How Can Accessible Pedestrian Signals Become Responsive to COVID-19?

How Can Accessible Pedestrian Signals Become Responsive to COVID-19?

How Can Accessible Pedestrian Signals Become Responsive to COVID-19?

 

In a world where COVID is still part of our lives, great cities face new challenges: maintaining services to citizens while limiting the spread of the pandemic. Among the population, blind and visually impaired persons are particularly vulnerable. More than other people, they need to touch things to find their bearings. They need to push the pedestrian button at traffic signals every day to know when to cross streets safely. And these surfaces are potentially contaminated. How to protect them? Contactless accessible pedestrian signals (APS) are perfectly COVID-19 responsive! We are going to review the solutions that already work in the world.

 

COVID-19 poses new challenges for the blind community

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, persons who are blind or have low vision face new risks and challenges. Visual impairment alone does not increase the risk to contract the disease. However, lifestyle requirements from being blind or visually impaired potentially increase exposure to the virus. 

First, they need to frequently touch surfaces to identify things, orient themselves and locate Controls for door openings, elevators, etc. Although they are essential for their safety, pushbuttons at accessible pedestrian signals also potentially transmit the disease. 

Because they cannot drive themselves, they frequently need to use public transportation which are crowded, or ride-sharing such as Uber or Lyft where sanitary practices are uncertain. While wearing a mask is okay for people with vision loss, other health measures are more difficult to follow, especially locating hand sanitizer stations in public venues or keeping physical distance from others. Moreover, they often need to be guided by holding someone’s elbow (elbows now used for sneezing and coughing).

It is important to mention that the biggest causes of blindness are old age, diabetes or other health conditions that make people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

 

COVID-19 responsive solutions with contactless accessible pedestrian signals

As you can see, coronavirus poses serious threats to people who live with a visual impairment. If you work for a public road authority, you will certainly be interested in technologies that allow you to activate accessible pedestrian signals (APS) touchless from a distance, without potentially spreading infections like COVID-19: 

In some European countries, such as France, Austria or the Czech Republic, there are remote control activation systems for accessible pedestrian signals. They consist in a handheld pushbutton which emits a radiofrequency to control the audible tone. The first advantage of this device is that pedestrians who are blind or have low vision can trigger the audible signal as they approach the intersection, without having to travel to the pushbutton location. It is particularly advantageous in unfamiliar places when they don’t know where the pushbutton is. They don’t have to deviate from their travel path, reducing the risk to lose their bearings.

In a world still affectd by COVID, remote activation is even more interesting for cities. Radio frequency is the most widely used technology for this purpose today. However, it requires regulatory compliance certifications which vary from a country to another. Since it became popular in smartphones around the world, Bluetooth is now considered the best technology to activate accessible pedestrian signals. The use of Bluetooth allows companies to develop smartphone applications to replace or complement low-tech remote controls.

In Scotland, a former guide dog instructor created Neatebox as he realized how difficult it was for people with visual impairments to find and reach the pushbutton on the pole. It consists in a smartphone app that triggers the audible tone. A similar device begins to be tested in Canada with the company Key2Access.

But one of the most promising solutions come from the France-based company Okeenea. The manufacturer has more than 25 years of experience in accessible pedestrian systems with touchless on demand activation with the use of a remote control or the MyMoveo smartphone app. With their new connected Accessible Pedestrian Signal aBeacon, Okeenea was the winner of the New York City’s Transportation Department’s Call for Innovation in 2018. This new generation of APS is installed in New York City and in testing now.

Automation of traffic signals to prevent COVID-19

Several municipalities have already made temporary changes to the way their pedestrian crossings work, reducing the need to touch the push-to-walk button at traffic lights. In normal conditions, pedestrians need to push the pedestrian button at traffic signals to tell the signals they are waiting to cross the road. Pedestrian buttons have been deactivated to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The traffic signals at these intersections have been reprogrammed to make pedestrian signals automatic. These measures taken in an exceptional context could prove the uselessness of these pushbuttons. 

