This is why those bumps in the footpath exist.

Video by MWN

Sometimes I look around and realise I know frighteningly little about the world in which I live.

It’s shameful, really.

But the closer you look at those tiny things you typically ignore, the more you realise how smart people are, and how in their own, small ways, a lot of clever people have come up with a lot of invaluable ideas.

For example, this:

???? Image via iStock.

What are these... for?

I can't remember a time when they didn't exist and I didn't encounter them in my day to day life, but I've never stopped to think about why those bumps in the pavement are actually there. 

If I had to guess, the two words that come to mind are "traction" and "safety," although the complexity of my thoughts don't extend any further.


So I looked it up, and it turns out these bumps are so much more important than I'd realised.

They're to help individuals with disabilities navigate the city. 'Tactile paving' helps people with visual impairments find their way around, AND, to my immense surprise, there are different patterns on them to signify different situations.

In the above image, for example, the bumps tell a person with limited or no sight that there are stairs ahead. They're implemented sparingly and carefully, however, because a person with arthritis could find the surface painful to travel on. The bright colour of the bumps also alerts people with generally poor sight to a change in the condition of the pavement.

Offset dots, like those pictured below, mean there's a train platform ahead, while oblong shaped dots signify a tram platform.

Tactile paving on a train platform. Image via iStock.

Essentially, these bumps in the footpath that I've ignored my whole life, ensure that people of varying abilities are able to navigate their environment.

It takes a bunch of really clever engineers to make that happen.



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