Determining the Width of Streets by Listening to Traffic
Blind people can determine the probable width of unfamiliar streets by listening to the traffic.
Of course this requires a conceptual understanding of lanes, as well as the ability to determine how far away are the lanes in which traffic is traveling.
These next two pages have suggested activities to teach these concepts and skills.
- understanding what are "lanes" and how wide lanes typically are:
Walk with the student across a quiet street or across an area that is marked to represent lanes and tell the student when each lane starts and ends, until the student can walk across the lanes and report accurately when the next lane starts.
Once the students seem to understand the width of the lanes, have them walk across a quiet street or an area with traffic lanes (if they can see the markings, have them close their eyes, or have them walk in an area that is not marked) and have them report when they think they have reached the end of each lane and are beginning the next.
Practice until they can do so accurately.
Congenitally blind students can examine vehicles in parking lots to become familiar with the width of cars and trucks and understand the reason for the width of the lanes needed to accommodate them.
However, be aware that the width of parking spaces is usually about 8 feet wide, and lanes in the streets are usually 10-14 feet wide.
- understanding the typical geometry of streets:
Explain that although there are many exceptions, most streets are symmetrical, so that if there are two lanes going one way, there are usually two lanes going the other way. However an extra lane is usually inserted at busy intersections for left-turning traffic entering the intersection, and there is sometimes a parking lane on one side of the street but not the other.