CONCERNS have been raised about the risk of tram works to the disabled, after a partially sighted woman narrowly avoided falling into a cavity when she followed a sign which led to a hole in the road.
Jacq Kelly, 29, who is registered blind, said she was trying to pick her way through the pedestrian diversion at the top of Broughton Street and followed an arrow which led her towards a large hole which had no barrier around it.
She said if it had not been for the intervention of a man waiting at a nearby bus stop, she would have fallen into the hole.
Now her MSP and disabled campaign groups are calling for more consideration to be given to the needs of disabled people when tram works are being carried out.
Ms Kelly said: “The road at the top of Broughton Street is a mess and it’s not entirely clear where you can cross safely. There also seems to be a lack of care taken to ensure that holes in the road are covered.
“I was prevented from walking into a large hole in the road by a member of the public who noticed me walking towards it, after I followed what I had identified as a large arrow pointing in that direction.
“The hole had no barrier across it and I would have likely been severely injured had I not been given assistance.
“I’m not looking for anyone to blame, I’m just looking for someone to say this won’t happen again. I don’t want to end up head first in a tram hole.”
The Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living (LCiL) said tram works were a problem for many people.
A spokesman said: “It’s a major issue in the city for a number of disabled people across the impairment groups in terms of diversions and things that people don’t always see like dropped kerbs. It can have quite an impact on people and we’ve heard from a lot of our service users that they have been experiencing problems.”
Kirsty Kerr, 50, of Colinton, suffers from multiple sclerosis and often has to use a wheelchair or walking stick to get around the city.
She said the tram works had made it problematic to get anywhere and she had become reliant on taxis, at an extra cost.
“It’s making it very difficult for me,” she said. “If I’m walking with a stick then that gets stuck in the lines and the barriers everywhere make it hard to manoeuvre my power chair.
“I have to get taxis which cost even more than they normally would because they are taking diversions. I don’t think they’re helping anyone with disabilities.”
Edinburgh Central SNP MSP Marco Biagi said: “Anyone who has been at the top of Broughton Street or in St Andrew Square can see what a maze it is – and that’s without being disabled. I can only imagine what it is like for someone with visual impairment.
“The traffic management review panel needs to look at what kind of input it takes from disabled people on the front line and make sure they are getting enough feedback.”
“It is also vital that anyone who has had problems like Jacq has had reports them, so something can be done.”
Transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “Our contractors have an obligation to ensure that the areas around work sites are safe for all pedestrians, including people with disabilities. When concerns are brought to our attention regarding this we act quickly to resolve them. We also engage with disabled people who live and work near worksites to keep them informed of any changes to access routes as the works progress.”
The council urged anyone with an access problem to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.