St Albans disability group withdraws support for speed restrictors

A DISABILITY group has withdrawn its support of new “speed restrictors” in Verulamium Park because of the pain they could cause to users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

St Albans District Access Group was asked earlier this year for their opinion on plans to help slow down cyclists, which would include building a number of “rumble strips” and 10cm “gentle swells” that stretch across the footpath.

But after seeing the current construction work they are now encouraging St Albans District Council to rethink their plans.

This comes after the Herts Advertiser reported last week that a disabled teenager, who recently had major spinal surgery, fears he won’t be able to visit the park because the new measures would cause him discomfort.

Chairman Robert Hill has also described their early feedback as “irrelevant” because he believes the council had already secured funding to build the cycle routes and would go ahead regardless of objections.

Mr Hill said: “Having now seen and tested the two speed restrictors already constructed I would encourage the council to abandon them in favour of a ‘pinch point’ barrier at the north end of the Causeway to slow down speeding cyclists plus markings on the paths to remind cyclists and others to ride safely and responsibly.

“The physical speed restrictors may have no impact at all on cyclists but will be an unnecessary deterrent and potential source of pain and/or discomfort to the elderly and disabled in wheelchairs and mobility scooters.”

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Members of the group went along to a site meeting in March and approved the cycle paths based on the information they were given. However, this was submitted without seeing samples of the speed restrictors.

And now, after visiting the park, they have suggested a barrier cyclists must ride around would be more effective and wouldn’t affect access for disabled people.

Heather Cheesborough, head of planning and building control at the council, said: “At an early stage of the planning process we sought the views of the Access Group about these features. This included inviting a wheelchair user, a visually impaired resident and a disabled resident, who uses a mobility scooter, down to the park to show them our plans.

“At the time the group gave its backing to the plans which have been checked by an independent safety expert who takes disability issues into account.

“So far only two rumble strips have been put in place and no swells have been constructed. The rumble strips are currently raised from the ground, but will be made flush with the pavement once the works have been completed.

“When they are constructed the swells will each rise gently to a height of 10cm and then fall over the course of a three metre stretch.”

People from St Albans District Access Group will be invited to the site to discuss the plans and raise any issues they have.

The initial stage of the engineering works to build the first of two cycle routes in Verulamium Park has been completed. The rest of the work is scheduled to continue until mid-September.