It’s not easy being a blind New Yorker.
Recently, with the influx of both road and building construction, it’s been even more difficult for blind pedestrians to use their other senses to navigate New York City, according to the New York Times.
Lighthouse International, a group advocating for the rights of visually impaired people, estimates that 60,000 New York City residents are blind and more than 360,000 are visually impaired.
These residents navigate the city by relying on the mental maps they’ve contrived and their other four senses. But lately, new bike lanes, pedestrian plazas, large construction projects, and even quiet vehicles like hybrid cars and bicycles are throwing blind pedestrians for a loop when they try to cross what they think is a street.
City Councilman James Vacca has voiced concern over the city’s “hastiness” in renovating and developing streets.
Vacca, whose father was blind, is a member of the City Council’s transportation committee.
“Their security is rooted in familiarity,” Vacca said to the NYT. “There has to be a reorientation. I think that’s something we’ve taken for granted.”
Groups like Lighthouse and pedestrian safety group PASS Coalition have lobbied for more blind-friendly additions to NYC’s streets, like accessible pedestrian signals and bumpy warning strips at the end of sidewalks.
These efforts seem to be working. NYC transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told the NYT that the city has already installed these signals at “dozens of intersections,” and there is a law now in place that requires a minimum of 25 signals to be installed each year.
But New York City has more than 12,000 intersections, according to the NYT. So there is still lots of work to be done before the city can be deemed accessible for the visually impaired.
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