In a welcome development for those suffering with a disability or mobility impairment, a cross-party group of MPs has called for a ban on pavement parking.
Parking on pavements puts disabled people at greater risk and stress all across the country. It reduces the width of pavements and puts a large obstacle in the way of people with wheelchairs or other mobility aids. And this is to say nothing of people who suffer visual impairment or are neurodiverse.
The Commons Transport Committee released a new report last month – the result of an enquiry that saw a number of disabled people claim that pavement parking ranged from being “inconvenient to downright dangerous.” The Committee described government inaction over the issue as “profoundly regrettable.”
In a memorable quote to the Committee, one wheelchair and mobility scooter user said: “To avoid a vehicle often means entering the highway. This may put me in danger from other road users and this solution is far from practical. I have to drop down a kerb and then try and remount the pavement after the vehicle.
“Sometimes this causes additional stress and complications for me. A single vehicle is very annoying but when there are several vehicles to negotiate, I find myself staying in the road for prolonged periods of time. Whilst my scooter has lights, my wheelchair is not designed for road use. I am very vulnerable when on the road.”
Another wheelchair user told the Committee: “I stay home a lot because the amount of times I’ve got stuck, or had my partner ‘bounce’ my wheelchair down kerbs because of cars parked on the path makes any journey difficult or longer.”
Pavement parking is already banned in London, and will be banned in Scotland. The Committee’s report calls for a nationwide ban, to be enforced by local authorities. This report is the outcome of a campaign which has been pushing for government action since 2015.
Lillian Greenwood, the Committee’s chair, said: “This is a thorny problem that may be difficult to resolve to the satisfaction of all, but the government’s inaction has left communities blighted by unsightly and obstructive pavement parking and individuals afraid or unable to leave their homes or safely navigate the streets.”
There is recognition that the ban would take a significant time to implement – and that exemptions would be allowed under certain conditions. But regardless of the difficulties in realising a ban on pavement parking, there’s no doubt that the current discussion is good news for people coping with disability and mobility impairment.