However, many of them remain essential as they emit audible information about the status of the pedestrian signal when pressed. Audible indications cannot be automated because of noise pollution. If remote activation made sense before the pandemic, it makes even more sense now, when touching surfaces has been proven to transmit the coronavirus. Like other countries, bet on contactless accessible pedestrian signals to make blind people safe!

Want to know more on audible pedestrian signals? These articles are made for you:

How Do the Blind Safely Cross the Road?

How Cities in North America Communicate Efficiently about Accessible Pedestrian Signals: Good Examples to Follow

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Among the population, blind and visually impaired persons are particularly vulnerable. They need to push the pedestrian button at traffic signals every day to know when to cross streets safely. And these surfaces are potentially contaminated.

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Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

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The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

Smombies: the New Safety Challenge for Cities in the 21st Century

Smombies: the New Safety Challenge for Cities in the 21st Century

Smombies: the New Safety Challenge for Cities in the 21st Century

 

Never heard of smombies before? And yet you see them every day. Blending smartphone and zombie, this word describes a person who’s watching their phone while walking in the streets. The field of attention of a smartphone user being estimated at only 5% of a regular pedestrian’s, it’s easy to comprehend its dangers: falls, collisions with other pedestrians or vehicles can lead to potentially fatal accidents. In a world where 3.5 billion people own a smartphone, finding innovative solutions to solve this century’s challenge is now a priority for cities all over the world. Let’s have a look at this new issue! 

Smombies: a worrying phenomenon for road safety

Although smartphones are seen as helpful and useful by a lot of people including people with disabilities thanks to apps specifically designed to help them find their way such as Evelity, they can also cause damage for others such as smombies. Combining smartphone with zombie gives the perfect analogy to explain what smombies are. In this case, smartphones drain users of all their abilities and intelligence to turn them into brainless and potential living dead. Instead of being obsessed with eating brains like a proper zombie, smombies are obsessed with their phones. The digital era has impacted all of us and anybody can turn into a smombie. Walking in slow motion like a zombie set to attack his prey, the smombie keeps his head down to focus only on his smartphone. Other pedestrians or fellow smombies, impatient drivers, cyclists who keep weaving in and out of the traffic, excited dogs on a leash… don’t exist anymore and are not even included in their peripheral vision. Smombies only acknowledge what their smartphones tell them to. 

It’s a new form of self destruction that takes place, one that sets smombies in their own digital world and leaves them on the sides of the road (for those who are lucky enough to have survived crossing the road). 

Accidents due to smombies have become so frequent that some cities have decided to fine the trespassers. The city of Honolulu in Hawaii has drawn a fine of 35$ for first offenders and of 99$ for repeat offenders. 

Saving smombies

Cities work hard to make sure that pedestrians have a good and safe experience of their city but they constantly need to reinvent themselves in order to meet any problematic situation. Following the Vision Zero approach that focuses on reducing to nil the number of accidents and fatalities on the road, cities are rethinking road safety.

The city of Yamato in Japan has taken the radical decision to ban smombies. Pedestrians are not allowed to use their phones while walking. Even though no penalty is put in place, the city encourages people to use their common sense and to stop walking when they need to use their phones. 

Fortunately, solutions exist that enable to save smombies from themselves and let them be addicted to their phones at the same time. A few cities have decided to change the urban landscape accordingly implementing visible measures:

⊗ Chongqing and Hong Kong in China and Antwerp in Belgium introduced a sidewalk dedicated to phone users. Smombies have now their own special lane that separates them from regular pedestrians.

⊗ Seoul in South Korea installed warning signs on the pavement at dangerous intersections to prevent accidents.

⊗ Ilsan in South Korea used laser beams and flickering lights at crossings to make people look up before crossing.

