Not For Traction

Linda Caffee
August 2020

Recently we have had loads that required us to use our lift gate and pallet jack, and we had to cross the yellow bumps placed on the sidewalk.  I have always thought they were for traction or cleaning our feet off before entering a store.  Each time we take the pallet jack across these, the sound reminds me of riding a roller coaster, and we are climbing before the significant heart-racing drop on the other side.

How can that not bring a smile to your face?  But I was wrong; the bumps are not for traction.

Believe it or not, these truncated domes or tactile paving are there for the visually impaired. They are a warning to those that have partial sight or blind that there is a dangerous change ahead.  The domes come in different patterns to tell the blind what is ahead of them.  

The blister dots that we are most familiar with indicate the end of a sidewalk and that traffic lays ahead. If the dots were offset, they would warn of a ledge ahead or train tracks.  

Some stripes indicate staircases or steps ahead.  This is just an example of a few patterns of truncated domes.

The visually impaired have a lot more sensitivity in their feet or cane then I do with my eyes as I never paid enough attention to realize they were in all different shapes that the bumps have a meaning.

I will still smile as we pull or push our pallet jack across these dots, listen to the sound, imagine myself on a crazy roller coaster with a lot of swoops, and drop ahead.

It’s the little things that brighten the day.