To ask the Minister for Transport if he has been in communication with or intends to communicate with the National Roads Authority and local authorities in order to discuss the need to ensure that roads and footpaths are accessible for the mobility and sensory impaired; his further plans in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 7th December, 2004.
Ref No: 32386/04 Lottery: 15 Proof: 58
Answered by the Minister for Transport (Martin Cullen)
The planning, design and implementation of national road improvement projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) and the relevant local authority.
As the Deputy will be aware national roads are predominantly outside built-up areas and, accordingly, the need to ensure that roads and footpaths are accessible for the mobility and sensory impaired does not normally arise in such circumstances. I understand the NRA's Design Manual for Roads and Bridges also includes guidelines for national roads within urban areas. These require that particular attention be given to the needs of mobility and sensory impaired persons in the planning and construction of road works generally and, in particular, where pedestrian crossing facilities are being provided. The guidelines require local authorities to take special care so as to avoid steep or irregular gradients or sharp changes in the alignment of footpaths, which might prove deceptive to visually impaired persons. Local authorities are also required to ensure that 'dished' kerbs are provided and that wheelchair ramps, constructed of non-slip material, are provided at pedestrian crossing points, where possible. In addition, local authorities have been asked to consider reserving on-street car parking spaces for mobility impaired drivers.