VISION impaired people could be at risk with the $4.5 million upgrade to Fitzroy Street.
Tamworth Regional Council installed Chinese elm trees, free Wi-Fi and street furniture – but forgot one crucial element, tactile markers for the vision impaired.
Phillip Tilley lost his sight in 1999 to a rare genetic disorder, and said the fear of being lost is disorienting.
“When the tactiles were there I would walk until I hit the tactiles on the other side, now you walk off the shoreline and you’re in no man’s land,” he said.
“I could end up in the flow of traffic in Peel Street.”
Shore lining is a cane skill used by vision impaired people, the traveller will use their cane to follow the curb or building edge to orient themselves.
Once the shoreline drops off, the person walks straight until they hit tactiles or the curb, cross the road and meet the tactiles and shoreline on the other side.
The Fitzroy Street shared pedestrian area has removed both curbing and tactiles, so Mr Tilley can walk into the flow of one-way traffic without knowing.
A council spokesperson said it is strongly focused on pedestrian safety, and the shared zone speed limit is 10 kilometres per hour.
“There is no requirement for road lines, curb or gutter to be included in a shared zone to highlight the fact that pedestrians have right of way,” she said.
“There is also no statutory requirement that tactile markers must be included in the design of a shared zone.”
Council has received a request to install markers in the area and is assessing suitable locations and costings.
But, Mr Tilley said it’s not good enough, without the tactiles he loses his independence.
“It’s alright to say we can ask for help but we shouldn’t have to ask passersby where we are,” he said.
“Tactiles in strategic places where the shoreline disappears helps, it needed to be done yesterday – I’m taking the time to say there’s a deficiency and it can be improved.”