Osoba poruszająca się o lasce na pasie ostrzegawczym

Adaptation of urban space to the needs of visually impaired people

Accessibility of public space for people with disabilities is one of the key challenges facing designers of modern cities. Thanks to the infrastructure that accompanies the “Tram to Mistrzejowice” investment, people with visual disabilities will soon have a new space adapted to their needs.

People with visual impairments experience various dangers as they go about their daily lives in society. In order to get to work, school or the store, they have to overcome many architectural barriers. Not all of them can be removed, but many can be signaled in advance and designed in a way that improves accessibility

In the Tram to Mistrzejowice project, special textured pavement markings were designed at the Młyńskie and Polsadu Roundsbouts underground stops. They allow visually impaired people to use public transportation comfortably and safely. Thanks to four types of textured tiles embedded in the floor, people moving with a cane for the blind are able to distinguish tactilely the texture of the pavement.

– All of the envisioned types of textured pavement markings are important for visually impaired people, as they make it easier for them to navigate urban spaces and increase their safety, says Łukasz Jaworski, architecture coordinator at Gulermak.

What types of textured pavement markings will we use?

  • A warning lane is a textured panel with nodule-like tabs arranged transversely to the direction of traffic, which signals the approach of a hazard or obstacle. In the case of the Tram to Mistrzejowice project, it is, for example, the edge of a platform, the edge of a staircase or an elevator door,
  • The guide lane is formed by plates with longitudinal grooves that allow the direction of movement to be read and enable people with visual impairments to orient themselves more easily in space,
  • The attention field is a square plate with tabs that indicates a change in direction of travel or the intersection of guide lanes,
  • A waiting area is a textured board also square in shape, but larger, that indicates to a visually impaired person where to wait for an oncoming streetcar. This is the point where the streetcar doors should stop so that the passenger can get inside freely.

Textured pavement markings are just one of the solutions that help visually impaired people navigate in public spaces – It is also important to ensure the appropriate number of lighting fixtures and its intensity, as well as the use of audible beacons that inform of an oncoming tram or bus, adds Łukasz Jaworski.

Improving the accessibility of public space will increase the number of people using public transportation, which will reduce car traffic and air pollution. It is therefore worth taking steps to adapt public spaces to the needs of visually impaired people in order to create cities that are more friendly to everyone.

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Tramwaj jadący po zielonych torach. Zdjęcie podglądowe

Tramway to Mistrzejowice will run on green trackbed

In recent years, more and more cities are beginning to appreciate the potential of trackbed as a perfect spot to locate additional green areas. The trend is especially popular in cities that are seeking new ways to improve the quality of life of their residents. Kraków is a leader in the greening of tramway routes in Poland. The Tram to Mistrzejowice is yet another project following this pattern.

Many cities are struggling these days with air pollution and facing limited amount of green spaces. One solution to this problem is the so-called green trackbed: green belts running along streets, tramway tracks or expressways. Their main goal is to improve the quality of life for the residents by increasing green urban areas, reducing noise and protecting against air pollution.

Green trackbed are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world. Kraków has been investing in green initiatives for years and is ahead of other cities in Poland in terms of green tram infrastructure. There are over 28 kilometers of green routes in the city now.  Green tracks have been already introduced for instance on communication routes of 3 Maja Avenue, Kamienna – Prądnicka – Dr. Twardego – Krowodrza Górka, Grzegórzeckie Roundabout – Mały Płaszów and Grota Roweckiego – Czerwone Maki. The planned construction of a new tram route to Mistrzejowice involves an additional 4.2 km of green tracks.

Why is it worth building green tracks?

Green tracks in the city center help to significantly reduce air pollution. Plants absorb harmful substances from the air, such as nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, and produce oxygen. More greenery supports biodiversity and attracts different species of birds and insects.

However, the advantages of this solution are not only about ecology. Green tracks also improve the quality of life for the residents. They perform an insulating function: reduce noise and vibrations emitted by trams to the environment. Green tracks absorb sounds from the surroundings, which means residents face less problems with noise.

Green tracks are crucial for improving the quality of life for residents, so more and more cities around the world are opting for this solution. Often times, these areas are introduced as part of revitalization of post-industrial districts or railway infrastructure. This supports creating new, attractive green spaces in the city center.

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Location of ticket machines revealed for the tram route to Mistrzejowice!

Ticket machines are installed in the last stage of the tram route construction, but their locations must be planned already at the design stage. Why so early? To secure power.

The contract for the construction of the tram route to Mistrzejowice obliges the private partner to make the connection, power supply and prepare the foundations for the ticket machines. Ticket machines are also a source of passenger information and have been very well received in Kraków. They will be located near the new stops.

Where exactly?

at the current location of the stop: Tauron Arena Kraków Wieczysta

before the junction of Meissnera and Ugorek Streets

on the junction of Meissnera and Kazimierza Chałupnika Streets

on the Młyńskie Roundabout stop

before the junction of Młyńska and Miechowity Streets

on the Polsadu Roundabout stop

on the junction of Dobrego Pasterza and Mariana Słoneckiego Streets

on Dobrego Pasterza Street before the junction with Krzesławicka Street 

on Bohomolca Street after the junction with Kniaźnina Street

on Jancarza Street after the junction Oświecenia Residental Area

on the Mistrzejowice terminus

An overview map of the planned ticket machine locations

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Zdjęcie podglądowe schodów ruchomych. Źródło: wizualizacja wykonana na potrzeby innych projektów Gulermak

Passengers will reach underground stops by elevators and escalators

The tram route to Mistrzejowice will feature a grade-separated solution through two Kraków roundabouts: underground. Moving between levels is not easy for everyone and some users may even find it impossible. Therefore, the design provides for safe elevators and escalators.

Access to individual floors of the Polsadu Roundabout underground stop – which can be used by up to 1,600 passengers per hour – is ensured mainly by traditional stairs. However, the design also includes six pairs of escalators, i.e. as many as 12 flights. If combined in a single row, they would lead passengers to a height of about 60 meters: as high as the St. Mary’s Tower!

Coming back down to earth: the escalators will be inclined at an angle of 30 degrees and their usable width will be 1m. For safety, the edges of individual steps will be marked with a contrasting color and the flights will be equipped with dynamic traffic lights prohibiting or allowing access. In addition, the operation of the stairs will be monitored 24 hours a day by the BMS system and supervised by qualified staff at the stop.

Elevator to the platform

It will also be possible to get to the modern underground stop by elevators. Although intended for every user, they are dedicated especially to the elderly, individuals with limited mobility and carers with children in prams. There will be facilities for the blind. The buttons on the controls inside and on the call panel will be equipped with Braille. A voice information system will also be put in place.

Elevator dimensions will allow for the free movement of a larger group of passengers – anyone with suitcases, luggage, backpacks or bicycles. An additional convenience secured by the designers are heated door sills to facilitate opening and closing the door in the winter in case the snow freezes.  What about floors? Under their feet, passengers will see stone slabs matching other floors. Elevators have also been designed at the Młyńskie Roundabout stop located on level -1, but in a semi-open and secured excavation.

Technology that will last

Elevator interior will be finished in a vandal-resistant stainless steel. They will be monitored and a visual signal will be transmitted to the surveillance room 24/7. For safe and efficient operation, both the elevators and the escalators will be regularly maintained and inspected. Passengers will be enjoying them for many years to come!

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