Pavement parking putting disabled people at risk
Partially sighted pedestrians are risking their safety by walking in the road because they cannot get past cars and vans parked on pavements.
Sheffield disability groups, including Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind, have welcomed calls to ban pavement parking but say enforcement is key.
Cars straddling kebs plus vans and lorries completely blocking pavements has been an ongoing issue in Sheffield.
The Government recently held a public consultation and MPs on the transport committee criticised the Department for Transport for failing to take action and called for an outright ban.
Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind gave a statement to the consultation, saying: “Pavement parking is certainly an issue for our visually impaired clients.
“Sometimes, motorists may think they are being helpful by parking off the road, or sometimes it may be that they just don’t think at all.
“However, in either case, they may not realise the impact it can have on someone who has sight loss, as well as many other members of the community.
“From the point of view of people with sight loss, we would urge people to consider that by parking on a pavement it blocks access.
“The person with sight loss may have to step out into the road to get around the vehicle, and obviously, with little or no sight, may then be in danger of not being able to allow for other moving vehicles.”
The Disability Hub, Disability Sheffield and the Access Liaison Group also submitted evidence and say access on streets is often reported as one of the eight biggest barriers for disabled people getting out and about.
Andrew Crooks of Disability Sheffield said in a report: “Groups say enforcement is the key issue. It must be easy and cost effective for a council to both bring in a ban to pavement parking and act on contraventions.
“It is important that it is straightforward to report contraventions for disabled people and the potential to photograph the vehicle to report would be useful.
“The groups would welcome guidance setting out maximum response time targets for urgent/repeated offences which block or put a person in danger due to a parking contravention.
“In terms of policing and procedures the group said they envisaged a penalty charge notice being discharged to drivers parking illegally.”
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield gave evidence and said he’s been contacted where vehicles are blocking access to private driveways and garages, preventing people being able to travel in their own vehicles to work or to medical appointments.
“There is the problem of vehicles parking partly on the pavement and causing an obstruction for pedestrians, guide dog owners, pushchairs and wheelchairs.
“Pavement users are forced to leave the pavement and use the public highway which poses obvious risks”.
What’s the law?
In June 2018, Sheffield Council announced plans to fine motorists who parked on pavements and created a danger.
But a Freedom of Information request in January of this year found the council had not pursued the legislation.
In April, the council said it was putting money aside to crackdown on obstructive parking in the city centre but there are no plans to enforce it in the suburbs.
Coun Bob Johnson, cabinet member for transport, said: “There is no excuse for pavement parking and we are looking at a traffic regulation order for the city centre.
“We also gave evidence to the Government and we want them to decriminilise it because at the moment, it’s classed as a criminal offence so the only person who can enforce it is a police officer and they clearly don’t have the resources to do it.”