A More Inclusive Exhibition Road

Tactile Paving Helps Blind And Partially Sighted


Blind and partially sighted people will be able to distinguish between pedestrian and traffic zones on the new, kerbless Exhibition Road, thanks to special tactile paving.
The 800mm ‘corduroy paving’, has been undergoing months of testing, in lab conditions, and on a section of Exhibition Road itself, and early results are very encouraging.  They indicate that the paving will be readily detected by visually impaired people without causing additional difficulty for people with mobility problems.

The way is now clear for it to be fully installed along Exhibition Road, though the Council will continue to monitor its impact in case issues arise.

Testing followed concerns expressed last year by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association about the possible impact on visually impaired visitors of the Council’s single surface Exhibition Road scheme.  In response, the Royal Borough restated its commitment to creating the most accessible Exhibition Road ever and promised to work with Guide Dogs on finding a “tactile delineator” that would effectively mark the pedestrian and traffic zones.

Councillor Sir Merrick Cockell, Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said: “From the outset we wanted Exhibition Road to be one of the most accessible cultural quarters in the world and to work with disability groups to make that ambition a reality.  We are glad to have had Guide Dogs as a critical friend of the scheme and we think we now have a way forward.

“Next year the world can look forward to the unveiling of a breathtaking new Exhibition Road, which we believe will be genuinely accessible to disabled people for the first time in its history.”

David Cowdrey, Head of Public Policy and Campaigns for Guide Dogs, said: "We welcome the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's research and commitment to the testing programme.  The initial results are encouraging but until there has been some longer term monitoring, it is too early to think of this as a design solution you can pick off the shelf and apply anywhere. Only by using inclusive design principles can we hope to create streets that are fit for the 21st Century.”

Alex Rook, a public law specialist from law firm Irwin Mitchell represented The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. He said:  “We are delighted that as a result of this litigation, RBKC has undertaken this initial research and agreed to make an application to the Department for Transport for a new road traffic sign to ensure that all road users are aware of this novel street design. 

“RBKC has also agreed to monitor the scheme after implementation and report the outcome to Guide Dogs on a regular basis.  This represents a positive outcome for all parties.”