New Research Project “Accessible Crossing Points on Main Traffic Arteries”
The Federal Ministry for Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) is promoting a research project devoted to “Accessible Crossing Points on Main Traffic Arteries – Design of dropped Kerbs and Ground Indicating Systems in Detail”. The project is being tackled by STUVA in collaboration with the Fachhochschule (University of Applied Sciences) Erfurt’s Institute for Transport and Space (IVR) as well as the Ingenieurbüro für Systemberatung und Planung GmbH (ISUP). The Federal Highways Research Institute (BASt) provides the expertise. In addition representatives for the interests of the handicapped are directly involved in the project through a parallel running accompanying project run by the Federal Competence Centre for Accessibility (BKB).
Designing barrier-free crossing points plays a decisive role for accessing and using road areas to ensure accessible links. As a result of the increasing number of elderly people and the in turn growth in the number of persons using walkers the group of people, who often find it difficult to negotiate say 3 cm high kerbs owing to impeded faculties (walking, sight) is on the up and up. Furthermore blind persons or those with impaired vision frequently express the view that a height of only 3 cm represents the lower limit of perceptibility when using a walking stick; especially since the desired lower limit is not met on account of installation tolerances as well as the accumulation of dirt in the gutter. The described dilemma is to be found in the details involved with designing the 3 cm high kerb. Those using a walking stick prefer a broken kerb if possible as it is easier to identify. People with wheel chairs or walkers on the other hand can more easily overcome rounded kerbs. Empirical data relating of the 3 cm high kerb being rounded and chamfered in order to ensure accessibility as well as identification as far as possible have so far not been obtained.
The aim of the project is to provide as far as possible standardised proposals and recommendations for application for designing crossing points (kerb and ground indicating systems) on main roads taking the requirements of people with impaired sight and mobility into account. This also means that existing systems should not be restricted in their effectiveness but to ensure that the number of people, who can take advantage of such systems, is increased (e.g. late-blind persons, users of guide dogs); in this connection negative effects for e.g. people restricted in their mobility must be avoided. The recommendations obtained from the project will be channelled into the code of practice. The application of accessibility and ensuring it becomes standard practice represent important elements for an inclusive, sustainable and in turn future-oriented design of road space taking equal participation as well as the consideration of limited financial resources into consideration.
The project commenced on August 1, 2011 and will run for 2 years. It will be monitored by a committee set up by the BASt in which planners, practicians, clients and affected persons will be represented.