gordon Road and Milton Road East were removed several years ago to create a shared space without the traditional barriers between cars and pedestrians.

Though the improvements have made the shopping street more attractive and reduced the amount of traffic, some blind shoppers have said the kerb-free roads are dangerous and putting some people off coming into the town centre alone.

Yesterday local blind guide dog user Chris Collis met East of England MEP Richard Howitt to explain the problems that blind and partially-sighted shoppers face.

Mr Collis, who regularly shops in Lowestoft with his guide dog Smudge, said: “When I come out of Tesco, I can't tell when I'm going onto the zebra crossing. I've walked onto that crossing before and a car has sped ahead of me when I didn't even know it was there.

“There used to be a kerb and a pelican crossing but now there is just the blister paving, so it is easy to walk out into the road without knowing.”

Mr Howitt said he was going to ask Suffolk County Council to review the layout and crossings. He said: “By taking away the kerbs, there is no way to know when you are walking from the pedestrian area on to the road.

“There are some relatively minor changes, such as a pelican crossing on Gordon Road, which would probably be affordable, but which would improve the scheme.”

Paul Moss, joint project manager for Suffolk County and Waveney District Council, said a consultation was carried out with local disability groups when the work was undertaken as part of the Sunrise Scheme and the councils would look at the feedback to see whether any simple changes can be made.

David Cowdrey, campaigns manager for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, said: “We are concerned such schemes are putting blind and partially-sighted people off coming into town centres. But with some careful design changes, this environment could be made much more inclusive.”

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