Last week Cat visited a street scene set up in Parliament by the charity Guide Dogs to learn more about the challenges that people with sight loss face when walking the streets.
At the event Cat dodged a pavement parked car, stumbled across a variety of street clutter, and visited a “shared space” area lacking safety features such as kerbs and pedestrian crossings.
Guide dog owners told her that dealing with these obstacles can leave them scared and reluctant to go out.
“Too often, our streets can be cluttered with dangerous obstacles for blind and partially sighted people,” explained Cat. “The worst offenders are cars parked on the pavement. If you have a vision impairment, pavement parked cars aren’t just a nuisance, they can force you to step out into the road and put you in real danger. Outside London, the law on pavement parking is unclear and difficult to enforce. We want pavement parking to be the exception so pedestrians can rely on their path being clear. It’s a strong sign the law needs to change when drivers themselves don’t know the rules.”
In research by YouGov for Guide Dogs, two out of three drivers (65%) admitted having parked on the pavement and nearly half (46%) were confused by the law on pavement parking.
“Guide Dogs is campaigning for a law to make pavement parking an offence except on streets where local authorities agree that it is safe for pedestrians,” said Cat. “This is already the case in London, but elsewhere across the country, councils struggle to tackle unsafe pavement parking. Back in 2015, the Government committed to look into every option to tackle this serious problem. I hope they will now follow up with a new law on pavement parking.”