|October 25, 2002|
I strongly support the Public Rights Of Way Advisory committee's report's recommendations for inclusion of requirements for accessible pedestrian signals at traffic intersections and detectable edge warnings at train and subway platform edges and transitions between curb ramps and vehicular traffic streets.
Accessible pedestrian signals provide useful and meaningful equivalent access to the information provided by visual pedestrian signals at traffic intersections. I find them very useful and would like to see many more of them installed. Indeed, if a visual indication is warranted for sighted pedestrians who can see and evaluate traffic behavior at an intersection, then it is all the more warranted to provide that same information to blind pedestrians like myself at the same intersections, whose traditional reliance on audio cues from traffic is obsoleted to a great extent by intermittent traffic flows and today's much quieter vehicles. Individuals who do not consider these signals useful would be under no compulsion to use them, and therefore unaffected by their presence. I submit that if blind and visually impaired pedestrians do not need accessible pedestrian signals, then sighted pedestrians do not require visual pedestrian signals. I live near several traffic intersections where the flow of traffic is intermittent, making it normally difficult and occasionally impossible to discern what phase the traffic signal cycle is in. Installation of accessible pedestrian signals at these intersections would eliminate any such question, and greatly improve the safety of crossing these intersections for me and my fellow blind pedestrians.
Detectable edge warnings take the place of perpendicular drops at the ends of sidewalks which once made street crossing a routine matter for well-trained blind pedestrians. The present modification of many curbs to include curb ramps has often made it difficult for me and others like me to find the point at which the sidewalk and curb end and the street begins. Truncated dome detectable edge warnings provide a clear, distinct, unmistakable and safe means of notifying a blind pedestrian such as myself of a pending danger, namely the possibility or likelihood of perpendicular vehicular traffic. Correctly configured and installed detectable edge warnings should not impede the safe travel of other pedestrian groups, and can and do provide vital information which was previously readily available to blind pedestrians, and has been compromised by many current curb ramp installations.
The installation of detectable edge warnings at train and subway platform edges similarly provides necessary information to blind mass transit users that is also vital, and they serve an important role in enhancing the safety of blind passengers using these facilities. I have personally fallen from the platform at a local elevated railroad station to the tracks below, which I am certain would not have happened if there had been detectable edge warnings at the platform edges at that time.
Thank you for considering these comments and passing them on to the board. Please contact me via my reply address with any questions you may have concerning these issues.
John R. Jeavons
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