Cape Town to Help Handicapped Pedestrians Commute

City assists visually and hearing impaired pedestrians at traffic lights

Visually and | or hearing impaired pedestrians will benefit from a City of Cape Town decision to equip all new traffic signal road intersections with a vibrating button which emits an audio signal when it is safe to cross.

The concept was launched on Wednesday 14 October 2009 at the test site in Durham Road, Salt River, outside the head office of the Association for the Blind. Councillor Elizabeth Thompson, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Roads and Stormwater officiated at the event.

The device, known as the "Audio Tactile Pedestrian Detector", originated in Australia where it has been used for more than 20 years to assist those who cannot see the green pedestrian crossing symbol at traffic lights.

Councillor Thompson said: "The Audio Tactile Pedestrian Detector is certainly a wonderful way of contributing to bring our people "Safely Home". I remain most distressed that our roads are so unsafe through bad driver behaviour, and that it is made even more difficult for pedestrians - especially those with sight or hearing impairments. This wonderful piece of technology will help to make crossing roads at major intersections for persons with such impairments, much easier."

The device provides both audio and tactile signals, indicating that the pedestrian green man symbol is lit and that it is therefore safe to cross the road. The device transmits an audible signal and will also vibrate when the pedestrian green man traffic light symbol is switched on.

Councillor Thompson added: "I am particularly intrigued by the capacity of the device to adapt to the needs of the blind and people with hearing impairments. Firstly there is an Arrow that shows the direction to cross and then there is both the vibration and the sound. The device is able to measure Ambient Noise and increase its own buzzer level always to be above the surrounding noise that might be a distraction."

"Our aim is to bring all people, motorists and pedestrians alike, safely home. I want to encourage people to use the intersection and call upon the driving public to remain vigilant and be courteous to pedestrians."

The City wants to include this type of device as standard fixture at all new traffic signal installations. All the traffic intersections in and around the new stadium in Green Point will also be equipped with this device. Where requested, the device can also be installed at existing intersections, funds permitting.

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