A roadworks scheme in Preston, Lancashire, has been praised for making one of the city’s main shopping areas more accessible for those using mobility scooters and wheelchairs.

The Fishergate Central Gateway project has received a national award from The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT), who have highlighted the scheme’s success in de-cluttering a busy high street in Preston as one of the best examples in the country.

Make high street accessible?

Funded by Lancashire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund, the Fishergate roadworks scheme was introduced in 2014 to improve access into Preston City Centre. The scheme focused on adapting the city’s gateway roads to reduce traffic through one of its major commercial areas and make the central “shared space” a more attractive prospect for businesses and shopkeepers in Preston.

Another key element of the new road layout was to make the high street more accessible for pedestrians, including safer access for those shopping on their mobility scooter or in a wheelchair. This included decluttering the roads of signs and markings to make the space more open, as Preston City Council explains: “’Shared space’ is an urban design approach which reduces the markings separating vehicles and pedestrians, and often involves removing kerbs and traffic signs to produce a more open space. The end result will be a high-quality place fit for many uses with widened pavements of high-quality materials, incorporating trees”.

The innovative approach has not only helped to make the Fishergate area an attractive part of Preston but traffic experts also believe that the roads running through this commercial space are now safer, as drivers are encouraged to be more aware of other road users. So much so, that the scheme has recently been awarded.

Responding to this news, County Councillor John Fillis, a cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Anyone using Fishergate previously will remember how difficult it was to walk along with railings, advertising stands, phone boxes and signs which made it a difficult shopping experience, especially when there were lots of pedestrians at busy times.

“If you take a look at photographs before and after, it is amazing to see how much it has changed and it is now so much more accessible, especially for people with prams, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.”

The successful Fishergate scheme is expected to influence other roadwork projects in Lancashire in the future.

Image Credit: David Dixon (geograph.org)


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