⊗ Augsburg, Bodegraven and Cologne in Germany set up ground-level traffic lights directly embedded in the pavement to be seen by any distracted pedestrian.

Digital solutions are also being exploited and new patents are being filed. Innovative apps can detect obstacles and warn smombies of an immediate danger thanks to different types of alerts:

⊗ A screen that turns transparent.

⊗ A colored border on the screen.

⊗ A pop-up message.

⊗ Vibration.

⊗ Sound.

The app AMY created by French group RATP (the public transport company responsible for the Parisian region) can be downloaded on both Google Play and the Apple Store: thanks to a box installed at a crossing, an ultrasound is emitted that’s recognized by AMY. The app then alerts the pedestrian of a dangerous situation through vibration, sound and visual notification. The goal of these alerts is to make the phone user look up when there’s a potential danger. However, vibration and sound can function whether the user is looking at his phone or not and can alert any distracted pedestrian. It turns out that the device that endangers smombies is also the one that can save them. An ironic situation. 

The city of Mantes-la-Jolie in France (located to the west of Paris) combines the connected device aBeacon, developed by Okeenea Tech, and the app AMY to warn careless pedestrians before they cross the street. All the details of the solution can be found in this full article. A great approach of a city that guarantees the safety of all!

Smombies aren’t just for science fiction anymore

If smombies are now part of our century and our popular culture, there’s one person who has predicted their arrival as soon as the 1950s. Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury actually exploited the idea that technology could be misused in order to turn people into empty vessels and make them obedient  in his novel Fahrenheit 451.

Nowadays, the issue of smombies has become more and more important and pressing as it concerns every major city. Apps are currently being developed but will soon be used in smombies everyday lives. Whether cities implement solutions that change their urban landscape or invest in digital ones, smombies are now part of our society and our popular culture.

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The field of attention of a smartphone user being estimated at only 5% of a regular pedestrian’s, it’s easy to comprehend its dangers: falls, collisions with other pedestrians or vehicles can lead to potentially fatal accidents.

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Carole Martinez

Carole Martinez

Content Manager

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The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

Accessibility Toolkit: When Complete Streets Help People with Disabilities

Accessibility Toolkit: When Complete Streets Help People with Disabilities

Accessibility Toolkit: When Complete Streets Help People with Disabilities

 

After World War II, cars’ supremacy started to shape Northern American cities. Consequently men started to be more and more dependent on their personal vehicle to move around and roads were designed to the detriment of sidewalks, mass transit and bike trails. 

It was not until the early 1970s that some states like Oregon began to design the urban space with all users in mind to make transportation network safer and more efficient. This is how Complete Streets-like policy was born. Many jurisdictions have followed over the years.

Today, no less than 1,200 agencies at local, regional and state levels have adopted Complete Street policies in the United States. Depending on the jurisdiction, Complete Streets can be a non-binding resolution, incorporated into local transportation plans or a fully bidding law.

Meanwhile accessibility has never been such a strong challenge. According to recent studies, 1 adult in 4 lives with a disability which amounts to 61 million Americans (cdc.gov).

So what are Complete Streets policies and above all why do they matter for disabled people?

Complete Streets design elements

Streets are more and more congested. It can be hard for everyone to find their place, especially in city centers where pedestrians, bikes and motorized vehicles coexist. 

Complete Streets policies precisely aim at enabling safe use and support mobility for all users using various street design elements such as:

⊗ Pedestrian infrastructure: sidewalks, crosswalks, median crossing islands, curb extensions, pinchpoint, Accessible pedestrian Signals for visually impaired people, pedestrian wayfinding, greenery, and street furniture.

⊗ Traffic calming measures to lower speeds of vehicles: speed humps, speed tables, speed cushions, signage, and traffic lights.

⊗ Bicycle accommodations: protected or dedicated bicycle lanes, repair stations, and bicycle parking.

