The next time
you’re walking through a city, look down at your feet. You’ll probably see
different patterns and textures of paving at certain points such as dropped
kerbs, pedestrian crossings, flights of stairs, and around joint
pedestrian-cycle routes. Many of us don’t think twice about tactile paving
patterns as we go about our day, but they can be a lifesaver for blind and partially sighted
Read on to find out more about these indispensable features, and how they help to keep people safe every day.
The language of tactile paving
Each one of the various types of tactile paving gives a specific message to the person who steps on it. Raised blisters in a regular grid pattern alert you to the presence of a dropped kerb – a key accessibility measure for wheelchair users, but a dangerous hazard for those who can’t see well. An offset pattern of blisters marks the edge of a train platform, while lozenge shapes tell you that you’ve reached a tram or other on-street LRT (light rapid transport) route.
Meanwhile, horizontal rounded bars (corduroy) warn you of a hazard such as stairs, while vertical (guidance) bars show you where it’s safe to walk. Where walkers and cyclists share a pathway, you can also find bars used to demarcate the two sections. These keep blind and partially sighted pedestrians on the correct part of the pavement, out of the way of bikes.
Visual contrast is important, too. The majority of blind and partially sighted people have some degree of vision, so making the tactile paving stand out from its surroundings also helps them stay safe. That’s why a lot of the tactile paving you’ll see has a distinctive buff-yellow colour that’s designed to be easily visible. Meanwhile, red paving is used to designate controlled pedestrian crossings.
The UK government has provided extensive and helpful official guidance on tactile paving – you can read the whole document here. One key takeaway is that the patterns used should always be consistent with common practice in the UK. Tactile paving is a language and, like any language, it needs to be used correctly to get the right message across.
Tactile studs: flexible and cost-effective
Tactile paving is a crucial accessibility and safety aid that can be costly – and sometimes challenging – to implement. This is especially true if you have a limited budget, or need to adapt a heritage site or an area that is otherwise unsuitable for installing conventional paving.
Our range of tactile studs and warning strips provides a budget-friendly solution that allows you to put tactile patterns in place right away. They can be used as an interim measure, or as extra protection for areas off the beaten track that might not otherwise be fitted with tactile paving.
With a choice of brass and stainless steel, you can select the material that provides the best visual contrast with the existing pavement. You can also choose between a plain, polished stud top and a cross-hatched one for a non-slip grip, ensuring extra safety in wet or icy conditions.
Using tactile studs
These tactile studs are simple to retrofit and can be used on almost any surface. For an easy safety measure, affix them in the standard blister pattern to indicate a kerb, crossing or platform edge. You can also use them as a handy social distancing indicator, or to mark out a pathway, seating area or other designated zone.
Our 200mm and 400mm stainless steel warning strips can be used in the same way. You can deploy them like corduroy bars to mark a potential hazard, or as guidance bars to indicate the best place to walk. You can also use them to protect surfaces from wear and improve grip underfoot. These bars are compliant with government guidance on the use of tactile paving surfaces.
Do you want to see our tactile studs and bars in action? Have a look at our Whitfield Gardens case study. This busy square in Camden needed unobtrusive accessibility measures that would also help to protect its surfaces and street furniture. We used a combination of stainless steel tactile bars and anti-skate studs to create a comprehensive solution that doesn’t interfere with the square’s distinctive look and vibe.
At Studmarc, we’re always happy to advise on safety and accessibility solutions to fit your needs and budget. If you’d like to request more details about one of our products, discuss working together, or simply ask us a few questions, just get in touch.