Biomechanics for inclusive urban design: effects of tactile paving on older adults' gait when crossing the street
Publisher© 2011 Published by Elsevier Inc.
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CitationThies, S. B., Kenney, L. P. J., Howard, D., Nester, C., Ormerod, M., Newton, R., … MacLennan, H. (2011). Biomechanics for inclusive urban design: Effects of tactile paving on older adults’ gait when crossing the street. Journal of Biomechanics, 44(8), 1599–1604. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.12.016
In light of our ageing population it is important that the urban environment is easily accessible and hence supports older adults' independence. Tactile ‘blister’ paving was originally designed to provide guidance for visually impaired people at pedestrian crossings. However, as research links irregular surfaces to falls in older adults, such paving may have an adverse effect on older people. We investigated the effects of tactile paving on older adults' gait in a scenario closely resembling crossing the street. Gait analysis of 32 healthy older adults showed that tactile, as compared to smooth, paving increases the variability in timing of foot placement by 20%, thereby indicating a disturbance of the rhythmic gait pattern. Moreover, toe clearance during the swing phase increased by 7% on tactile paving, and the ability to stop upon cue from the traffic light was compromised. These results need to be viewed under the consideration of limitations associated with laboratory studies and real world analysis is needed to fully understand their implications for urban design.