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Pedestrian Safety is Crucial for Disability Community

Published September 29th, 2021 by Mmurray

Ted Goodenough is passionate about making all aspects of life accessible to everyone. He works for the City of Boynton Beach as the ADA Coordinating Assistant and also serves on the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency’s (TPA) Bicycle-Trailways-Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BTPAC) as a representative for the disability community. As a visually-impaired person, transportation in particular can pose challenges for Goodenough during his day-to-day life.

He uses Palm Tran’s paratransit service, Palm Tran Connection, to get to and from most of his destinations but also enjoys walking whenever possible.

“I think other people who are walking are typically very respectful (of me). They see Rosey, my guide dog, and her harness and they go, ‘oh, that guy can’t see me’, so they move into the grass and let me walk by.”Ted with his dog Rosie

Ted works in Boynton Beach and enjoys walking along Ocean Boulevard, listening for train signals for his own safety. He also likes walking in the downtown area of West Palm Beach.

“In Rosemary Square, my wife and I team up together to get around,” he said.

Walking, however, can sometimes be dangerous for Goodenough and his guide dog.

“I have an access road between me and a Publix and I feel very safe on that until somebody comes along riding on a bicycle where it’s just a sidewalk and they want me to move aside,” he explained. “I’m blind. Where am I going to go?”

Ted does not use shared-use paths because it does not offer a designated facility for pedestrians. He encourages cyclists to either ride in a designated bicycle facility or on the road whenever possible. If cyclists feel more comfortable riding on a sidewalk, he requests they be aware of individuals like himself who may not be able to move when they alert pedestrians that they are approaching on their left or right.

“At least be courteous and ride into the grass or walk around me instead of asking me to move. If I go into the grass, I could get lost,” he said.

Ted would like to see more separated and protected bicycle facilities in Palm Beach County, specifically those that have a barrier between motor vehicle traffic and cycle traffic. He understands that debris can get in these facilities if they are close to a road, so he prefers a median, whether grass or another type of protection, that will keep cyclists safe.

Additionally, he would feel safer with more truncated domes at pedestrian crossings in his West Palm Beach neighborhood and across the country. These ground surface indicators with bright colors and a raised surface can warn pedestrians that they are approaching the end of a sidewalk.

Audible pedestrian signals may be one of the most important requests from Ted for his safety. He goes off of the sound of traffic to know when to cross if there isn’t an audible signal crossing.

“I can’t find a pedestrian crossing signal without some help. I can tell Rosey to find the button but she’s not always on the spot. Sometimes we get it and sometimes we don’t,” he explained. “If the signal is not auditory, then it’s not really helpful. We have to listen for traffic.”

He lives off of Okeechobee Boulevard and has never attempted to cross it due to the lack of audible pedestrian signals and the time it would take him to cross with his guide dog.

Ted feels as though his work for the City of Boynton Beach and his BTPAC membership has been beneficial in explaining the importance of accessibility for all.

 “I was chosen as a representative of BTPAC for the disabled community and I think I’ve brought awareness to the visually-impaired and deaf and hard of hearing communities,” he said.

Ted is hopeful that as transportation projects are developed, accessibility in pedestrian facilities will be a priority for all users.

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