|September 17, 2002|
I write to comment on the proposed audible traffic signals and detectable warnings:
The proposal to install audible traffic signals at all intersections is excessive and would cause more harm than good because: with such a stringent requirement the economic burden would be too high; each signal costs approximately $650 and thus four times that figure is $2600 (rounded) for each intersection; such then, would cause decision makers to replace traffic signals with stop signs leading to less safety for pedestrian travel whether by blind or sighted pedestrians.
The need for audible traffic signals needs to be determined by criteria regarding complexity of intersections and not by the presence of a controlled intersection as it appears in the current draft proposal. Criteria need to be developed to determine where traffic patterns are complex enough that an audio cue would signal the pedestrian that the walk light is on (notice only indicating that the light has changed, not determining when it is safe to cross); signals can only indicate status of control lights and not safety factors such as moving vehicles.
Such criteria need to be developed with the assistance of competent blind pedestrians who can assist the Board in identifying type of traffic patterns were the audible cue would be helpful such as intersections where traffic is constantly moving in more than one direction.
Criteria would eliminate installation of many audible signals thus keeping economics of using such devices within costs that local jurisdictions may consider and thus keeping controlled intersections which are most safe for pedestrian traffic since vehicles are required to remain stopped for a given period of time.
In terms of locator audio cues: These can be eliminated as push buttons can be located on the light signal pole located near the intersection. Adding additional noise is not desirable since there are already many noises to sort through while traveling depending on audio cues when visual cues are not available. We who are blind are most safe when we can distinguish between all the varying environmental cues and adding more makes discriminating needed sounds more difficult thus making travel less safe. We need to keep noise from beeping and buzzing at a minimum.
With regard to detectable warnings, these are only necessary where gradient is 15 degree slope or less, leading into an area where vehicles are moving. Such detectable warnings other places are not necessary as edges are quite detectable by canes and dogs are trained to stop when walkways change in elevation such as stairs or any other change in level walking surface.
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