Equality Act 2010: Notice of Discrimination

Served on: Coventry City Council
Served by: James Avery, Chapelfields, Coventry
Email: james@p~p …

Discrimination occurs under the Equality Act 2010 when one or more persons are treated in a manner which is significantly disadvantageous because they have a protected characteristic.

There is widespread discrimination against people who do, and even more significantly against people who would like to cycle around the city of Coventry, but are prevented from doing so, due to a number of protected characteristics, including, but not limited to:

  1. Age (being both young and below the minimum age for a driving licence);
  2. Age (being senior citizens);
  3. Gender (recorded in the imbalance between male and female cyclists);
  4. Disability, including both physical, mental and cognitive disabilities.

Duty to cooperate

At this stage, the complainant invites the council to formally respond by acknowledging the complaint and to informally respond with a follow-up plan, including measures which can be undertaken from street maintenance budgets and from Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levies, without requiring large additional funding from government.

The council must acknowledge that fear of cycling of itself is a substantial problem, over and above any physical or mental disabilities or other protected characteristics which may prevent people from cycling.

Acknowledgement is expected within 7 days and a full response is anticipated within 31 days

Selected examples of how people are discriminated against when cycling or attempting to cycle within Coventry.

Road network

  • Other than a few select locations, the road network in Coventry is deeply hostile to cycling, despite the Local Plan 2001 commitment that cycle routes should be “safe, comfortable, secure and direct, with special attention given to the needs of disabled people”.
  • The road network is equally hostile on side streets as it is on main roads. Cyclists who try to mitigate road danger by taking quieter streets can find them to be even more hostile due to the large prevalence of “rat running”, and the tendency of some motorists to tailgate and pass extremely close through these rat runs.
  • Cycling in Coventry is always a trade off between “comfort” (cycling closer to the kerb) and “safety” (cycling closer to the centre line, in the field of view, but frequently being bullied for doing so).
  • Whilst individual displays of bad driver behaviour can and sometimes are reported to West Midlands Police, a road network which encourages this behaviour, has to be the root cause of the problem, not just individual drivers.
  • The council has a responsibility to weed this behaviour out, and the best way to do this is by closing networks of through streets. For example, there is simply no need for through traffic in Craven Street – it should be a quiet residential street, which has a need both for residential access and access to the pubs, but there is simply no need for through traffic to be passing through here, often just trying to avoid the traffic lights and turning restrictions on the main roads which surround it.
  • Another example of a street which is heavily prone for rat running is Catherine Street in Hillfields. Again, there is no need for traffic to be cutting through here – there is a perfectly good dual carriageway in the form of the A444. All through traffic should be routed there, with local streets maintained strictly for local usage
  • The planning system has repeatedly failed to uphold existing policies to promote safe and secure cycling for all users (protected characteristic or not).

Obstructive gates

  • It is understood that the city is aware of the obstructions which are caused by unnecessary cycle gates, which delay able-bodied cyclists, and simply prevent users of many types of adapted cycles from passing through at all.
  • These gates are also a significant impediment to any cyclist with shopping or other baggage, whether they have a disability or not.
  • The cycle gates serve no useful physical purpose – they do not prevent motorcycles from finding a way in, nor do they provide any protection for pedestrians.
  • The council should accelerate its existing informal policy by removing these gates as rapidly as is reasonably possible, whilst working with West Midlands Police to combat any associated antisocial behaviour.

Parking

  • There are no facilities for on street parking of cycles on Craven Street, as is the norm on residential streets across the city. This is direct and quantifiable discrimination – should any resident require a disabled car parking space, then this can be marked out on the street.
  • There is no equivalent scheme for cyclists with disabilities – there is simply no way of applying for a blue badge without associating it with a motor vehicle, with associated number plates.
  • There is no protected legal status for the disabled person who does not have a car. This is inherently discriminatory, because it wrongly assumes that the only way to demonstrate a disabled need is through the blue badge scheme.
  • Cycle lane access points, corners, turning circles and other similarly sensitive parking areas are rarely enforced. This is an issue which affects pedestrians even more than it affects cyclists, and it also applies to bus stops.
  • There is equally no facility for the parking of mobility scooters on the street, which is noted to happen frequently on Craven Street by both residents and pub users.
  • There is no guaranteed provision of cycle parking either at or immediately adjacent to any high street retail facility. For example, although multiple cycle parking stands are available outside Earlsdon Co-op, there are no other such facilities the entire length of Earlsdon Street, including outside Lloyds pharmacy, which is used by the complainant.
  • There is no assumption of parking in any other city centre or suburban location – whilst the number of cycle parking stands has expanded in recent years in some space in some places, it is completely lacking in others – for example at the rear of West Orchard shopping centre.
  • Cycle parking is often provided without the provision of appropriate dropped kerbs.
  • There is no specific designated disabled cycle parking, nor is there specific cycle parking for tricycles, bicycles with trailers and other such adapted bicycles.

Reasonable Adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 specifically requires that councils make “reasonable adjustments”  in order to facilitate the needs of people with protected characteristics, and to reduce the negative impacts that they may experience of an environment which places them at a disadvantage.

Given the current funding environment, reasonable adjustments can and still must include the following:

  • The development of a network plan for a full system of routes, in anticipation that following the CWIS[1] and local devolution, funding for the system will come over time.
  • The development of a presumption of filtering[2], such that streets which are wide open to rat running are selectively closed off, in order to create a safe environment for residents, pedestrians, disabled users and cyclists alike. To date, the council has vehemently opposed tried and tested filtering techniques, and instead pursued a policy of shared space, which has been immensely destructive.
  • A moratorium on all “shared space” development, until a full safety audit of the existing schemes has been done.
  • Faster implementation and enforcement of 20mph limits across the city.
  • Rolling road maintenance to include measures such as filtering, cycle parking, and rearranging the street space to become more cycle friendly (for example by moving car parking further away from the kerb and installing cycle lanes).
  • The provision of additional cycle parking as and where it is needed – this is a very low cost operation.
  • The establishment of the means to request on street cycle parking, regardless of whether or not the applicant has a protected characteristic – this simply establishes parity with on street car parking.

[1] Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy 2016

[2] Formally known as “filtered permeability”; informally known as closing off rat runs or removal of through traffic

This was sent on 1st June 2016, with read receipt from the council on that day. Since then, 6 months on, there has been no further comment from the council. As of Monday 21/11, it has been sent again to Cllr Innes (portfolio holder) and Colin Knight (Highways).

2 thoughts on “Notice of Discrimination Served on Coventry Council

  1. Thank you so much for doing this.

    Cyclists are an abused minority, cyclists who are disabled, children, or just unwilling to risk their lives are actively persecuted by the current transport policy.

  2. I love this blog. Thanks for all you’re doing for Coventry cyclists (how about an anti glass campaign: who in hell is it sprinkling the stuff everywhere, a shatterable monster or what?!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *