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Obstacles on pavements will affect most users. They restrict the space for moving along and passing other users. They create hazards for unwary, unobservant and, more particularly, visually impaired people.

Obstacles should leave a minimum pavement width of 1200mm. This could be 1000mm if it is a narrow item, such as a post or pole. This will cater for most wheelchairs, scooters and double buggies. Many (but not all) wheelchairs can pass through a gap that is 800mm wide but this may be too narrow for some children's buggies.

Objects should not be temporarily repositioned without tactile and visible warnings. This is particularly important for people with visual impairments who have got used to using the route in its current situation. Fencing around temporary works, particularly the mesh types, can be virtually invisible under some lighting conditions. At the same time they camouflage the works behind them. Wide, red and white striped boards need to be fixed continuously at heights between 1000mm and 1600mm and maintained in position during the works.


Bollards should be up to waist height so that people walk into them, rather than tumbling over them. To stop people walking into them, they should have a band of contrasting tone and colour near their top and they should be clearly seen against their surroundings.

Posts and columns should have a similar band of contrasting tone and colour around them at a suitable height to maximise their visibility.


People with vision impairments who use a white cane for detecting routes and hazards need edges to tap against. This means that they will tend to use the front or back edge of a pavement. Obstacles should be kept clear from these areas. This applies to everything up to a height of 2000mm. Overhanging bushes will give an enormous shock if walked into.

Steps and edges in the direction of travel on paths need to be marked with a contrasting 50mm band on the top surface.

The Mobility Unit of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) published guide documents on tactile paving and other provisions on the highway. For instance, pink or red tactile paving should only be used at controlled crossings. The highway includes both roads and pavements.


A blind person can choose to walk down the centre of a route or to the sides of it. It depends on what is happening along the route. Sometimes the local blind organisations will show blind people appropriate routes that go to the destinations that they want.


The sides of routes should provide something to help them be detected. A change in texture, such as paving to grass, or a raised edge or tapping board about 100mm high. Some people will use a tapping cane, while others will use one with a roller ball which taps to the side but also rolls over the ground and gives information on the surface texture.

The sides of a route can become cluttered with hazards such as abandoned shopping trollies, bins or seats. People can be an extra hazard standing, walking or sitting in the seats. They may see the blind person approaching but don't have enough space to step aside.

In a busy area, the middle of a route may be more appropriate but there are fewer indications of where you are - nothing to tap against, no sounds coming out of doorways. In these situations, a strip of tactile paving running out from a doorway or other useful landmark will give information on where you have got to. Other people have more opportunity to move around a person with a white cane


Drop kerbs by roads should have tactile paving to advise people with vision impairments that they are by the kerb edge. The width of the tactile paving should be wide enough that it cannot be missed by being stepped over, particularly if it is in the direction of travel. If a right angle turn has to be made to face the road, a strip of tactile paving could run out from the tactile paving at the kerb edge to the back of the pavement, to advise people that the crossing point has been reached. There should be at least a 6mm step down from the drop kerb into the road. This can be detected by people with vision impairments. It is important that the tactile paving lines up with the direction of travel so that blind people can use it to walk straight across the road.

Tactile paving can be uncomfortable for other users, particularly wheelchair users with spinal conditions. The early tactile paving was particularly bumpy but newer specifications have rounded off the edges of the projections. While a blind person needs at least a 6mm step down into the road, a wheelchair user needs a maximum step down of not more than 12mm. Resurfaced roads can often change this dimension and drop kerb crossings need to be checked during and after such works.

BS:8300 has details and diagrams for drop kerbs.