SOS: Safe, Obvious, and Step-free

A child in a pink raincoat stands in a puddle in the footpath after the rain. Inclusive streets are safe, obvious and step-free.Safe, Obvious and Step-free choices are basic principles for inclusive places. Bridget Burdett makes the point very well in her slide presentation. When people feel unsafe or the route is too onerous, they just don’t make the trip. And that can mean a lost opportunity for exercise and socialisation. 

Bridget has distilled the issues into three words: Safe, Obvious and Step-free choices – the SOS solution. That doesn’t mean no steps. It doesn’t mean long winding ramps either. There are some good points in her short slideshow below.

Click to access Burdett-2Walk-and-Cycle-SOS.pdf

Descriptions of pictures and embedded text for the 13 slides are below.

Description of the 13 slides in the presentation

Slide 1: Title slide

Text: Safe, Obvious, Step-free: principles for inclusive places. By Bridget Burdett, MRCagney logo

Slide 2 – Text: Why inclusive access?

Quote: “If it’s too hard, and I know it’s too hard, I just stay home. I can’t risk being hurt because I’m not 100 percent to begin with.”

Our towns and cities are full of inaccessible infrastructure. This means that some peoples’ trips are more difficult, longer, more risky, and often those trips are not made if the effort is too much. MRCagney logo. 

Slide 3 – Text: SOS! Principles of inclusive access. An accessible place is safe, obvious, and has step-free choices. No images on this slide except MRCagney logo

Slide 4 – Text: Safe, obvious, step-free choices. Safe equals survivable speeds. Safe equals slow or separate. Safe includes feeling safe.

Image shows a Street view photograph of a raised pedestrian platform across a slip lane, at the intersection of Grey Street and Anzac Parade, Hamilton. Image: MRCagney logo

Slide 5 – Text: repeat of previous slide with added text: Who needs safe choices? Everyone. People who find it difficult to move, or who cannot see well or at all, are most sensitive to perceptions of safety. They make longer trips, with more effort, to avoid unsafe situations – or they stay home and sacrifice the opportunity to live their life.

Parents are also very aware of safety when thinking about letting their children walk (or cycle) by themselves. No images on this slide except MRCagney logo

Slide 6 – Text: We need to stop saying “there’s a perceived safety problem”. That statement gives smug transport engineers an out-clause. They might think “there’s not a real problem, there are no crashes…” 

People feeling unsafe is a real problem. It stops people walking. It needs to be addressed with slow, separated, obvious, step-free walking routes. No images on this slide except MRCagney logo

Slide 7 – Text: Safe, obvious, step-free choices

Obvious equals pedestrians, people on bikes and scooters, car and truck drivers have their place, or are obviously excluded. Equals digital, paper, on-street wayfinding that is visual, tactile, audible

Image shows a street view photograph of a marked footpath and zebra crossing through a car park, at The Base shopping centre in Hamilton. Image: MRCagney logo.

Slide 8 – Text: Repeat of previous slide with added text: Who needs obvious choices?

Many people find it difficult to navigate streets and places. Some examples include young children, some autistic people, some with learning disabilities, and some people who have had a stroke or other brain injury.

People who are blind or have low vision can not rely on eye contact in shared spaces. They need formal crossing points with pedestrian priority.  People who cannot read English need intuitive designs too.

Slide 9 – Text: Safe, obvious, step-free choices. Step free choices equals a safe and obvious step-free, obstacle-free route: no excessive diversions, no ‘back doors’

Image shows a street view photograph of a public plaza with steps and a ramp. The plaza is on the corner of Ward and Anglesea Streets in Hamilton. Image: MRCagney logo

Slide 10 – Repeat of previous slide with added text: Who needs step-free choices?

People who use devices with small wheels (wheelchairs, mobility scooters, children’s prams, skateboards) and people carting luggage can be stuck or can trip on routes that aren’t smooth.

People who are in pain, or who feel sick, and some pregnant women prefer smooth routes and ramps over steps and uneven surfaces. 

Slide 11 – Repeat of previous slide with different text: Note: not all infrastructure needs to be step-free! Steps are ok!

Some road crossings such as refuge islands or courtesy crossings are not obvious or safe for everyone. So long as there are SOS options between people’s origins and destinations, other infrastructure can be provided to add to people’s choices.

Slide 12 – Text: An inclusive place has safe, obvious, step-free choices

SOS in large text.  Caption: Victoria Street, Hamilton. Image shows street view of Victoria Street in Hamilton. There is a signalised pedestrian crossing with kerb-free access from the footpath to the street, and tactile paving at the edge between footpath and traffic lane.

Slide 13 – Last slide, text: Any questions or comments? Email  LinkedIn:  BridgetBurdett

There are six photographs including people using mobility scooters, a toddler in a forest, an older couple on a pier, a group of people in a fun run, a woman with a guide dog, and some people on the footpath next to a bus. Image: MRCagney