There are many things that make travelling through cities difficult for blind people: holes in the pavement, beeping crosswalks that can be heard from other junctions, paths that lead nowhere… The worst, though, is made all the more frustrating by the fact that it’s completely avoidable.
The Guide Dogs Association has found that, among its members at least, cars parked on pavements are the “number one obstacle” faced by blind people on the street. That’s because cars are so big that a badly parked one can mean you have to walk out into the road, often in the face of oncoming traffic, to navigate around it. Which rather negates the point of pavements altogether, doesn’t it?
Catherine, a blind guide dog user from the West Midlands, said this is particularly distressing when she has her young son with her:
I am a blind mum and pavement parking puts me and my three year old son at risk nearly every day. It is impossible to explain road safety to my son when we have to walk in the road.
To draw attention to the issue, the Association has asked people to send in photos of cars parked where they shouldn’t be:
And here’s one from a dog:
The Association is also building up a map of offenders across the UK.
There are regulations against pavement parking, but they’re patchy at best: it’s illegal in London, except on special exempted streets, but across the rest of the country the rules and enforcement are up to local councils.
Last year, Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood brought a ballot bill (where an MP is chosen at random to introduce a bill) to “clarify, strengthen, and simplify the law” on pavement parking before Parliament. Sadly, it wasn’t passed by the end of this government, so it will take another MP to propose it this year to set the wheels in motion again. Public support is certainly there: a YouGov poll found that 69 per cent of the public supported Horwood’s proposed bill.
In the meantime, though, keep your car on the road. Or, better yet, walk.
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