Design FAIL: Indonesian city’s sidewalk features tactile paving strip that guides blind… directly into sewage canal

Photo: Valen Tino / Facebook
Photo: Valen Tino / Facebook

The Indonesian government unfortunately still has a long way to go when it comes to making life easier for both pedestrians and people with disabilities, and not just in terms of infrastructure but also general awareness. Only a lack of concern for those with disabilities (and common sense) could lead to something like this:

👣saat membangun fasilitas bagi pejalan kaki dan guiding block (garis pemandu) bagi disabilitas tuna netra…hasilnya…

Posted by Koalisi Pejalan Kaki on Friday, January 5, 2018

This viral photo was taken by Facebook user Valen Tino and reposted by Koalisi Pejalan Kaki, a pedestrian rights advocacy group. It shows a sidewalk in the East Java city of Mojokerto that features tactile paving blocks meant to safely guide the blind (which is great) that lead directly to a giant opening over a sewage canal (which is, obviously, very bad).

“Already there is no more work (being done on the sidewalk) but it still leads directly to the canal,” Valen told Detik on Saturday.

In other words, the opening is not there due to damage to the sidewalk or because construction is still ongoing but simply because that is how it was designed.

While we don’t believe that the Mojokerto government nor the contractors they hired to build the sidewalk intended to create a death trap for the blind (and we have not seen any reports of injuries at the site) it is, at the very least, a total failure of planning and design – the guiding blocks are even painted black instead of the usual bright yellow – a color chosen to make them easy to spot for the visually impaired.

Disabled Indonesians have achieved many amazing things. In September, for example, the country’s athletes triumphed at the ASEAN Para Games, emerging as the overall champions with 126 gold medals. But the government needs to do a lot more to help its disabled citizens achieve the quality of life they deserve.  In fact, President Joko Widodo signed a law mandating the establishment of a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities back in April 2016, but the commission has yet to be established. 

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