Making streets accessible and safe for blind and partially sighted people is one of RNIB’s most important campaigns, so we welcomed the announcement that the Transport Committee are launching an inquiry “to explore the problems of pavement parking in England and consider possible solutions”.
Pavement parking is where vehicles stop with one or more wheel on a pedestrian walkway. Drivers often think they are doing the right thing by parking on pavements to keep the road clear. However, clear pavements are essential for blind and partially sighted people, and parking on pavements causes a host of serious problems.
Vehicles parked partly or fully on pavements obstruct walkways and often can’t be detected by people with sight loss until it is too late, causing people to collide with the parked vehicles, at best losing confidence of independence and at worst resulting in injury. Pavement parking can also mean pedestrians are forced to venture into the road to bypass the parked vehicles, placing them in danger of moving vehicles in the road. This is particularly problematic for people with a visual impairment, wheelchair and mobility scooter users, and parents with buggies or prams.
RNIB believes that pavement parking is an equalities issue, and that the Department for Transport should enforce a full country-wide ban as part of its Equality Action Plan and in line with the Equalities Act 2010. Our Policy and Campaigns Manager Hugh Huddy said:
We welcome the Transport Committee’s inquiry on pavement parking in England because we think the problem cannot be allowed to continue. We will be engaging with the enquiry to ensure the safety of Britain’s almost two million with sight loss are not traded off against other people’s desire for convenience. As a society we surely have to treat blocked pavements as seriously as we treat blocked roads and we think the government have a key role to play in solving this problem. Blind and partially sighted people rely on clear and accessible pavements and often face totally unacceptable risks to personal safety when attempting to pick their way around cars parked on pavements. Inclusive journeys start and end with accessible pavements.
There is also the issue of the financial cost of pavement parking. Pavements are designed for pedestrians, but vehicles are significantly heavier and can cause costly damage to pavements, kerbs and tactile paving – adding further pressure to already stretched council budgets.
Large good vehicles are prohibited from pavement parking throughout England and Pavement parking has been banned in London since 1974, and can incur a fine of up to £70, but this is not currently the case for the rest of England. The key difference is set out in the Highway Code which states that drivers ‘MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.’ So while pavement parking is advised against throughout England, this is only supported by legislation in London.
As part of the Inquiry into pavement parking, the Transport Committee is now calling for written evidence on:
Lilian Greenwood who will be chairing the inquiry into pavement parking said:
This is an area where some people’s actions cause real difficulties for others. Parking on pavements risks the safety of all groups of people from the littlest to the oldest, with differing needs. While we’re also inquiring into Active Travel – how we get more people to get into walking and cycling – we need to make sure it’s safe to take to the streets. We want to hear from the public about the difficulties this presents and the solutions on offer.
If you want to have your say on pavement parking and how it has affected you, you can upload your written comments on the UK Parliament website here:
The closing date for submissions is 14 May 2019, so if you want your views on this important issue to be hear by the committee, get writing!