Green man danger for blind pedestrians


By Michael MacLeod

A CHARITY for the blind has hit out at a dangerous pedestrian crossing which was left beeping continuously – even when it was unsafe to walk.

The crossing in Edinburgh city centre rang out with the signal which indicates a green man for 30 minutes every time it was pressed at the weekend.

Even when a red man appeared, the beeping sound continued while traffic drove through – which could have proved fatal for a blind or partially sighted person.

The lights were installed as part of the roadworks for Edinburgh’s new tram system, but locals were astonished that workmen just left them like that.

And the blunder was slammed by The Royal National Institute for the Blind in Scotland (RNIB), who demanded urgent action.

Last night (Monday) engineers switched off the lights after complaints from worried locals.

The danger lights were installed as part of roadworks for Edinburgh’s new trams.

Residents said they couldn’t sleep because of the constant “ear piercing” beeping sound on Saturday and Sunday nights.

One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “This noise became quite an attraction for drunk people in the street at 2am last night.

“Just when you thought you had some peace and quiet half an hour later, someone would press it again, followed by lads cheering and laughing.

“It was ear-piercing but a colour-blind or partially-blind person could be caught out by this.

“It makes you wonder why the workmen never questioned it themselves.”

The controversial crossing lies in the shadow of Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street – which prides itself on promoting access for partially sighted and disabled visitors.

The country’s leading sight-loss charity, RNIB Scotland said the crossing was “a big concern.”

A spokesperson said: “It can be a very daunting experience if you have little or no sight, so we hope the council will investigate this matter further.

“This is one of our biggest concerns, for people with sight-loss getting around outside their homes.

“Charities such as RNIB Scotland work to help people to gain the confidence and skills to interact safely and independently with their environment.

“But that is only half the solution – the facilities and services on offer must be made as safe and accessible as possible.”

A spokesperson for Edinburgh City Council said an engineer would strive to fix the problem “as quickly as possible.”

They said: “This is a busy junction and we’ve got an engineer out there now addressing the problem as quickly as possible.”