⊗ Public transit equipment: Bus Rapid Transit, bus pullouts, transit signal priority, bus shelters, and dedicated bus lanes.

Incomplete streets obstacles for disabled people

Cars’ supremacy left a legacy in Northern American cities. 

Car-centric roadways lead to uneven access to urban services. And it is all the more true for disabled people who most often cannot use cars. Cities that don’t offer Complete Streets measures in their busiest areas force citizens and especially disabled people to face huge challenges when getting around.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of what is causing difficulties to pedestrians with disabilities in “incomplete streets”-like designs:

⊗ Unpaved, broken, or disconnected surfaces

⊗ Lack of curb cuts and ramp

⊗ Ponding of stormwater and runoff streams near intersections

⊗ Lack of Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) at signalized intersections. This article goes into more details about this specific point.

⊗ Inadequate sidewalks or intersections design

⊗ Wide intersections with limited crossing time

⊗ Lack of escalators, elevators or ramps to overcome steps

⊗ Inaccessible bus stops

⊗ Large spaces without landmarks

⊗ Routes going nowhere

⊗ Inappropriate sidewalk obstacles

⊗ and the list goes on…

What benefits for disabled people?

Complete Streets design provides an environment where all street users, particularly the most vulnerable, can get around safely and efficiently. This means that regardless of the mode of transportation, the age, the ability, or the confidence level, streets are accessible, safe  and appropriate for the needs of all users. 

Ontario was the first Canadian state to adopt a Complete Streets policy to help disabled citizens navigate streets more efficiently. In 2017, Ontario’s Growth Plan encouraged equity by incorporating strong directives in order to build streets that meet the needs of all road users.

“In the design, refurbishment, or reconstruction of the existing and planned street network, a complete streets approach will be adopted that ensures the needs and safety of all road users are considered and appropriately accommodated.”

Moreover statistics show that pedestrian street activity increases support of local businesses and expands employment opportunities.

Streets are complete and accessible using mainly:

⊗ Tactile walking indicators;

⊗ Accessible Pedestrian Signals;

⊗ Push buttons accessible to wheelchair users;

⊗ Ramps and curb cuts

However, the legacy of years of valuing cars in Northern American society and the difficulty to change attitudes towards the most fragile people show that there is a lot of work to be done. 

Considering that major american cities have less than 1% of signalized intersections equipped with Accessible Pedestrian Signals, it leaves a lot of room for improvement!

Wondering which Accessible Pedestrian Signal to choose? Use the new APS comparator!

Find out more about this policy.

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Complete Streets design provides an environment where all street users, particularly the most vulnerable, can get around safely and efficiently.

This means that regardless of the mode of transportation, the age, the ability, or the confidence level, streets are accessible, safe  and appropriate for the needs of all users.

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

[INFOGRAPHIC] How the City of Ottawa Can Improve its Accessibility with APS?

[INFOGRAPHIC] How the City of Ottawa Can Improve its Accessibility with APS?

[INFOGRAPHIC]

How the City of Ottawa Can Improve its Accessibility with APS?

 

Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) are Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) compliant signals that help the blind and visually impaired cross the street safely relying on audio cues. They provide valuable assistance at complex or noisy pedestrian crossings when only relying on the traffic flow can prove to be at risk.

Their installation is an integral part of accessibility policies of major American and Canadian cities. Ottawa is one of those cities that put people first.

In a city where around 50,000 blind people have difficulties getting around, Ottawa accessibility design standards have been developed to encourage diversity, remove physical barriers and provide solutions embracing the principles of “universal design”.

These standards require APS to be provided where new pedestrian signals are being installed or where pedestrian signals are being replaced. However a fair amount of locations still remain unequipped and the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities highly dissuades blind people from crossing streets.

This infographic intents to highlight the importance of implementing more APS units in Ottawa.

For more information about Toronto APS policy, read this article:

How Do Blind People of Toronto Cross the Street Safely?

