In Xiamen, most sidewalks are tiled. I am not sure if it is the case in other Chinese cities, but it is definitely very common here.
And some of the tiles (like the yellow ones on the photo) are actually soft, like made of rubber.
I always wondered why. So yesterday night, as we were walking home with our Chinese friend Wayne (after some beers to celebrate Saint-Patrick’s day with some ex-pats, at a bar owned by a guy from Sweden who was apologizing for not having enough Irish songs… Imagine that!)…
So as I was saying, yesterday night as we were walking home, I took the opportunity to ask our friend. “Why the soft tiles?” “It’s for the blind people, so they can follow the path… and you see, they have stripes and then the last one before the street or when they have to turn have dots rather than stripes, so blind people know when to stop. They can feel the shapes with their feet… You don’t have those in the US?”
“Nope” I answered, and he added, concerned: “So how do blind people find their way around?” “Humm, unfortunately, they have to manage without this great help!” I said…
Well, this time, China impressed me!
And if you search the web, you will actually come across a few manufacturers of these titles. They call them “blind tiles”.
Update 2021: Since, I have noticed that in a place like Montreal, there are actually some tiles with those bumps, but only at the curb (so the blinds know when it is the end of the sidewalk and the beginning of the road.)