PEDS is an advocacy group that provides, according to their website, “technical expertise, outreach and training that helps make streets safe and inviting places to walk.” Founded 20 years ago in Atlanta, PEDS works with local, regional and state governments, and other advocacy groups to make streets in the Atlanta region and elsewhere in Georgia safe and accessible to all pedestrians. PEDS provides walking audits, training workshops, advocacy and community outreach to accomplish its mission.
Last week, PEDS conducted a demonstration of an accessible work zone. Advertised as “Open House, er, uh Street,” the demonstration took place on the sidewalk of a state route in downtown Atlanta. Invited guests included city council members, state transportation professionals, public works officials, developers and other civic organizations. An accessible work zone is a sidewalk work zone that features a temporary pedestrian access route. This route is an alternate pathway to the closed sidewalk. People who are walking or using wheelchairs can safely travel through the alternate pathway, unimpeded, to their destination. “Continuous” and “detectable” describe features of ADA-compliant traffic control devices. Devices that interlock, without gaps in between, are considered continuous. As such, pedestrians, especially those with low vision, can safely follow, or detect, the interlocked devices with long canes or by trailing their hand over the smooth tops of the channelizers.
The demonstration took place on October 18-19, 2018, on the east side of West Peachtree Street NW, between 14th Street NE and 15th Street NE. Peachtree is a five-lane road here; traffic flows one-way, northbound. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) served as both sponsor and partner for the demonstration. On the morning of October 18, GDOT closed the east curb lane of Peachtree; the lane closure extended the whole block, from 14th to 15th Street. In addition to the cone line that closed the lane, GDOT provided lane closure signage and a directional arrow board.
PEDS also partnered with PSS, as PSS designs and manufactures ADA-compliant, accessible work-zone devices. For the demo, PSS provided the SafetyWall Longitudinal Channelizer, which also functions as a sidewalk closure barricade, and the BoardWalk Temporary Portable Modular RAMP and Platform. The demonstration simulated a sidewalk work area in the middle of the block that closed the sidewalk on the east side of the street. SafetyWall and BoardWalk redirected pedestrians to the alternate pathway, which took pedestrians across the curb, into the curb lane, and back to the sidewalk on the other side of the work area.
As shown in the pictures and layout, PSS closed the sidewalk with two interlocking SafetyWall Channelizers, which directed pedestrians to BoardWalk RAMP & Platform. BoardWalk provides a safe, continuous curb transition, a crucial element to an alternate pathway. Pedestrians with normal vision and ability to walk can usually negotiate a city curb. But a curb can be a hazard to those people with limited vision. Curbs also block access to people who use wheelchairs. With BoardWalk, all pedestrians can safely cross a curb. PSS separated the accessible path from the travel lane and from the construction area by installing interlocking SafetyWall Channelizers on each side of the path. Pedestrians traveled safely to the other BoardWalk RAMP & Platform, which in turn returned them safely to the sidewalk.
PEDS President and CEO Sally Flocks said of the event: “[PSS Vice President Sales & Marketing David McKee’s] presentation, together with the on-site observation [demonstration], was by far the most interesting and impactful part of the 1.5-day training we provided to GDOT professionals. I’m thrilled that city of Atlanta engineers participated as well. I learned a lot from the discussion between state and local professionals and have exchanged e-mails about next steps with the City Council member who came by on Thursday.”
Sidewalk construction work zones should feature accessible, safe, continuous, detectable guidance for all pedestrians, especially those with limited vision or mobility issues.