Why the Pandemic Has Made Streets More Dangerous for Blind People

It has reduced the flow of cars and trucks at times, leaving streets in some neighborhoods as placid as suburban lanes. That may sound like a blessing for blind New Yorkers like Terence Page.

But, in fact, the opposite is true. The normal roar of traffic moving past provides clues — often the only ones — about when it is time to venture into a crosswalk.

“Quiet is not good for blind people,” Mr. Page said as he swept his long green cane across the sidewalk along Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, trying to locate the curb at West 23rd Street.

But Mr. Page had just traversed the avenue with confidence because that crossing is equipped with an audible signal that tells pedestrians when they have the go-ahead to stride across the pavement. The vast majority of the city’s 13,200 crossings are not, including the one at 23rd Street that Mr. Page faced after crossing Sixth Avenue.