Ireland needs to crack down on drivers who park their cars on footpaths, according to disability and pedestrian groups.
The Limerick Pedestrian Network (LPN) says it's ‘crazy’ to invest millions in footpaths and cycle lanes while allowing people to park on pavements with impunity.
The group will today warn the Oireachtas Justice Committee that the ‘widespread abuse of pavement parking’ is causing real difficulties for parents, children and people with disabilities.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, LPN chair Madeleine Lyes said there are three ways to tackle the issue – enforcement, street design and education.
“We’re talking about where cars are parked up and people have to squeeze by or go out and around, into the road, in order to get passed,” she said.
“This is illegal in Ireland but the problem is that the vast majority don’t really understand that it’s illegal and don’t really understand that they’re causing difficulties for people when they do it.
“Most people, I think, think they’re kind of being conscientious when they pull up. You know, I’m getting my car out of the way of traffic – but of course, they’re putting their car into the way of pedestrian traffic.”
She said the issue is “particularly menacing for people with mobility issues, visually impaired people, people with little kids, people with buggies and people with guide dogs”.
“So, kind of, across our lives, there are different points at which pavement parking causes real trouble,” she said.
Ms Lyes said increased enforcement of the law involves more fines and more penalty points.
“We have some on-the-spot fines happening in the Irish context a bit in Dublin,” she said.
“There is a very, very tiny number of penalty points – about 0.1% of all penalty points last year were for pavement parking.”
She said changing street design is often the most effective solution.
“For example, in the Netherlands, instead of having double yellow lines where you can’t park, they have bays where you can park,” she said. “That is what they emphasise.
“Or you can designate alternate sides or one particular side of the road for parking while the other side is not.”
On education, she said people need to understand that “they’re not doing the nice thing by pulling up on the path”.
“One-in-five visually impaired people have been injured by a car in the street and there are a quarter of a million visually impaired people in Ireland,” she said.
“80% of wheelchair users have changed their routes in order to avoid this type of thing.
“If we’re trying to change how we use transport in Ireland. If we’re moving away from the car and investing millions of Euro on making paths and cycle lanes better, then to have, at the same time, impunity for pavement parking is crazy.”
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