February 25, 2024

REVIEWING THE REAL INTENT OF THE TACTILE PAVEMENTS

The mounting number of complaints due to the accidents that occurred when pedestrians slipped on the tactile pavements installed in many sidewalks in Baguio City should be a signal for urban planners to review how the project is being implemented.

There is now a heightened awareness about what the tactile tiles are for unlike in the past when only a few knew what the tiles were for. But instead of discussing how these fixtures were able to make navigation easier for the visually-impaired, the spotlight is on these fixtures again for the wrong reasons – that they are causing more harm, which should not be the case.

The city government and the Department of Public Works and Highways have assured the public only has to get used to having these facilities as it is a globally-recognized tool meant to assist the differently-able.

The public recognizes this fact but the first time issues were raised on the safety of these fixtures, implementers of the project should have reviewed the project and adjusted it to conform to the actual situation. This means, the topography, the width of sidewalks, and the weather should have been considered before they proceeded with the installation of the tiles.

More importantly, there is a growing public concern if the quality of materials installed in city sidewalks is at par with materials installed in other urban centers.

Our understanding is that the differently-able sector has expressed support for the project, thinking too that the materials to be installed are of superior quality.

A common denominator in the complaints we gathered was the tiles were slippery especially when it rains. It is also unavoidable to step on the tiles because of the fact that some of Baguio’s sidewalks are narrow and therefore do not fit the international measurement that will allow smooth navigation of both the able and differently-able individuals.

In spite these reports, installation of the tiles proceeded, but in the process, more accidents have been reported. In fact, some got seriously injured which required them to undergo surgery and months to recuperate.

We disagree with the call of some sectors to remove all the tiles. It will only be a waste of public funds such as what the government did when they ordered removal of the palu-palo bricks on our sidewalks. Removing the tiles will also be to the disadvantage of the differently-able who have adjusted to walking on tactile pavements.

Our city officials and DPWH have assured the tiles will be replaced with something that is not slippery. They should have done this a long time ago.

The intention of help to the differently-able individuals is noble, but such goal must be inclusive by considering the needs of the other vulnerable sectors.

It is our hope the city government and the DPWH will not wait until more limbs are sacrificed before a judicious decision is made in the future when it can be done now.