Guide Dogs, the leading UK charity for people with sight loss, have called on the Government to crack down on dangerous pavement parking.
Vehicles obstructing footpaths and pathways cause huge difficulties for people with a vision impairment. People with sight loss cannot always see if they can safely squeeze past a parked car, often their only alternative is to step into the road around it – an extremely unsafe option that exposes them to oncoming traffic.
Pavement parking is a daily difficulty for Julie Pilsworth, 45, from Grimsby, and her guide dog Maeve. Her mobility chair makes it even harder to get around cars blocking the pavement.
“Pavement parking puts people in danger every day, especially those with disabilities and visual impairments. It’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt, or worse, killed.
“The pavements should be clear and safe for everyone to use, regardless of whether you have a disability. For me, and others with a vision impairment and disability, it’s frustrating not to be able to use the quickest, safest routes available. Pavement parking needs to be stopped and the Government must take action.”
Pavement parking remains a persistent issue for many pedestrians, and especially people with a vision impairment. New research conducted by YouGov on behalf of Guide Dogs found eight in 10 people (85%) know that pavement parking impacts the safety of pedestrians with a vision impairment. Nearly three-quarters (72%) said pavement parking is common in their area.
Additional YouGov polling among local councillors in England found the majority (95%) said pavement parking created a safety risk for pedestrians with a vision impairment, with 70% admitting pavement parking is a problem in their area.
The Government consulted on options to tackle pavement parking in 2020, and received over 15,000 responses including from Guide Dogs, yet no progress has been made. Now the charity is calling for the government to introduce national restrictions on pavement parking. They say a clear law is needed where pavement parking is the exception, not the norm, to ensure that everyone can walk their streets safely.
Guide Dogs’ call for a new law on pavement parking is backed by a majority, with 57% of people saying they would support limiting pavement parking to specific areas where it is deemed unavoidable by the local council. Three quarters (74%) of councillors also support Guide Dogs’ call.
Eleanor Briggs, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs said:
“The message from the public and local councillors is clear; our streets are not safe because of cars blocking pavements. The Government needs to act now as local councils don’t have the powers they need. Parking on pavements is a nuisance for everyone, but potentially dangerous if you are a wheelchair user forced onto the road, pushing a child in a buggy or have sight loss and can’t see traffic coming towards you.”
“We know cars blocking the way undermines people with vision impairments’ confidence to get out and about independently. This daily threat can mean people can’t safely get to work, education or to see friends. We welcomed the Government’s recognition of the problem but now is the time to make good on their promise of action and give local councils the power to tackle problem pavement parking in their areas.”
In light of these worrying statistics, Guide Dogs say it is clear more needs to be done to strengthen the law around pavement parking.
To support the campaign to legislate against pavement parking, or to find out more, sign the petition here: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/642947