Ever seen a sidewalk marked with colored bumps that seemingly stretch the length of the walkway? Those tactile surfaces are there to help persons with disabilities (PWDs), such as blind pedestrians, navigate the city.
There were a number of these installed around Baguio City, but there have been some issues surrounding the tactile pavements. Some reckon they are potentially doing more harm than good. Reports came out that a number of people have slipped on these yellow strips.
The City of Baguio has since begun to address this concern, and the Public Information Office has shared the official statement from the LGU and its mayor, Benjamin Magalong.
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Magalong said that the materials used were “certified to be of international standards,” but authorities are now devising ways to make them less slippery. The LGU sees no need to remove these, but it will review the placements of said markings on narrow and slanted sidewalks.
The city will also push for an information drive on the proper use of these tactile surfaces by installing visible warning signs discouraging people from stepping on them, especially during rainy weather.
“After one and a half years, no incident of a PWD having accidents on tactile pavement has so far been reported. It is very beneficial and PWD-friendly,” said Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) head Samuel Aquino. “Anyone saying that this should be forgone because the visually impaired are just a minority should take heart. Notwithstanding their small number, they are part of the community and their general welfare must always be taken into account as with the rest of the population. After all, any innovation should be inclusive and for the general welfare and interest of the entire community.”
Baguio Federation of Organizations of Visually-Impaired Persons (BFOVIP) vice president Ever Basatan, meanwhile, affirmed the benefit of the tactile markings around the city that have since become part of the PWDs’ daily lives.
“We now call them ‘sure line’ and have come to depend on them for our mobility,” said Basatan.“Ako nga nakukulangan na, mabagal ang paglagay nila sa mga main roads at hindi ako makapaghintay dahil maganda para sa amin. Kapag may tactile, meron na kaming sinusundan, hindi na mahuhulog sa sidewalk, no swerving to the right or to the left, hindi na mauumpog sa poste at hindi na makakabunggo ng kapwa pedestrian.
“To the best of my knowledge, wala pa naman nadulas mula sa sector namin kasi pag naglalakad we make sure that we do it safely and with care. We are aware of the need to be careful around it lalo na kapag umuulan, madulas talaga kaya alalay lang,” Basatan added. “We trust that people with complete senses—I say with complete senses not able persons because we are also able, only differently abled because we do not have complete senses—can better take care of themselves, especially that they can see better than us. If they can see these yellow lanes, they should know that they are slippery and all they have to do is avoid them. Avoid rushing because it is really dangerous to those who are in a rush. Also, extra care is needed by the pregnant and elderly.”
While it may be true that the positioning of these markings in Baguio should be reviewed, perhaps we can all agree that these need to be integrated into public infrastructure, especially in Metro Manila, to promote mobility that’s inclusive for all types of pedestrians.