Councillors got the chance to understand concerns of blind campaigners during a walk along the Aberdeen’s Broad Street today.
Elected members put on spectacles that simulate different sight loss conditions in a bid to experience the area from the perspective of a person with a visual impairment.
Campaigners say the controversial “shared space” design of Broad Street effectively bars blind and partially sighted people from using it as both streets and pavements are levelled.
Mary Rasmussen, committee member of Guide Dogs Aberdeen, said she tries to “avoid the area at all costs”.
During a visit to Marischal College this week, she was left standing for 10 minutes trying to cross the road.
She said: “The buses are terribly respectful and very slow but when you don’t know where the pavement ends and the road starts then you can’t make any attempt to cross the road.
“I eventually asked a member of the public to help me cross over.
“My guide dog Vince looks for a kerb so he doesn’t know where to stop. Our real hope is for a controlled crossing in the area.”
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Aberdeen resident Amanda Burt, who has had the sight loss condition retinitafibroplaisia all her life, share’s Mary’s concerns.
She said: “I don’t use Broad Street. I would find it very dangerous as there is no way of knowing where you are.
“Frankly, for blind people, shared spaces are terrible and very dangerous and they should be removed.”
Niall Foley, engagement manager with Guide Dogs Scotland, said: “Blind and partially sighted people, particularly guide dog owners and long cane users, use the kerb as a navigation clue to know where they are in a street.
“Many blind and partially sighted people, and disabled and elderly people, have said they feel unable to use shared surface streets in their towns and this obviously impacts on their independence.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “Organisations such as the RNIB have engaged with us as part of a planned monitoring review of the project following its opening.
“Officers will report back to the operational delivery committee next Thursday.
“The design and build of the project followed best practice and Government guidelines.”