Wheelchair user replaces green man at London road crossings


One of the new lights in London's Liverpool Street. Credit: @willnorman

A green wheelchair user signal has replaced a green man at five London road crossings in a bid to raise awareness of the capital’s disabled population. Transport for London (TfL) said the new symbols have been introduced near busy Tube stations with step-free access so thousands of people will see them every day. The signals were inspired by three-time Olympic champion rower Captain Pete Reed, who suffered a spinal stroke in 2019, which left him paralysed from the chest down. He wanted traffic signals to be representative of disabled people in a diverse city. TfL is also trialling the use of crossing controls activated by a mobile app or handheld device to help people unable to use push buttons.

The transport authority previously reflected diversity at crossings to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community around Trafalgar Square in 2016 and unveiled green woman signals at 20 locations across London in 2021. Captain Reed said: “As an Olympic athlete and naval officer, I spent my early adult life at the peak of human fitness. “In 2019, in one day everything changed for me. My life now as a full-time wheelchair user has a whole range of new demands, which can be dramatically helped by better access and transport for wheelchair users, just as there should also be for the wider disabled community. “I’m so delighted that the Mayor of London (Sadiq Khan) and TfL listened with open ears when I proposed these new wheelchair user traffic signals. The disabled community can and do offer so much value to all parts of society.

“I hope this visibility in mainstream life makes more people feel comfortable about getting out in the city and raising their voices where they see opportunity for positive change and collaboration.” Andy Lord, London’s transport commissioner, said: “It is vitally important that we do more to increase awareness of disabled Londoners across our city alongside continuing to improve services for people who have accessibility needs.” The signals are in the areas around Earl’s Court, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Tower Hill and Whitechapel stations. They were installed by Yunex Traffic for no cost ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Sunday.

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