No matter where you are in the world, a lot of attention has to be paid to the sidewalk and sidestreet for all the jaywalkers out there. Attention also needs to be paid to signals, crosswalks, streetlights and road signs.
And when it comes to pedestrian safety, no one is more important than disabled people, specifically those with hindered vision.
The UK, however, has decided to take this one step further.
If you’re visiting London or any major UK city right now, or have visited before, you’ve probably seen those somewhat large dots on the sidewalk. What are those?
As Tom Scott, with assistance from the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People has explained in this very helpful video, this is what’s known as tactile paving.
He claims that it’s designed to help blind people or people with hindered vision to get around, and yet claims that those who are fully-sighted never notice it.
Tom shows us that in the UK, the dots at the curb mean there’s a crosswalk. When it’s red, that indicates the crosswalk has a mechanical traffic control attached to it. Where the knobby grid sits or drops closer to the street serves as a warning that the street is right next to it, and that a wheelchair ramp exists for crossing.
They explained that this design helps people with impaired vision to get around, such as those with bad central vision but good peripheral vision, and it’s also explained that totally blind falls below that threshold.
A sidewalk that saves lives
They also mentioned that there are different kinds of patterns depending on the situation. Offset dots, for example, mean that there’s a train stop up ahead, meaning that there’s a huge chasm that has the potential of killing you.
Meanwhile, oval shaped dots are used for a similar purpose, and usually mean that there’s a tram station up ahead, meaning that once again, there’s a danger of getting killed if you take one step too far.
Check out the video to learn more about tactile paving, and to see what it means for and how it helps blind people.