4.1. Vehicular Access.
Especially in one-off or rare visits, visually impaired people are more likely to experience challenges in independently locating the entrances of public institutions. As such, we are more likely to be reliant on a ‘lift’ or taxi in accessing the approach to the institution.
This means that drop-off points for disabled people (including visually impaired people) should be as close as possible to the main entrance.
This also means that all vehicles carrying disabled people should be facilitated in parking as close to the main activity area as possible. If a vehicle does not have a blue badge, consideration should be given to having a temporary day-ticketing system available to supplement the blue-badge system.
Note: bollards, concrete globes, etc., if used at all, should be kept well away from pedestrian desire-lines, since they are liable to be an injury-hazzard to visually impaired pedestrians, and they provide no useful wayfinding assistance for us. Bollard areas should also be boundaried by differential surfacing such as compounded gravel or woodchip, etc.
As an alternative to bollards, globes, etc., we would always encourage the use of raised beds to achieve the same function of restricting vehicular access.
4.2. E-Vehicle Charging Points.
EV charging points (including the positioning of cables) should be located so as to never create an obstacle or trip hazard to pedestrians, including people coming to and from their parked cars.
In all car-parks, there should be a segregated footpath, with adequate clear width, going around the interior perimeter. For wheelchair access, this should be delineated by differential surfacing rather than being delineated by an upstanding kerb (see Section 4.6).
As such, positioning of EV charging points should not interfere with clear widths of the pedestrian footways around the car-park’s interior perimeter. Where EV charging points are between the parked car and the perimeter wall, this either requires the cables to be routed a minimum of 2.4m above the footpath, or else, that the cable be routed under the footpath to the charging point. Another alternative for chargers between the parked car and the perimeter wall is that there be a stand-alone charging point between the parked car and the footpath, leaving sufficient room on either side for passengers and drivers to access the perimeter footpath from their car.
Positioning of EV charging points beside (i.e., between) parked cars guarantees that the charging point will not be an obstacle for pedestrians, but this necessarily reduces the number of available carparking spaces.
4.3. Safe and Segregated Pedestrian Areas.
There should never be shared space between pedestrians and vehicles (including bicycles). Ideally, pedestrians need to be segregated from traffic by a front-facing upstanding kerb of 125mm in height. In such cases, dished crossing points facilitate wheelchair-users as well as visually impaired people.
Where the width of a footpath is too narrow to adequately facilitate wheelchair access, or where pedestrian volumes are so high that pedestrians have de facto priority in the carriageway space, differential surfacing (see Section 4.6) is VVI’s recommendation as being the safest design.
Where there are designated crossings of a driveway or carriageway, and the footway is kerbed, the crossings must be dished so that they are more easily detectable by visually impaired people, and equally usable by wheelchair-users. Blistered tactile should run from the inshore to the dish of each crossing.
In such contexts, our preference is for crossings with audio signals (cf. Holmes Report, 2015), but we recognise that in most private or enclosed settings this will not apply, for reasons of low traffic volume, and heritage status, etc.
There is a recent trend towards “raised”, or “table” crossings. Many of our members find these dangerous, because they are liable to inadvertently twist their ankle or lose their balance on the edges of such crossings. Corduroy strips are inadequate delineators, generally, including in the case of raised crossings. For this reason, we see raised or tabled crossings as being, albeit inadvertently, disablement by design.
4.5. Bicycle Access.
Bicycle stands should be provided at car-parks, including bicycle-stands that facilitate tandems. Cyclists should never have to cross a pedestrian area in order to park a bicycle. Conversely, bicycle stands should never impinge on a pedestrian desire-line or designated pathway.
4.6. Differential Surfacing as Wayfinding and Delineator.
Especially in narrower roadways, or leading up to entrances, and at public transport stops, we recommend underfoot wayfinding features which can be best described as ‘differential surfacing’.
The key point here is not necessarily a difference in materials, but a difference in finish, so that there exists contrasting underfoot surface types which can guide a visually impaired person.
4.6B. Paths Through Greenery.
In outdoor settings, by default, there already often exists the smooth footway and rougher areas outside the footways, in paths through grassy areas, such as in parks or graveyards, etc. Where footways meet foliage borders, there should be a lipped delineation so that long-cane users will not experience snagging. A 20mm trim (or lipped border) should be sufficient for this purpose.
Where there currently are no footways where people are expected to walk through cobbled or grassy areas, there should be smooth paths with lipped edges to facilitate easy passage of disabled people.
4.6C. Differential Surfacing of Stone Paving.
In open plazas, where raised beds are not used (as recommended above), differential surfacing, with smooth footpaths differentiated from other spaces (e.g., small cobble surfacing, is the best alternative. An example of a type of differential surfacing is to be found at the front square of Trinity College Dublin – although we would recommend smoother cobbles to mitigate against snagging of long canes, or else a lip or trim for a long cane to detect along the edges of the paths.
Similarly, although shared space should be avoided where possible, best practice is to keep the footpath smooth, and the carriageway less smooth, e.g., by use of small cobbles. In such cases, crossings should also be smooth. This type of differential surfacing not only lets a visually impaired person know when a vehicle (bicycle or car) is approaching, but also gives underfoot guidance in crossing a carriageway.
In street settings, examples of such differential surfacing are to be found at South William Street (Dublin 2), and Georges Street (Dunleary); however, it should be noted that in William Street, the effect is an accidental result of erosion of asphalt, and incomplete; and in George’s Street, the differential surfacing is over-used, and accompanied by disabling features.
4.6D. Inshore Guidance in Some Outdoor Settings.
Within pedestrian zones, there is often great advantage in using another type of differential surfacing, for example, as recommended in the following contexts:
- The softer surface should lead from exit points to adjacent landmark points, such as steps/ramps/lifts, upstanding wayfinding features (such as raised beds), and public transport pick-up points if they are very close (e.g., within 50 meters of the building’s entrance). This also means that passengers disembarking from such public transport points can easily find their way to the entrances.
- There are a number of possible options for materials to be used in this type of differential surfacing. It must be an an all-weather, softer, slightly springier, surface, such as matting, or heavy-duty rubber-based surfaces for footways. We have found examples of such differential surfacing in Berlin.