Barry Coppinger experienced issues for the blind with parked cars on the pavement. He was assisted by Paul Corner, Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, and Eddie.
Inconsiderate drivers who block footpaths with their vehicles are being warned that they are putting the lives of disabled and vulnerable people in danger by forcing them into the road.
The message to these drivers across Cleveland is to ‘think before you park’ and remember that footpaths are intended for people and not for cars.
The Cleveland Police Disability Support Network (DSN) is raising further awareness of the difficulties faced by a number of people including those who are blind or partially sighted, deaf, those who use crutches and wheelchairs users. Pavement blocking is an issue that is recognised nationally, with elderly people and adults with prams also being affected.
Staff from DSN say that it causes a particular problem for people with guide dogs, who should be able to walk freely on the pavement without the barrier of a vehicle in the way – taking them and the dog into the path of oncoming traffic.
Parking issues are on the agenda at community discussions up and down the country – particularly for those living in streets with terraced housing. The law around highways and parking enforcement is complex but says that parking on yellow lines and in restricted places is an issue for Civil Enforcement Officers and that the police will deal with dangerous parking and wilful or unnecessary blocking of the footpath.
A national YouGov poll commissioned by charity Guide Dogs shows that most drivers in the UK (54%) admit they park on the pavement. However, nearly five out of 10 drivers (48%) who said they park on a pavement haven’t thought about the possible problems they cause to blind or partially sighted people. Many pavement parkers in the UK also haven’t thought about the possible risk they pose to other vulnerable road users like the elderly (50%), and adults with prams (36%).
The issue is going to be further highlighted at a display to illustrate the ways in which disabled people have to negotiate blocked footpaths. Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer and Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Barry Coppinger will join others in experiencing these difficulties first hand by navigating around obstacles whilst being blindfolded and led by a trainee guide dog.
Geraldine Church from the Disability Support Network said: “No-one should be forced to walk on the road because a driver has been inconsiderate and used the pavement as a parking space. Those with disabilities encounter these dangerous situations on a regular basis and we want to raise as much awareness as possible to educate drivers and clamp down on the issue.”
Cleveland Police Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer said: “Some drivers have a completely different mindset when behind the wheel of a car. They would be considerate enough to hold a door open for a vulnerable or disabled person but think nothing of parking across a pavement and forcing them to walk on a busy road.
“Issues such as this need to be addressed by educating drivers about these dangers, and staff from the Disability Support Network are doing an excellent job. While there are laws in place around parking issues the onus must be on drivers to not obstruct footpaths in the first place and the key to this is raising awareness of the problem.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “Obstructing the footpath is not only selfish but extremely irresponsible. Drivers should put themselves in the shoes of vulnerable people who are forced to spend a considerable length of time trying to negotiate how to continue on their journey, fearful for their safety. I am pleased to be able to assist the DSN with their campaign and spread the message to these selfish drivers.”
Posted on Wednesday 31st July 2013