PAVEMENTS could be made safer for people with disabilities and families under new proposals to ban anti-social parking unveiled by the Government.
Parking on pavements disproportionately affects people with visual or mobility impairments, those assisted by guide dogs, and wheelchair and mobility scooter users. More than 95 per cent of wheelchair users and people with visual impairments say they have faced problems as a result of vehicles parked on pavements.
Three options are proposed in the consultation – improving the traffic regulation order process to make it easier for councils to prohibit pavement parking in their areas, giving councils powers to fine drivers who park on paths, and a London-style nationwide ban on pavement parking.
However, there is still a major role for cars and other private vehicles, so any future plans will need to take this into consideration.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Parking on pavements means wheelchair users, visually impaired people and parents with push chairs can be forced into the road, which is not only dangerous, but discourages people from making journeys.
Pavement parking presents a clear safety risk when parked cars occupy the pavement and force vulnerable pedestrians to move into the road.
As many streets were built decades and centuries before the high levels of vehicles currently on roads, any measures will need to ensure the free-flow of traffic and access for the emergency services.
Stephen Edwards, director of Policy and Communications, Living Streets said: “We’re regularly contacted by disabled and older people who feel trapped in their homes because there isn’t enough room on the pavement for wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
“This has impacted more people during the pandemic with blocked pavements affecting everyone’s ability to physically distance.”
Blanche Shackleton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs said: “For many people with sight loss, cars and vans parked on the pavement make our streets stressful and dangerous to navigate. At any time, you might be forced out into the road with traffic that you cannot see.”
“When every journey is an ordeal, simply going out independently can become daunting,” she added.