Vaila Morrison, stairlift and home lift company Stannah’s inclusive design expert image
Vaila Morrison, stairlift and home lift company Stannah’s inclusive design expert

Vaila Morrison, stairlift and home lift company Stannah’s inclusive design expert, discusses the importance, issues, and call for regulations to be put in place about pavement parking.

We’re increasingly aware that, for many reasons, walking (or wheeling) is good for us – from improved physical health and mental wellbeing to more opportunity to engage with other people and feel part of our community.

Most trips out of the house include some element of walking, even if just around the area near your home or when you get to your destination, so good accessible pavements and footpaths are key to ensuring people can get out and about.

Unfortunately, there are many reasons why pavements can be inaccessible, including damage that causes trip hazards, lack of maintenance, the clutter of street furniture including parking meters and electric vehicle charge points, to the lack of safe crossing points and badly placed dropped kerbs. For many of these issues, cost is a large barrier to implementing changes and making improvements.

However, one major thing that could make a huge difference, with just a change in policy, is to introduce clear restrictions on pavement parking throughout the UK.

London has already introduced a ban on vehicles bumping up on the pavement to park, and Scotland has begun to do the same (with councils given powers to give exemptions in certain situations), but despite a government consultation recommending the introduction across England and Wales a number of years ago there is no further clarity throughout most of the UK.

Pavement parking obstructions can make it difficult, sometimes impossible, for people to get past and more adversely affects certain groups.

It can be one of those things that, unless it affects you or someone you know personally, you may not realise just how much of a barrier narrowing the pavement may cause others.

Unexpected obstructions are a huge problem for blind visually impaired people. Wheelchair users, especially those who use powered chairs, can’t easily squeeze through small gaps next to hedges or bump down and up kerbs to go around vehicles, even if the road is quiet enough for this to be viable. The same, of course, applies to parents/carers with prams and buggies and young children walking or scooting.

This is where clear guidance can make a huge difference, as it will just become the rule, and we don’t need to expect everyone to understand other people’s access needs.

If dangerous pavement situations are avoided, those who are discouraged from going out will feel more confident and become less isolated. There will be less reliance on car use, and as additional damage to pavements through cars bumping up and down, councils will even save money in maintenance requirements!

This issue is often focusing on the disabled accessibility factor, which perhaps limits our view of the type of journeys impacted. Pavement parking affects all of us, not least the younger generation whose opportunities as children to develop their independence can is curtailed.

There is some interesting research by organisations such as Create Streets and campaigners such as Tim Gill championing the idea that if we make our cities, towns, and villages more child friendly, it will not only help make our built environment a more pleasant place to be, but also become more accessible to more people.

Over 7,000 healthcare professionals stay informed about the latest assistive technology with AT Today. Do you?
We respect your privacy