“Nothing will come of nothing.”—Shakespeare (King Lear)
Over the last seven months, Marie Hemingway, Keri Bunnell, and James Burberry from Copperleaf’s Customer Experience team in Europe, have been hard at work on a cause that is close to our hearts. As part of Copperleaf’s Random Acts of Delight (RAD) initiative, we worked pro bono with The Operational Research Society and Friends of Lucy’s Mill Bridge (FLMB) Community Interest Company, on a footbridge accessibility project.
The historic footbridge dates back to Shakespearean times and serves as an important link to the town centre for residents and tourists of Stratford, England. It also forms part of the 1.6 km Riverside Heritage Trail—a walking trail along the banks of the River Avon, which connects key tourist attractions such as Holy Trinity Church, Hall’s Croft, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
The bridge has steep steps on either side, making this vital crossing inaccessible to wheelchair users, those with mobility difficulties, families with pushchairs, the elderly, and cyclists. The objective of the project was to assess the commercial and economic feasibility of upgrading Lucy’s Mill Bridge to make it accessible to all users.
A Copperleaf Value Framework was developed to quantify the social, environmental, and economic benefits of upgrading the bridge. While the primary aim was to perform a cost benefit analysis of adding accessibility ramps to the existing bridge structure, the Copperleaf C55™ Decision Analytics solution was also used to evaluate other options, including aesthetic refurbishment of the bridge.
David Morgan, Business Development Consultant and member of FLMB, commented:
We are so appreciative of the professionalism Copperleaf has shown, and we are ever thankful for your interest in the bridge. The next few months will be key to making a decision on the bridge, and your work and how the report is presented will help our residents have their say and influence decision makers. From the very first contact with Copperleaf, to Keri’s first visit and walk around the river, to meeting Marie who did her own ‘reconnoitering’, your company was wonderful.
What is accessibility and why does it matter?
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a framework adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 that provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. It is underpinned by 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) which are increasingly being adopted by industry. SDG number 10 is ‘Reduce inequalities within and among countries’.
Unfortunately, there are still many people with various forms of disability who are marginalized and isolated because much of our infrastructure, transportation, and buildings have been designed primarily with able-bodied people in mind.
What options were considered?
Four investment alternatives were considered for accessibility investment at Lucy’s Mill Bridge:
- Do nothing – Everything remains as is. This will provide a baseline against which to measure the other investment alternatives.
- Access ramps – Addition of Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant accessibility ramps to the existing Lucy’s Mill Bridge structure.
- Access ramps and refurbishment – Addition of DDA compliant accessibility ramps to the existing Lucy’s Mill Bridge structure and aesthetic refurbishment of the bridge.
- New DDA compliant bridge – Construction of a new DDA compliant bridge in addition to Lucy’s Mill Bridge.
Bridging the gap
The analysis showed that there are clear benefits to implementing an accessibility investment in Lucy’s Mill Bridge via traditional methods or through emerging innovative funding and delivery partnership solutions.
Based on our findings, Copperleaf’s advice is to choose investment alternative #3, ‘Lucy’s Mill Bridge with Access Ramps and Aesthetic Refurbishment’. This combines good cost benefit results measured for accessibility, health, and economic benefits, coupled with qualitative factors related to heritage, public opinion, and potential flooding risk. Most importantly, it would provide an accessible and attractive key link on a waterway leisure and utility route for both tourists and residents in a popular area of the town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
As part of this pro bono project, the final independent report has been made publicly available, find the full report here.
To learn more about the origins of this project, check out our previous post. Copperleaf is looking to expand its pro bono project work. If you are a charitable organization struggling with how to optimize investment decision making, or carry out a cost benefits analysis, please get in touch.