Implications of Equality Act 2010 for accessible streets (including shared space)

Edinburgh Napier University & Transport Research Institute

Professor Tom Rye
Director, Transport Research Institute
also Living Streets Edinburgh


  • Introduction to Equality Act –especially duty to make “reasonable adjustments”
  • Examples from Edinburgh of where reasonable adjustments not made
  • Shared space and the Equality Act
  • How City of Edinburgh must improve
  • Living Streets interest in “inclusive design”
  • (Thanks to RNIB and CAB for some text in this presentation)

Equality Act 2010

  • UK law, follows from DDA 1995 and 2005
  • Protects “protected groups” from discrimination
  • Disabled people are a “protected group”
  • Service providers e.g. Council have duty to make reasonable adjustments to avoid putting people with disabilities at a substantial disadvantage compared to people who are not disabled.
  • When looking at streets, indirect discrimination is key –this is when:
    • there’s a policy, practice or rule which applies to everybody in the same way
    • it places disabled people at a disadvantage
    • it places you personally at a disadvantage
    • the person applying the policy, practice or rule can’t show there’s a good enough reason for it.

What’s a reasonable adjustment?

  • One that’s effective in reducing disadvantage
  • Practical
  • Cost is in proportion to resources and size of the business

Transport Scotland run test of reasonableness for improvements

Transport Scotland Test of Reasonableness

Following pictures show reasonable adjustments that were not made as part of wider schemes – not places where stand alone reasonable adjustments may be required

Reasonable adjustments missed here not isolated examples – these are missed regularly and presumably therefore systematically in schemes across Edinburgh

City of Edinburgh – reasonable adjustments not made – 24 hour protection of crossing points from parking?

City of Edinburgh reasonable adjustments not made

City of Edinburgh – reasonable adjustments not made – crossfall?

City of Edinburgh reasonable adjustments not made - crossfall

City of Edinburgh –reasonable adjustments not made –no tactile?

City of Edinburgh reasonable adjustments not made – no tactile

City of Edinburgh –reasonable adjustments not made –cars can park on very busy bus stop?

City of Edinburgh –reasonable adjustments not made –cars can park on very busy bus stop

City of Edinburgh –reasonable adjustments not made –no dropped kerbs or tactile?

City of Edinburgh –reasonable adjustments not made – no dropped kerbs or tactile

Shared space

  • Shared space is very expensive – Exhibition Rd in London cost £30m
  • Therefore unlikely to be installed in large parts of towns and cities
  • If is installed, needs those features recommended by RNIB
  • Also, removal of formal crossings may be indirect indiscrimination under Equality Act.

Living Streets Edinburgh view on Shared Space

  • We support in principle anything that gives more streetspace to people on foot and protects them from car traffic
  • However, high quality conventional footway widening and crossings, or full pedestrianisation, can be as good or better than shared space –and cheaper
  • If shared space is implemented it must incorporate features to make it accessible to blind/partially sighted people and retain any formal crossings

Shared space in Exhibition Rd London

What could CEC do to ensure reasonable adjustments are built into schemes and policies?

  • Train its design engineers and staff who draw up traffic regulation orders
  • Ensure design engineers carry out site visits for all schemes, even small maintenance schemes
  • Introduce a proper access audit for all schemes and an ”access champion” to check all designs
  • Introduce a test of reasonableness
  • Apply its own policies and Street Design Guidance

Not doing these things –failure to implement Public Sector Equality Duty of Equality Act

What could Access Panel do to ensure CEC build reasonable adjustments into schemes and policies?

  • Look at the major maintenance and improvement schemes in their planning stages and point out reasonable adjustments required
  • Help CEC staff to do the accessibility audit of these schemes
  • Participate in street audits
  • Point out and complain where reasonable adjustments have not been made in recent schemes
  • Point out that this is unlawful
  • Ultimately point out that Council could be taken to court if it continues to fail to make reasonable adjustments


Thank you

Tom Rye

Living Streets Edinburgh

Edinburgh Access Panel