Old Street roundabout revamp ‘dangerous’ for disabled travellers
Campaigners fear dramatic redesign could reduce access to station as step-free entrances are shut off
18 January, 2019 — By Calum Fraser
An illustration of how Old Street roundabout could look – work on the main reconstruction is expected to start in April
DISABILITY campaigners have branded the Old Street roundabout redevelopment “troubling” and “dangerous”.
Four step-free entrances to the underground shopping concourse will be shut off and replaced by a lift in a dramatic redesign of the danger junction which could affect access to the station below.
But campaigners are concerned that disabled travellers using the concourse or tube station could be stuck if an incident happens and the lift is crowded or broken.
Andy Greene, a manager and spokesman for Disability Action Islington, said: “Anything that reduces access for people with disabilities is highly troubling. I am not aware of any consultation that has gone on with us or disabled residents in the area around Old Street.
“If there is an incident, then they will be excluded. It limits their options and it is extremely precarious.”
The new lift complies with accessibility regulations and the plans were endorsed by Transport for London’s (TfL) Independent Disability Advisory Group in November last year.
But Mr Greene said: “Any time you build on a development you should be improving on whatever accessibility you have. It feels like they are backsliding here. It is absolutely dangerous.
“I am very surprised this has not been picked up by other people. It flies in the face of any commitment to help people with physical disabilities to live independently.”
At least three subway entrances will be open throughout construction, with two having ramp access.
Traders with outlets in the concourse are concerned about the plans and the consultation process.
Jason Burley, who runs Camden Lock Books in the subway, said: “I don’t think it is sensible to have one lift that all the shops have to share. We have regular deliveries of big boxes of books, then there are cafés and all sorts down here who have constant deliveries.
“I don’t think it is fair on people with disabilities either. It feels like they haven’t really thought this one through.”
Preparatory works at the junction, due to start this year, were brought forward to November 2018 after a serious collision involving a cement mixer, which led to cyclist Sarah Doone having her leg amputated.
“Advanced highway works” are due to begin next month with the main reconstruction expected to start in April.
The redesign will see the north-west arm of the roundabout closed permanently to all traffic. Traffic will operate two-way through the redesigned junction, with fully segregated cycle lanes and cycle-only traffic signals.
TfL’s head of programme sponsorship, Nigel Hardy, said: “Transforming Old Street roundabout will make the area safer, more accessible and more attractive for everyone. We are working closely with businesses and residents to minimise any disruption caused by construction work.
“Access to the retail subway above the station will be maintained via a lift or ramps throughout the project.”