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In a city where around 50,000 blind people have difficulties getting around, Ottawa accessibility design standards have been developed to encourage diversity, remove physical barriers and provide solutions embracing the principles of “universal design”.

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

How Accessible Pedestrian Signals Can Help Chicago Be the ‘Most Inclusive City in the Nation’?

How Accessible Pedestrian Signals Can Help Chicago Be the ‘Most Inclusive City in the Nation’?

How Accessible Pedestrian Signals Can Help Chicago Be the ‘Most Inclusive City in the Nation’?

 

Chicago is the third most populated city in the United States ranking after New York and Los Angeles. To facilitate the movement of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists and thus prevent the city from plunging into chaos, 3,000 signalized traffic intersections have been set up throughout the city.

But have you ever wondered how do blind and partially sighted people know when it is safe to cross the street? 258,900 people have reported to live with visual disability in Illinois in 2019 yet only 11 intersections were equipped with Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) in that same year representing less than 1% of all signalized intersections.

What commitments the city has made to improve the mobility of thousands of people and thus make the city accessible to people of all abilities? And how can APS help the city global accessibility plan to go one step further?

 

Accessible Pedestrian Signal in Chicago: state of play

You might have noticed yellow housings with a raised arrow fixed on the pole of a few pedestrian crossings in Chicago. They are quite rare but yet of great help for visually impaired people. What are they exactly? They are called Accessible Pedestrian Signals. They provide information about the status of the pedestrian signal.

APS are composed of three main elements:

⊗ the pushbutton that emits a constant beeping sound in order to locate it

⊗ a tactile raised arrow that is lined up with the direction of travel on the crosswalk

⊗ audible walk indications according to national standard such an a rapid ticking sound when the WALK sign is on but it can be a speech message stating the street name etc.

For more details about APS definition and characteristics please read this article: Pedestrian Safety Are your Pedestrian Crossings Safe for Visually-Impaired and Blind People?

In compliance with the American with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) federal standards, these new devices must equip all newly constructed intersections equipped with pedestrian signals or pedestrian facilities undergoing construction activity.

But the City of Chicago does not set as an example in terms of pedestrian safety law abiding. In 2019 only 11 APS were found amongst the 3,000 signalized intersections of the city. A class-action lawsuit has even been filled in 2019 by the American Council of The Blind of Metropolitan Chicago and three blind Chicago-area residents for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Collectively,” the complaint states, “these obstacles severely compromise blind pedestrians’ ability to move about the City like their sighted counterparts do: safely, independently, expeditiously, and without fear.”

In response, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced a few months later that Chicago will be adding up to 100 new Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) at locations across the city in the next two years rising to around 3% the city equipement rate. As a comparison, New York City has a 2% APS equipment rate at the time of writing.

Since this declaration, no statistics on the number of APS have been published but there should already be around fifty of these new units in central Chicago according to 2019’s Mayor commitments.

Please refer to the map of the proposed APS location issued in July 2019.

Understand difficulties faced by blind people in Chicago

The installation of traffic lights in cities starting in 1923 in Chicago has enabled visually impaired people to finally leave their homes. At least to cross the street independently by listening to the traffic flow. However, recent urban development of large cities like Chicago makes it more and more difficult to rely only on traffic audio cues.

Here are some of the challenges that blind and partially sighted Chicagoans face on a daily basis when trying to get to the other side of the sidewalk:

⊗ cars don’t always stop behind the crosswalk

⊗ crossing time is different depending on the time of day

⊗ complex streets: routes can be straight, diagonal or cross multiple lanes

⊗ ambient noise : the noise of L cars overhead, plus buses, people, and bikes

⊗ weather condition of the Windy City: when it’s raining or windy, it can be hard to hear the sounds of the traffic

⊗ signal phases – when pedestrians get a few seconds head start before vehicle traffic starts – have caused confusion for blind pedestrians than only rely on traffic sound

⊗ cars are quieter

The difficulties of crossing noisy, busy, or complex streets without APS are indeed so severe that some blind pedestrians attempt to avoid risky intersections altogether by using indirect, longer routes, or by taking paratransit, even though paratransit must be arranged for 24-hours in advance.

