Older people and those with limited mobility need a longer period of time to cross the road
According to health officials in the UK, the green man at pedestrian crossings should flash for longer to give older members of the public and disabled people more time to cross the road.
The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE), published a draft guidance document in which they stated that some elderly people struggle to get across the road because the green man stops flashing too quickly, not giving them enough time to be able to cross safely.
The guidance document also claims those pushing prams and disabled people struggle with the green man not lighting up for long enough, which could be stopping members of the public from going out and keeping active. The NICE document also said that pavements need to be kept clear of nonessential clutter such as shop boards, seats and bins to ensure proper accessibility is available for everyone.
It’s our local councils who are responsible for the pedestrian crossings in our area and according to officials, they need to make sure that all members of the public are given ample time to be able to cross the road safely.
According to the DfT, the green man stays lit at pedestrian crossings for less than four seconds and for no longer than nine seconds, all of which comes down to how wide the road is.
However, a study published in 2014 by University College London, discovered that a lot of people have trouble getting across the road in the time allocated by the crossings. Their research found the average pedestrian crossing needed people to be walking at a speed of 1.2 metres per second but despite this, the average walking speed of those over the age of 65 is only 0.9 metres per second for men and 0.8m/s for women.
As a result of these findings, only 15% of women and 24% of men in this age group actually walk fast enough to be able to use a pedestrian crossing safely walking at their normal speed.
Councils are also being urged to ensure there’s enough accessible pedestrian crossings in their area, especially for those with limited mobility, such as the elderly or disabled.
Health officials said all crossings should be adapted to enable all members of the public to cross in a safe way and pathways should always be free from ‘unauthorised and unnecessary obstructions’.
“The guideline outlines ways to overcome barriers to people being more active by making public spaces attractive, easy to get to and safe,” said director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, Professor Mark Baker.
The doctor in charge of physical activity at Public Health England, Dr Justin Varney said: “Physical activity benefits everyone at all stages of life. People living with impairments are less active, and this can be due to the way the built environment, including public spaces and transport systems, is designed.”
The Local Government Association, who represent councils in the UK, said councils do manage the streets in their area to ensure accessibility is not compromised despite recent Government cuts to funding.
Their spokesman said: “We will carefully consider this new guidance before responding to the consultation.”
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