Edinburgh’s Transport and Environment Committee has pledged to implement a dedicated platform which will allow residents to flag necessary dropped kerbs at their Meeting on 28th January following a deputation from Tartan Silk.
Working with Disability Advocate and Edinburgh resident Keith Falconer, Tartan Silk submitted the request based on the experiences faced by wheelchair users as they make their way around the City.
Mr Falconer’s experience of living in Edinburgh changed when he became an amputee. “I was appalled to find I could not get from my home to my GP’s surgery because of missing dropped kerbs in the centre of Edinburgh.”
“Access to services such as health, education and leisure is a basic human right and should be non-negotiable.” Mr Falconer continued “we hoped to suggest a solution which could be implemented quickly to improve accessibility in the City Centre after discussions with Councillors about the issues facing residents and visitors with disabilities”.
Whizz-Kidz, a National charity who support young wheelchair users and their families, Keith Falconer and Tartan Silk collected lived experiences from both residents and visitors to the City. Missing dropped kerbs, lack of accessible toilets and disabled parking bays were common issues for those trying to navigate Edinburgh.
Councillor Lezley Marion Cameron, Chair of the CEC Cross Party Equalities Working Group, welcomed the pledge. “I’m delighted that the Committee backed my call to support the deputation’s request to Council to introduce this new online portal. This will make our City more safely accessible for all.”
Gareth Barwell, the Council’s Head of Place Management confirmed that work is commencing on provision of this new portal and that an update including a proposed date for its introduction would be reported to the Transport and Environment Committee.
In response to this encouraging move forward Councillor George Gordon, Disability’s Champion for the City of Edinburgh Council said: “I am pleased the Committee heard the presentation and took on board the lived experience of wheelchair users. This commitment shows the Council really is listening and taking actions, ensuring that the issues disabled people face are high on the agenda. I look forward to seeing many more decisions like this coming forward to make Edinburgh a truly disability friendly City.”
A dropped kerb is one aspect of the improvements necessary for pedestrian crossings. Similarly pushing the button without assistance allows a greater independence.
Neatbox have developed a cost-effective solution to activate the crossing using a smart phone without the need to reach for the button which has been successful implemented in several locations around Scotland.
Gavin Neate who developed this technology said “upgrading what is, to all intents and purposes, a grade one listed city is never easy. However, the need to be inclusive to all members of our society and remain the destination of choice means we must make the necessary improvements. Edinburgh’s streets and the safety of its pedestrians must be of upmost importance. With the Council using technology to improve access through dropped kerbs it is hoped that other technological solutions such as “ButtonApp” by Neatebox can be implemented throughout Edinburgh.”
The new online portal will be designed for residents to notify the Council of necessary dropped kerbs in their area. Disability Advocates welcome the commitment which will allow people to move safely and ensure Edinburgh is more accessible to all.