Calls mount to fix dangerous tactile tiles on East Melbourne footpaths 

Calls mount to fix dangerous tactile tiles on East Melbourne footpaths 
Brendan Rees

 East Melbourne residents have reignited concerns about the safety of pedestrians who are slipping and tripping on tactile tiles across various footpaths.

The tactiles, which are made of raised bumps or lines that are placed in the pavement, assist people with disabilities and the wider community to navigate the streets, particularly at intersections.

But they have become a hazard for all pedestrians especially in wet conditions – which residents described as “walking on an ice rink” – an issue the City of Melbourne had been aware of for more than five years, according to the East Melbourne Group (EMG), which has reported several incidents.   

“Pedestrians are experiencing serious injury and it is time this matter was given the urgent priority it requires,” the EMG’s vice-president, Jenny Owen, said.

The City of Melbourne said it had followed “detailed design and construction standards” for the installation of the tactiles, also known as tactile ground surface indicators (TGSIs), across the municipality and were regularly assessing the safety of the streets and footpaths.

“Council will consider a range of amenity works and upgrades in its upcoming 23/24 financial year budget to ensure our city remains a safe, welcoming and accessible place for everyone,” it said.

Ms Owen said while the EMG had welcomed the council replacing some of the ceramic tactiles with granite tactiles at locations where the EMG had reported incidents, it still had concerns that “in the meantime, community members are still having dangerous falls”.   


The EMG thinks the City of Melbourne response is unacceptable given the matter was brought to the attention of City of Melbourne over five years ago. Pedestrians are experiencing serious injury and it is time this matter was given the urgent priority it requires.


Resident Carmel, 68, who fell at the corner of Albert and Powlett streets in early April after tripping on the tactiles said she was lucky she didn’t seriously injure herself.

“I’ve had two hip replacements; I could’ve really done damage. I relied on people coming to my rescue because I couldn’t get myself up because it was so slippery,” she said.

“This is a safety issue, and they [council] don’t consider it a priority. It’s no good saying they’ll be replaced in the next financial year; they have to be replaced as a matter of urgency.”



Michael Chen, the owner of George Street Cafe, said he had seen pedestrians slip on the tactiles, even though some had been replaced at the front of the cafe building after residents’ reports to the council.

In one serious incident, he said he rushed to the aid of a man who had fallen and knocked his head on the pavement at the corner of Simpson and George streets last year, which resulted in an ambulance being called.   

Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Dimi Ioannou, who specialises in personal injury law, said all councils had a responsibility to ensure footpaths were safe for all pedestrians and the City of Melbourne was no exception.

“If residents have reported it to the council and they are not replacing the tactile tiles until next year then the council needs to be aware of the implications,” Ms Ioannou said, adding if people were suffering serious injuries as a result of tripping on footpaths, then they can pursue legal action due to the potential of being out of work for long periods of time and incurring ongoing medical bills.

Ms Ioannou said all councils owed a duty of care to all pedestrians, particularly the vulnerable or elderly, to ensure no one suffered a serious injury due to the state of their property.   

She said at a minimum councils should be displaying warning signs if footpaths are known to be hazardous and “if this hasn’t occurred then council has breached their duty of care”.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said: “We are always striving to make Melbourne a safer place for workers, residents and visitors – whether it’s installing tactile street signs and new bollards in our city streets or upgrading our footpaths to make them safer and more accessible.” •


Captions: East Melbourne Group vice-president Jenny Owen at the intersection of Gipps and Simpson streets where some tactile tiles have been replaced.

East Melbourne Group (EMG) president Greg Bisinella, right, with EMG vice-president Jenny Owen, and George St café owner Michael Chen.

Like us on Facebook