From the blog
Walk to Work Week ran from 26th to 30th April and proved to be highly successful, with 10,000 individuals signing up and collectively walking 71,000 miles. I personally enjoyed arriving at work feeling energised and ready to start the day, having stretched my legs and enjoyed the morning sunshine, and managed to clock up 33.25 miles over the course of the week.
However, I wonder how many of you, like myself, were forced to make mini unplanned detours on your route. Namely, the detour of stepping off the pavement, into the road, and back on to the pavement again, in order to get past a parked car which was taking up the entirety of the pedestrian space?
This appears to be a recurring problem for pedestrians, who are either forced into the road, or made to squeeze through tight spaces between buildings and cars. Although putting the pedestrian at unnecessary risk by forcing them to walk in the road, it's not a massive problem for observant and alert walkers. However, consider those with pushchairs and buggies, people using wheelchairs or mobility scooters, or those with visual impairments. The narrow slip of pavement left by a driver, with the assumption that single file pedestrians can still walk past, is no longer sufficient or easy to manoeuvre.
Aside from the obvious inconvenience and danger caused by parking in this manner, driving on pavements that are not designed for this purpose can cause damage to paving slabs and grass verges, thus potentially creating a further risk to pedestrians. Add to this the risk of damaging vital underground services, along with the potential for blocking fire hydrants and limiting access for emergency vehicles, and the overall impact of this problem grows.
The law surrounding parking on the pavement is unclear and therefore confusing for both pedestrians and drivers. Although it is recognised that parking on pavements is illegal, there are many exemptions where the local council may consider it justified. There are narrow residential roads with no private driveways in most cities, and in a trade off between obstructing pedestrians by parking on the pavements, and obstructing traffic by parking on the narrow roads, the former is usually considered the least likely to cause an accident.
So what is the solution to this problem? Should the police be more vigilant in enforcing the law? Or is it up to local councils to ensure that car parks and public transport are of a higher standard, in order to reduce the number of places where people feel parking on the pavement is their only option? In reality, would drivers park safely further from their destination and walk the remainder of the journey, or would they continue to park on pavements for the sake of getting as close as possible to where they are going?
It appears that there is no simple quick-fix solution to this problem. However, if you find that these issues are of particular concern where you live, it may be worth contacting your local council, MP or the police to draw their attention to problem areas. There is a useful campaign resources pack available here: http://www.livingstreets.org.uk/resources which includes posters and template letters.