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London council completes Exhibition Road tactile paving tests

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has announced that tests on its “corduroy paving” to be used on Exhibition Road’s shared space have been successful.

An 800mm corduroy paving has been tested over a period of months in lab conditions and on a section of Exhibition Road. Results indicate that the paving will be readily detected by visually impaired people without causing additional difficulty for people with mobility problems.

It will now be fully installed along Exhibition Road, though the council said it 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 potential impact on visually impaired visitors of the Council’s single surface Exhibition Road scheme. In response, the council promised to work with Guide Dogs on finding a “tactile delineator” that would effectively mark the pedestrian and traffic zones.

“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,” said council leader Sir Merrick Cockell. “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.”

“We welcome the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s research and commitment to the testing programme,” said Campaigns for Guide Dogs head of public policy David Cowdrey. “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.”

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