APS is a cheap answer that addresses most of these issues.

How can APS systems be part of an Inclusive City global plan?

“We want to make Chicago the most inclusive city in the nation, period. No exceptions.” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at The Chicago Lighthouse, a social service agency that supports people with visual impairments.

The city’s goal is clear. To achieve this, the mayor has put in place several initiatives at the heart of the Vision Zero action plan. Vision Zero is a global growing program that aims at eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2026.

The 2017-2019 action plan states that the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) must commit to safe street for all Chicagoans best know as Complete Streets.

This transportation policy and design approach includes state recommended design elements that provide safer crossings, safer speeds, and safer streets for all users. These elements appear in Chicago‘s Pedestrian Plan and Complete Streets Design Guidelines as well as the Vision Zero action plan.

These elements include:

⊗ right-sized streets

⊗ pedestrian refuge islands

⊗ bump-outs

⊗ protected bike lanes

⊗ pedestrian countdown timers and leading pedestrian intervals

⊗ Accessible Pedestrian Signals

⊗ in-road state law stop for pedestrians signs

⊗ speed feedback signs

The installation of APS in Chicago must be though as a global pedestrian safety program to improve blind people’s accessibility. As part of the Vision Zero action plan, the implementation of APS in the city highlights the importance of prioritizing the health and safety of all roadway users.

More APS would definitely help Chicago score points to be recognized as the global reference in accessibility.

If you want to increase the number of APS units in Chicago or in another city and want to choose the best possible options, feel free to check the APS comparator. This tool will help you make a market research based on different APS technical features.

In line with the city’s commitments to make Chicago more inclusive, the city is starting to think about setting up a wayfinding system on the rail system to help blind, visually impaired and deafblind people navigate the street safely. The All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) would help reduce costs assistance and make the network easier.

One step further to be ‘the most inclusive city in the nation’.

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The installation of APS in Chicago must be though as a global pedestrian safety program to improve blind people’s accessibility. As part of the Vision Zero action plan, the implementation of APS in the city highlights the importance of prioritizing the health and safety of all roadway users.

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

City of Christchurch in New Zealand Sets Out Good Example to Help Blind People Cross the Street Safely

City of Christchurch in New Zealand Sets Out Good Example to Help Blind People Cross the Street Safely

City of Christchurch in New Zealand Sets Out Good Example to Help Blind People Cross the Street Safely

 

Latest statistics from 2013 estimated that there are 30,000 individuals in New Zealand affected by blindness or low vision. Among their day-to-day struggle: road crossing. The City of Christchurch, the 3rd largest city in New-Zealand, made a point of helping blind pedestrians at intersections and crossroads. 

How does the City of Christchurch has become a worldwide exemplary city in terms of inclusion of visually impaired people and more generally of people with disabilities? What concrete actions have been put in place to achieve this?

 

Helping blind people cross the street safely

 

National guidelines

 

A May 2015 guideline issued by the New Zealand Transport Agency – Guidelines for facilities for blind and vision impaired pedestrians 3rd Edition – provide best practice design and installation principles for pedestrian facilities to assist people with vision impairment. The document is the work of many different associations including the Blind Foundation that expressed the idea that there was a need for pedestrian facilities consistency throughout the country. This guideline was first produced in 1997 and this is the third revision.

The guideline sets out standards for pedestrian facility design information, tactile ground surface indicators (TGSI) and audible tactile traffic signals (ATTS) which have been applied by cities throughout New-Zealand including the City of Christchurch.

Regarding ATTS implementation, these guidelines state that: “ATTS shall be installed at all new or upgraded signalised intersections wherever traffic signals include pedestrian signals.”

