Kristal Platt, M.S.
|October 27, 2002|
Dear Members of the Access Board:
I was trained under sleep shades fifteen years ago to use a white cane. At that time, I would not have supported the idea of accessible pedestrian signals, but much has changed in the past fifteen years. Today it seems roads are much wider , traffic is much heavier, and automobiles are much quieter and faster than ever before. Today there is more ambient noise with construction (including road construction), airplanes, emergency vehicles, and other municipal vehicles making listening for traffic noises more difficult than in the past. Today there seems to be a general disregard for laws, including coming to a complete stop before turning right on a red light, and the fundamental law of stopping at a red light. Of course, accessible pedestrian signals will not protect all pedestrians from drivers who violate traffic laws, but it will help take some of the "guess work" out of a blind person's decisions about when and where to cross streets.
When I learned cane travel we were taught that if we were uncertain of when to cross an intersection, we should simply wait for another cycle of the light. This is no longer a realistic or safe strategy as today, many times the traffic cycle lengths and lane turn signals vary depending upon traffic volume, time of day, etc. Again, ambient noises may interfere with the ability to cross for multiple walk cycles.
I consider myself to be a proficient traveler using buses, cabs, and private automobiles; still my feet are my primary mode of transportation. I do not feel I can walk as safely today. Perhaps fifteen years ago were the "Good Old Days" or maybe the "Dark Ages"; in either case, things have changed and unless we can adapt and change to manage the differences in the environment, the potential alternatives are literally risk-taking behaviors. Therefore I support the recommendations made by the Public Right of Way Advisory Committee to the U.S. Access Board regarding accessible pedestrian signals and detectable warnings.
Kristal Platt, M.S.
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