sidewalk bumps
YouTube: Tom Scott

Here's What Sidewalk Bumps Are Actually For


You've seen them everywhere: The textured, sidewalk bumps all over town. The majority of people don't know what they are for, because most people don't need the help that they provide. The textures help visually impaired people navigate intersections safely. Different textures mean different things, like curb drop-offs into an intersection, or a train platform, or stairs ahead. It really is eye-opening to learn the complexity of a system that most people will never actually use.

Those with visual impairments benefit greatly from detectable warning surfaces like truncated domes and other forms of tactile paving. These tactile warnings, often bright yellow, identify trip hazards and act as warning pavers. Thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act, Americans with disabilities have an easier time getting around.

Why Sidewalk Bumps Exist

The video explains that the patterns of truncated domes signify different warnings for the visually impaired. Dots in a grid explain that a dropped curb ramp and crosswalk are up ahead. The bright colors help those who are partially sighted see the detectible warning. These special tactile indicators warn the visually impaired of major changes to their surroundings, like when the sidewalk ends.


Raised bumps and tactile pavements come in a variety of different patterns to indicate different areas, such as train platforms, public transportation, curb cuts, pedestrian crossings, and more. The bumps are almost like braille to the visually impaired. The more bright and textured, the better. Cyclists may not be huge fans of the yellow sidewalk bumps, but they offer a unique sense of inclusion and accessibility for those who need the help thanks to the ADA.

Due to technology and science, the world is changing more rapidly than ever before. We have been able to aid those with disabilities in ways that were thought to be impossible in the past. Personally, I believe the tactile indicators are the least we can do for those in the visually impaired community. The future is now, and we must do everything we can to make the lives of those who face unique challenges more simplistic.

Products featured on Alt_driver are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

This article was originally posted on April 30, 2019.


Related Videos