Removing Five Ways traffic lights would be ‘ridiculous and dangerous’, says disability campaigner

The Five Ways junction in Buxton.
The Five Ways junction in Buxton.

A campaigner has branded the idea of removing the traffic lights from Buxton’s busy Five Ways junction as “ridiculous and dangerous”.

At the recent Buxton on the Move transport conference, video producer and traffic system reformer Martin Cassini suggested getting rid of traffic control at the junction would see the area become people-friendly once more – and bring back neighbourhood shops.

However disability campaigner Sarah Gayton is against the idea and feels it would be in conflict with the Equality Act.

She said: “If this went ahead it would impact on blind people who rely on the traffic lights to know when and where to cross the road. It would be ridiculous and dangerous to get rid of them.

“It is non-sensical that people interested in helping Buxton prosper would want to take such measures that would hamper disabled people.”

Sarah has been involved with campaigning to abolish shared space traffic zones for several years, and seen the negative knock-on effect removing traffic lights causes.

She said: “Since the shared space was brought in at Leek town centre, I know blind people who won’t shop there because they are scared, and that is no way to live.

“Five Ways junction is a busy one and having a traffic light-controlled pedestrian crossing creates an element of safety and keeps all people equal.

“If these changes are made then there still has to be controlled crossings made available for blind and disabled people to cross the road.”
Sarah said in other areas of the country where traffic lights have been removed, some councils reinstated them after 18 months.

She added: “Buxton needs to take a holistic approach to tackling congestion and to actually take the challenge to make Buxton one of the most accessible places in the UK for people with all disabilities to live and work, at the same time as improving congestion for all road users.

“It would be a unique selling point to add to the many other attractions Buxton has for visitors and residents alike.”

David Bates, of the National Federation of the Blind, issued a warning over removing the traffic lights and creating a shared space.

He said: “Blind people are invariably afraid to step out in front of approaching vehicles which they can’t see, so they will be able to use such non-accessible crossings only when accompanied by a sighted guide.

“Some prefer to avoid such dangerous places entirely by travelling to other safer venues, even though they may have used that pedestrian control facility at that junction for many years previously.”