The Shreveport Pedestrian Experience

By Brandon Smith

Taking a walk in Shreveport can be a challenge for anyone, but especially for those of us who are visually impaired. As a medium-sized city, there are obviously going to be good and bad areas when it comes to pedestrian travel, but the bad areas can be unpleasant for people with limited to no vision.

I’ve experienced areas that are not made for walking at all. There are neighborhoods with no sidewalks, which limit your choices to walking on a busy street, or trudging your way through waist-high grass where, especially during warmer seasons, surprises might be lurking.

The places in the city where sidewalks exist often present difficult or even dangerous situations. Hazards include cracks in the concrete, sharp drop-offs, and places where dirt has collected so much until it’s not evident a sidewalk even exists. Sidewalks may even be sprinkled with litter or covered with some unknown substance that gives off a very unpleasant odor.

Other cities have audible signals at crosswalks indicating when it’s safe for a person to cross the street. This system provides safe measures for helping people who are visually impaired to cross busy streets, and build confidence in mobility.

Below are simple solutions for solving some of these issues:

  1. Keep sidewalks free of litter
    Repair any damaged walkways
    Maintain safe walking conditions in areas where sidewalks don’t exist

A pedestrian-friendly city not only enriches the lives of blind travelers, but impacts all its residents. Plus, walking is a healthier, inexpensive option for getting from place to place.

For those with visual disabilities: Keep those Orientation and Mobility (O&M) skills sharp! Excellent cane travel techniques can help you conquer those bumps in the road, so to speak.