For the sake of the visually impaired, UCSB is planning on building up the bumps that border bike paths.
Over Christmas break, the Physical Facilities and Maintenance Dept. plans to replace current strips of bump-covered tiles at intersections where bike paths meet pedestrian walkways with new sturdier concrete ones and add parallel-striped concrete before the bumps. The tiles serve to warn pedestrians, especially those who are visually impaired, that a bike path is ahead and they are about to cross a potentially dangerous intersection.
Robert Wright, superintendent of Physical Facilities and head of the project, said the tiles are breaking up from heavy machinery that runs over them on a regular basis and from being a major corridor of access for emergency vehicles. The project should create a uniform warning system in order to make the warning clear for visually disabled people.
“Right now, if you go around campus, you’ll see that different areas have different warning strips,” Wright said. “We’re working on standardizing it right now – certain warning strips only in front of bike paths and a different series of warning strips in front of roadways.”
Wright said the plans for the roadway strips have not yet been finalized.
The renovations will be covered by a state-funded building maintenance fund, and Wright estimated the project will cost roughly $3,000, but said the final cost will not be known until the project is completed.
Jeremy Johansen, a blind third-year mechanical engineering graduate student and an active member of the Associated Students Commission on Disability Access, said the issue of the bike path crossings has definitely come up within the disabled community on campus.
“The campus is a very friendly place except for the crossings – the crossings both for bicycles and for roadways. I think all students encounter some difficulty at one time or another trying to cross a very busy crossing area. If there’s no signal for where that bike lane is, it is unsafe. That’s what it comes down to,” Johansen said. “It is helpful for anybody to have a marker, a warning that says, ‘Oh, I’m walking over these bumpy things. Oh, there’s a change in terrain. Oh, I’m coming to a bike path or a roadway.’ Now, certainly people like myself are going to be impacted the most, but I think it’s more than just us.”
Wright said that while the current broken tiles are a hazard to all pedestrians and the renovation can help to prevent injury, the enhanced warning system will benefit the blind community the most. The new, larger bumps and striping, however, might serve as an inconvenience for skateboarders, Wright said.
Skateboarder and fifth-year philosophy major Brant Martin said he did not see the bumps as posing much of a problem.
“The bumps, these bumps, don’t bother me. They’re not big enough and there’s not that many. But I guess if there’s [striping] too, it’d suck for me, but it’s better for what they’re doing,” Martin said. “I don’t see a problem with it then. I can always stop, I guess. It’s not a big deal.”