All over Europe, well-meaning grooved lanes, designed to help guide the canes of blind people, slice through sidewalks. But invariably, these paths are blocked by bollards, public art, giant potted plants, café tables, parked cars, dumpsters, and all manner of other barriers — making them pointless. And in all of my travels, I’ve never actually seen anyone using these grooved lanes.
Accessibility is an important dimension of a caring society. But breaking up a sidewalk for a grooved path no one will use seems to me a feel-good token measure with no honest interest in actually helping those who can’t see. I’ve observed this across Europe, but it bothers me the most in drab urban zones like Athens, Glasgow, Naples, and here in Cardiff — where a stretch of nice, clean, uninterrupted sidewalk would be a calming visual relief.
How is it that towns in painful need of visual charm cut up their sidewalks at great expense, lay down these grooveways, and then — realizing no one is using them anyway — ignore them? What drives this waste of public funds? Can someone give me the backstory on these? Have you ever seen anyone actually using these grooves? Or please set me straight if I just don’t understand how these are really helpful. Thoughts?