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A safer City through new Accessible Pedestrian Systems
​The eThekwini Transport Authority has rolled out new safety
initiatives to assist road users, including those who are visually
impaired, when they need to cross roadways.
OVER the years, eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA) has successfully implemented new safety initiatives to assist road users with the overall aim of creating a safer and more accessible City.

One such initiative, in line with the vision for Go!Durban which is the City’s new integrated public transport network, is the installation of Accessible Pedestrian Systems (APS) where pedestrians need to cross roadways.

Senior Manager of the ETA Installation and Works Branch, Ashvir Harcharan says the future vision for transport in the City makes provision for both motorised and nonmotorized models including
pedestrian usage and is universally accessible for people with special needs. “The bigger vision is that all signalised intersections will use this same technology to assist pedestrians while crossing roadways,” he said.

These APS devices communicate information via audio or sound to pedestrians about the ‘walk’ and ‘don’t walk’ intervals at signalised intersections, to support pedestrians who are visually impaired. The APS unit emits a location tone that is intended to direct the visually impaired pedestrian to the pedestrian push button. The push button has a raised tactile arrow that aims to guide the pedestrian in the direction of the pedestrian crossing that vibrates when the pedestrian crossing is active with its green pedestrian signal.

Once the button is pressed, the road user must wait for the ‘walk’ tone, which is loud and has a different frequency to that of the other two tones (don’t walk and location). The ‘walk’ tone is configured to be played for the duration that the green pedestrian signal is displayed. Once the ‘walk’ period is completed, the ‘don’t walk’ tone is emitted to warn the road users that they should not begin crossing and to not step off the curb.

Harcharan said these APS devices were first implemented in the City in 2008 with a pilot at the intersection of Helen Joseph and Umbilo roads. Several APS installations have been completed, with
the focus of phase one of the installation being on the travel routes of the visually impaired, the CBD district as well as areas around hospitals, schools and shopping malls. During the second phase of APS installations, the branch introduced a ‘no touch’ pedestrian button.

This ‘no touch’ APS operates with all the characteristics of the conventional APS, but it attempts to mitigate vandalism and reduce false triggering of the pedestrian signal. The branch is currently in its third phase of implementation. In this phase, a ‘wait light’ on the button has been introduced, thereby providing the pedestrian with an indication that their call for a green man to cross is acknowledged.

chumisa.kalawe@durban.gov.za 
WEATHER

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