 

Local policy

Following the publication of these national guidelines, the City of Christchurch has published local policies – Intersection & Pedestrian Crossing Design for People with Disabilities 2016 – to implement these guidelines at local level.

 

This Policy will apply to:

⊗ new intersections equipped with pedestrian crossings

⊗ replacement and repaired intersections with existing and/or new pedestrian crossings; this only applies to major works.

Suitable and complying facilities will be installed in the situations above to assist people with visual impairment to allow safe and secure crossing at intersections. 

According to the policy, these facilities will include, but are not limited to: 

⊗ Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI) or tactile pavers with contrasting colours,

⊗ Audible Tactile Traffic Signals (ATTS) for visually impaired pedestrians,

⊗ Measures to guide and ease the pedestrian’s journey,

⊗ Left turn slip lane, pedestrian crossings and islands (refuges), which may include zebra crossings, vertical deflection (e.g. a raised table) and traffic signals to slow down or stop vehicles,

⊗ Complying with design, location and colour of push button box for visually impaired persons and placing the buttons at a suitable height for wheelchair users.

⊗ Provide drop down kerbs and minimise footpath cambers to assist mobility impaired pedestrians.

⊗ Consider longer “green” periods for crossings close to certain facilities, e.g. retirement villages, hospitals, medical centres, etc. 

The City of Christchurch places a great emphasis on facilitating the crossing of pedestrian with disabilities and especially for the visually impaired. But the city does not stop there.

Inclusive Christchurch

 

The city offers other amenities and services to adapt to the entire population, even to those most in need.

The first service is an interactive map for people with motor or hearing disabilities. This map, available on the city’s website, allows them to find accessible toilets, hearing loops, parking and mobility scooter hire locations in Christchurch. This initiative proposed by the city supports people with specific needs in their travels and helps them to gain autonomy.

The second project aims at promoting an “inclusive, welcoming service model of community recreation”. KiwiAble is a network of people committed to getting more people with a disability involved in sport, recreation and leisure by breaking down barriers to participation. By providing a card free of charge, people living with disabilities are offered up to 50% discounts on different activities. The program also offers advices, promotes the concept of inclusive community and much more!

From a legal point of view, the city’s accessibility policy relies on a 2001 local policy – Equity and Access for People with Disabilities Policy – that conveys the following values:

⊗ Accessibility

⊗ Diversity

⊗ Equity

⊗ Inclusion

⊗ Human rights

⊗ Participation

 

The text stipulates in particular that “people with disabilities should not be prohibited from participation in their chosen recreational, social or employment activities because of architectural or attitudinal barriers.”

The City of Christchurch has demonstrated initiatives regarding accessibility regulations. Indeed, three years after this local policy, a state law has followed: the Building Act, 2004.

“All building work must comply with the Building Act 2004 by following the New Zealand Building Code. Under this Code, building and design features must allow people with disabilities to carry out normal activities and processes within them”.

In 2013, continuing along the accessibility path, the City of Christchurch has implemented a recovery plan called An Accessible City intended to create better streets for pedestrians, encourage cycling, enhance streetscapes, encourage bus travel, efficient access for vehicles to destinations within the central city, offer new wayfinding systems etc. 

According to this plan, all public buildings, roads and footpaths should have now been rebuilt to comply with the Building Act 2001 by following the New Zealand Building Code. This means more accessible and safe street and built environment for people with disabilities but also people with temporary mobility issue, older people and young children.

The city of Christchurch is an example in New Zealand and in the world for its accessibility policy. 

 

But what are the shapes of things to come in the following years? Maybe an audible tactile traffic signals remotely activatable to facilitate the crossing of visually impaired people? Or a digital wayfinding application for disabled people to guide them in complex venues. Only time will tell…

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The City of Christchurch places a great emphasis on facilitating the crossing of pedestrian with disabilities and especially for the visually impaired. But the city does not stop there.

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.