AN 'anxious' blind woman fears she will be hurt or even killed because of the increasing dangers on the city centre's cluttered streets.

Rachel Foylan, who is almost totally blind, fell over a cafe table two weeks ago in Crowngate shopping centre.

"I crashed into a table. Thank God - if it had been a door or a window nothing would have broken my fall," she said.

Worcester News: SQUEEZE: Rachel Foylan fell over in the Crowngate shopping centre SQUEEZE: Rachel Foylan fell over in the Crowngate shopping centre (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

The 69-year-old of Chatcombe Drive, Warndon, says tables and chairs have crept further out onto pavements since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hazards include al fresco dining areas, dodging bikes and electric scooters and weaving her way between A-boards, umbrellas and delivery drivers blocking footpaths.

The grandmother is calling for urgent action by shop managers and council officials asking them to complete 'a blindfold challenge'.

Sight Concern Worcestershire's chief executive Anne Eyre says Mrs Foylan's experiences reflect those of other blind or partially sighted people and, while welcoming cafe culture, the city centre must not become 'an assault course'.

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Mrs Foylan, who relies on a guide dog, fell into a table near Primark in Crowngate, describing the area as a 'bottleneck'.

However, she stresses she is not against tables and chairs being outside and understands business owners have to make a living. 

Worcester News: TIGHT: A bottleneck at Bottles Wine Bar TIGHT: A bottleneck at Bottles Wine Bar (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

She also says New Street is far too narrow for tables and chairs while St Swithin's Street, Broad Street and Mealcheapen Street pose problems.

She feels these obstacles force her and guide dog, Paudy, into the road where they are at risk of being hit by vehicles.

"Not all people are kind and generous to blind people. I get abuse from people. The language is horrendous," she said.

Robbed of her sight by glaucoma, all Mrs Foylan can see are faint shadows.

"You don't even hear the electric scooters until they're on top of you," said Mrs Foylan. 

One scooter came so close to her she thought she was 'going to have a heart attack'.

"I screamed. I try not to use bad language - but I shouted 'you idiot!' He was going very fast.

"I'm born and bred in Worcester but there are parts of the city I just would not go."

Fighting back tears, she added: "I'm really, really anxious. My deepest concern is that someone is going to get killed."

A spokesperson for Crowngate said: “Accessibility is a priority for us both inside and outside the centre and we always take any feedback from customers seriously and investigate any issues raised.”

A Worcester City Council spokesman said it was sorry to hear Mrs Foylan’s story and invited her to contact them. 

“We also fund the AccessAble service, which provides advice and information for disabled people living in or visiting Worcester at

“Cafes, restaurants and pubs that wish to have chairs and tables on the public highway outside their premises have to obtain a licence under the national Pavement Licensing legislation, introduced by the Government during the pandemic to support businesses re-opening to the public.

“Worcester City Council processes these licence applications, and one of the main considerations is the balancing of the needs of different users of the pavement, including people whose sight is impaired.”