Safety fears over city’s new colourful pedestrian crossings

Concerns have been raised that colourful designs laid over pedestrian crossings in Leicester city centre could be distracting and dangerous.

Last week, Leicester City Council turned two crossings in Charles Street, near its own headquarters, into artworks at a cost of £23,500.

The bright designs are intended to improve the links between the city centre and the Cultural Quarter.

The new features have proved popular with many people, but they have also come under fire.

Leicester Green party spokesperson Mags Lewis said she was concerned about them presenting problems for visually impaired people.

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She said: “I don’t want to sound like a killjoy, but I read about the newly-commissioned street art on pedestrian crossings with some trepidation as I know many people with disabilities, balance and sight impairments, really struggle with busy, loud designs on pedestrian crossings.

“I know myself that balance Is of critical importance to people like me with MS, and that designs, such as the butterflies outside Leicester museum, can be disorientating.”

Ms Lewis warned that the new coverings could also be a hazard for drivers.

She said: “Drivers are bombarded with huge amounts of information on the road, and it makes sense that any variation in the signals they read could be dangerous, even lethal.

“Colours in particular are used sparsely and for specific purposes on signage and road markings, so an explosion of colour at an upcoming junction could get very confusing.

“While public art is fun, maybe the boring legislators are right: keep it off the road.”

City councillor Hemant Rae Bhattia has also raised concerns.

He said: “Roads with a clean, fresh, dark grey surface and crisp, white markings look elegant and user-friendly.

“Flowery fabric prints should be left to curtains.”

Conservative Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Rupert Matthews said: “I’d be willing to give that a go on footpaths in parks and similar areas, but surely there must be a concern that an unexpected and bold pattern like this might distract a driver – especially if they were not paying as much attention as they should.

“Road safety first.”

The city council has said that if people like the new crossings more could be placed elsewhere.

A city council spokesperson said: ‘These markings are intended to identify the pedestrian route into the Cultural Quarter, and also to highlight to drivers where pedestrians cross in these locations.

“There are examples of similar artwork at crossings in many cities around the world.

“They bring life and colour to what are otherwise mundane crossings and have not been installed at the expense of other important road-safe markings, such as zebra crossings.

“The crossings are still controlled by traffic signals which drivers must obey and which pedestrians should also adhere to.”

Leicestershire Live – Leicester News