Council warned over ramps after man and guide dog walk onto road without realising

ON THE LEVEL: Matthew Goodacre, at the March Street and Lords Place intersection with his guide dog, is concerned about safety for people with visual impairments. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0405jkcross1
ON THE LEVEL: Matthew Goodacre, at the March Street and Lords Place intersection with his guide dog, is concerned about safety for people with visual impairments. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0405jkcross1

Upgraded pedestrian ramps and kerbs in Orange have been labelled safety risks for people with visual impairments.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has warned Orange City Council after a man and his guide dog walked onto the road at the corner of Sale and March streets unaware he had left the footpath.

Mobility instructor Adrian Mielke said the unnamed man and guide dog were lucky there was no traffic.

“I was working with the client and he had to cross the road,” he said.

“The slope on the kerb was so gradual he didn’t realise he’d gone on the road.”

Mr Mielke has called for tactile ground surface indicators [TGSIs] to be placed at the new ramps.

Mr Mielke said the gradient of some ramps was so gradual they did not meet Australian Standards for locations without TGSIs while other ramps did not have any gradient.

“At March Street and Lords Place there is no gradient whatsoever and it has been done up recently,” he said.

Mr Mielke helped prepare the Guide Dog NSW/ACT submission to council in which he said there were “serious safety implications” for people with vision impairments.

“It is fantastic that council is upgrading kerbs and footpaths around town. However, we have been experiencing problems with the new kerbs and uneven footpaths,” he said.

Orange resident Matthew Goodacre worked with Mr Mielke on the submission.

Mr Goodacre, who has a visual impairment, said he had also struggled with the new ramps as it was difficult to detect where the footpath met the road.

“You don’t even pick it up when you’re walking,” he said.

He said the TGSIs were important for safety.

“You can feel it whether you’ve got a guide dog or a cane,” he said.

Mayor Reg Kidd said council would improve the safety at the new ramps.

He said they would provide the TGSIs where required.

“That is a reasonable and cost effective solution. It is something that we have on the radar,” he said.

Cr Kidd said council was working to upgrade footpaths and intersections.

He said the upgraded ramps and kerbs did comply with safety standards.

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