Pavement Parking Law - ensuring a safe passage
Guide Dog’s Senior Public Affairs Officer, Jennifer Keen, explains why pavement parking is a major fear for people without sight and how their Streets Ahead campaign is fighting to end it.
Imagine what it’s like walking around without sight. What would you be worried about? Bumping into people? Tripping over rubbish? Accidently stepping into the road and getting run over? All of the above?
Guide Dogs asked this question to 780 people with sight loss, and 91% responded with the same answer: cars parked on pavements. Cars on pavements are a problem because they block the pavement and force people with sight loss to walk in the road. Walking in the road can be dangerous for any pedestrian but people with sight loss especially need to stay on the pavement to stay safe.
If you can’t rely on the pavement to be a safe place to walk, free from cars, then what can you do? The answer, for all too many people with sight loss, is to stay at home.
Pavement parked cars are so widespread that sighted people, too, are familiar with the problems they cause. In fact, a recent YouGov survey found that almost three quarters of UK adults (74%), have been forced to walk into the road because of a vehicle parked on a pavement. An earlier YouGov survey revealed that 54% of drivers admitted to parking on the pavement.
But there’s good news: the survey found that more than three quarters of drivers said that they were likely to stop parking on the pavement if it was illegal. So to tackle the problem, what we need is a law to make it clear that pavement parking is not acceptable where it puts pedestrians at risk. And we’re getting closer to putting that law in place all the time.
There have been many attempts to outlaw pavement parking over the years, dating back to the Road Traffic Act in 1974. Back in 2006 the Transport Select Committee said: "The Government must grip the problem of pavement parking once and for all and ensure that it is outlawed throughout the country”. This was echoed by the current Committee in its 2013 inquiry report which found that the current system was “unduly complex” and “difficult for motorists to understand”.
The campaign to stop pavement parking gained further momentum this year with two Private Members Bills brought forward. It is normally a big achievement for a campaign to get one Bill tabled on a topic, but to have two on the same issue shows the real extent and strength of feeling out there about this problem. The Pavement Parking Bill is supported by MPs from across parties and is due to have its Second Reading in January.
There’s also been support from the House of Lords, and today the latest attempt to change the law will be debated there, in the form of an amendment to the Deregulation Bill. It is to be moved by the assiduous champion of disability rights, Lord Low of Dalston, and we hope there will be a high quality of debate.
If you would like to help Guide Dogs make pavements safer for pedestrians you can email us or visit our campaign site.
Lord Low’s article on the amendment to the Deregulation Bill can be found