08 August 2023

LSA addresses impact of UCI Cycling World Championships 2023 on those with disabilities

The UCI Cycling World Championships 2023 is being held in Glasgow from 3-13 August. This is a significant event which brings more than 8,000 cyclists from all over the world to compete at the highest level in 200 competitions. Whilst there is no doubt of the positive impact of this event for Glasgow due to the tourism it is bringing in, as well as the environmental impact as it is hoped to encourage more people to take up cycling, the negative impacts of the event cannot be ignored.

For those living in the city of Glasgow, the disruption brought on by road closures is significant. It is particularly disruptive for those living with disabilities as many of whom are finding themselves trapped in their own homes and unable to go into and travel around the city centre.

For those with visual impairments who may rely on learned routes where they are aware of potential dangers, the creation of new obstacles, blockage of paths that they may normally take, the inability of taxis to access the roads they live on and the change of bus routes leaves them unable to leave their homes safely. Vehicles being unable to pass through streets will also have a huge impact on those with mobility impairments, completely cutting people off from accessing support services, appointments or visiting friends or family.

As well as this, people who rely heavily on routines are forced into adapting to these disruptions and this can be a major adjustment for many neurodivergent people.

It is easy to forget that something that may simply present as a minor inconvenience could be a significant change to the life of someone with a disability. There is no doubt that this event has brought challenges due to the oversight on the part of event organisers and Glasgow City Council as to how road closures and disruption will impact on the needs of disabled people.

The Public Sector Equality places additional duties on Glasgow City Council along with other public bodies to have, amongst other things, due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality for disabled people. Public bodies must think about how policies may impact on people who are protected under the Equality Act. They have additional duties under the Human Rights Act not to act in a manner which breaches the convention rights of people their decisions impact.

Whilst it is understandable that the local authority would seek opportunities for the city to take part in events such as the UCI Cycling World Championships, substantial consideration must be given to how these events are likely to impact on residents, and in particular, those with disabilities. It is not enough for this impact to be an afterthought, and in fact, a practical assessment should be undertaken prior to implementation so it can be accurately seen where challenges may arise.

The Street Café plans for Glasgow and Avenues projects are two examples of where a practical assessment may benefit from being undertaken. These projects will force disabled people to walk down pavements which have been blocked by businesses, preventing those with visual or mobility impairments, for example, from safely navigating streets. In some cases, pedestrians are required to cross cycle lanes to get to bus stops which pose an obvious danger to anyone, but for those with disabilities in particular.

It is paramount that local authorities and public bodies bear in mind the needs of disabled people prior to undertaking any projects or events that are likely to be disruptive. At Legal Services Agency, we strive to uphold peoples’ rights and equality. If you are disabled and believe you have experienced discrimination because of this disability, please contact us on 0141 353 3354 to discuss this further.