Tactile surfaces

This article was published in 2002, in Newsletter 42.

In Newsletter 41 I reported that there had been a series of spills, probably into double figures, caused by the white line that segregates the sections of the shared use path in Shelford Road, Trumpington. The County Council is apparently refusing claims for compensation over these incidents, which I believe include a broken nose. As yet the Council has taken no steps to rectify the problem.

This white line is a serious danger to all those who are forced to cross it

Tactile surfaces are required under law to help blind and partially sighted pedestrians detect the edges of footways. They include ‘Pimple’ and ‘Corduroy’ slabs as well as the ‘Central Delineator Strip.’ This white line is required under the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (Statutory Instrument 1519 of 1994). The details of this are given in Chapter 5 of the DTLR publication ‘Guidance on the Use of Tactile Paving Surfaces’ (http://www.mobility-unit.dtlr.gov.uk/tactile/10.htm).

Image as described adjacent
The shape of a national standard central delineator strip (top) and of the sub-standard raised white stripe as measured beside Shelford Road (bottom). The steep edges can be dangerous in wet weather.

Although it could be deemed to be an offence to cross this line, as cycling is not permitted on the ‘footpath’, none of this cycle path is as wide as the recommended minimum of 2.0 m. At one point it is under 1.2 m, so clearly when passing a cyclist one or other is likely to be forced over the line. There are also often occasions when cars park across the cycle section.

We have done measurements of the profile of this line and believe it falls outside the defined specification. The specification is for a trapezoidal profile with a slope not exceeding 20 mm in 50 mm and with a maximum edge upstand of 6 mm. There are many points where this upstand is exceeded and several where the height reaches over 12 mm within 20 mm of the line edge.

The result of this sharp upstand is that when the surface is wet a cycle tyre may refuse to climb the edge and simply slide along resulting in a fall for the rider.

We believe the Council should not install sub-standard facilities, fail to correct reported defects, and then refuse to pay compensation. In its current state this line is a serious danger for all who are forced to cross it, especially in wet weather.

Jim Chisholm