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The UK government is considering a ban on people parking on pavements, having said that it poses a 'clear safety risk' - especially for wheelchair users, visually impaired people and those with pushchairs.
Drivers are already prohibited from parking on the pavement in London, but the government is now proposing the ban could be rolled out elsewhere in England, where currently the rule only applies to lorries.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is now consulting on three options relating to the topic. These three areas are: extending the London-style ban nationwide; making it easier for councils to prohibit pavement parking; and giving councils the power to find offenders.
It said any measures must 'ensure the free-flow of traffic and access for the emergency services.
I know parking spaces can be limited, but pavement parking can be extremely dangerous, putting disabled people and parents with prams at risk. So today we're asking how we can make England's pavements safer for everyone. Have your say :point_down: https://t.co/iPyygHU7Z7
- Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) August 31, 2020
One option currently being explored would enable local authorities to treat 'unnecessary obstruction' as a civil matter, with the ability to issue penalty charge notices of £70 for pavement parking.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Parking on pavements means wheelchair users, visually impaired people and parents with pushchairs can be forced into the road, which is not only dangerous, but discourages people from making journeys.
"A key part of our green, post-Covid recovery will be encouraging more people to choose active travel, such as walking, so it is vital that we make the nation's pavements accessible for everyone.
"Pavement parking presents a clear safety risk when parked cars occupy the pavement and force vulnerable pedestrians to move into the road."
The news follows recent research from charity Guide Dogs, which found that 32 percent of people with visual impairments and 48 percent of wheelchair users are less keen to go out on their own due to antisocial pavement parking.
Stephen Edwards, Director of Policy and Communications at walking charity Living Streets, said: "We're regularly contacted by disabled and older people who feel trapped in their homes because there isn't enough room on the pavement for wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
"This has impacted more people during the pandemic, with blocked pavements affecting everyone's ability to physically distance."
The parenting community has also faced similar issues, with Justine Roberts, Founder and Chief Executive of Mumsnet, saying: "Lots of us have occasionally parked a couple of wheels up on the pavement to leave space on the road without really thinking about how it might inconvenience people.
"It's a topic that comes up regularly on Mumsnet, where wheelchair users and people with buggies share stories about being forced into the road, or having to double back long distances."
However, the AA has warned that a nationwide ban would have 'unintended consequences'.
Jack Cousens, Head of Roads Policy, said: "As we have seen over the past few weeks with road closures and narrowed roads, councils have acted with little consultation and in many cases lost confidence of the communities they serve.
"Local authorities should make a street-by-street assessment and where pavement parking is allowed, markings should show how much pavement can be used.
"While councils have always had the powers to tackle problem parking, it would be typical if the only time they act is when there is fines income to be had from it."
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