«Tactile city» paving leads to trouble

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An effort to make Riga more navigable for blind and partially-sighted people has come under scrutiny after members of public pointed out inconsistencies and potential dangers in the way the scheme has been implemented, reported Latvian Radio's Māra Rozenberga Thursday. 

Social media users were first to point out instances of textured paving stones - which can be followed by touch - leading into billboards, taking sudden and confusing turns or skirting dangerously close to traffic and other hazards. 

"It's intended that the partially sighted can follow the line using a stick," explained Jurgis Briedis of the the 'Apeirons' disability environmental consultancy.

But at a bus stop near Gertrudes street and Dzirnavu streets, the tactile path leads into trouble.

"Probably they would collide with the glass," said Briedis.

At another location, people using the tactile route would almost certainly collide with a large advertising pole.

"Of course it should not be like this. These poles are the most dangerous things. You have to be able to trust that the guide path is safe," Briedis said.

Ilze Dimante, a spokeswoman for Riga City Council's traffic department said advice was now being sought from Apeirons "to identify weak spots" in the new infrastrcture - but in the numerous cases already in place, that will mean digging up the freshly-laid cobblestones and starting again.

With the lengthy roadworks on several key Riga streets already the favorite topic of complaint among Riga residents, the prospect of yet more works is unlikely to quell public disquiet.


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