Campaigners have welcomed new measures that should make it easier for councils to stop motorists risking the safety of disabled pedestrians by parking on pavements.
Vehicles parked on pavements can force wheelchair-users, people with visual impairments and other disabled people into busy roads. They also damage pavements, making it more likely that people with visual and mobility impairments will trip and fall.
Liberal Democrat transport minister Norman Baker has now written to local authorities to ask them to use their powers to stop pavement parking where it is a problem.
The Department for Transport has also given permission to all councils in England to use traffic signs to indicate a local ban on pavement parking, rather than having to seek permission every time they want to do so. Parking on pavements is already banned across London.
Baker said: “Parking on the pavement can be selfish and dangerous, putting pedestrians – especially those with disabilities or using pushchairs – in danger.
“If a vehicle is blocking the pavement then people often have no choice but to walk in the road where they are at much greater risk of being involved in an accident.”
Jill Allen-King, public relations officer for the National Federation of the Blind of the UK, said the announcement was “really good news” as the federation had been campaigning on the issue since 1979, when it launched its Give Us Back Our Pavements campaign.
Her mother-in-law died in hospital following a fall she sustained tripping on a pavement damaged by a lorry continually parking on it, she said.
She added: “It is not only the hazard it creates, you also can’t get past with your guide dog and have to go out into the road.”
Helen Dolphin, director of policy and campaigns at the charity Mobilise, also welcomed the government’s announcement.
She said cars parking on pavements can block the path of wheelchair-users, who have to put themselves in danger by using the road instead.
And she said councils could do far more to use the enforcement powers they already have to keep pavements clear of all obstructions.