Traffic For My Non UK Friends

A couple of people have asked on Twitter how blind people deal with traffic in the UK. They get very confused, so for most of you this will be things we read already, but for anyone not living in the UK, i hope this post will explain our traffic.

I’m not even sure where to start. If you’re walking along a footpath, for example, the flow of traffic is either on your left or right. This is called the “guiding road” if you’re a guide dog owner, and probably for a cane user too, but i’ve never heard of it until i became a guide dog owner. Anyway this should be always on your left or right as you walk along and if you are crossing the street, you must try not to veer in to it.

Whenever we would cross the street, if there is no crossing point, we would generally go until the kerb straightened out. This is called Indenting. Guide dogs here are taught if it is a rounded kerb, to indent round the corner until it straightens out, and then we would tell them to go up to the kerb. Usually we would cross the street when the traffic quietens down, or else some kind stranger helps us across the road.

Some of our crossings are zebra crossings where they are painted with black and white stripes. Traffic is meant to stop when you step on to it as you have the right of way, but not all cars stop. In this case, i would wait until the traffic has totally stopped, and you can just hear the engines. Usually the way Zebras work is one side will stop and then there is an island in the middle where the other side will top when you are onthe island. Somezebra crossings are staggered, which means that the island in the middle isn’t just a straight over, they can have roads going off the islands, so you have to pick the crossing which takes you to where you want to go.

Some of the crossings are controled crossings which means that they have a button on them. The crossing will either beep if it’s safe to go, or else there are these little cones on the boxes which spin when the green man is up and it’s safe to go.

For roundabouts, we generally are taught to avoid crossing directly at a roundabout as it’s super busy usually there. So if we can, we are taught to indent up a little before crossing so that you can avoid the roundabout.

Finally, some areas are introducing schemes called shared surfaces, where there is no actual kerbs, and the idea is that the drivers and pedestrians have to actually use eye contact to decide who has the right of way. As you can imagine, this is pretty scary so there is a lot of campaigning to get that stopped, but some parts of the UK have them. The counscil where i am in Northern Ireland want to have 25 millimetre kerbs installed to “calm the traffic” or something stupid. So again, there is a lot of campaigning to stop that.

Hopefully i’ve explained as best i can about traffic and the way roads work for a blind person. If you need any more information, just comment away and i’ll try to answer as best i can :).

Sorry for my UK friends who know all this already :).