Hello everyone, welcome back to my column this week.
You may have heard about a campaign to highlight the difficulty that people with sight loss, mobility problems or mothers with prams face when trying to negotiate vehicles parked on footpaths.
Often they are forced out into the carriageway as guide dogs cannot work through confined narrow spaces and wheelchairs/prams need space to safely pass. The campaign is a partnership between leading sight loss charity, Guide Dogs NI, disability charity, The Cedar Foundation, and the PSNI. Imagine how you would feel if you couldn’t see how many parked cars you had to negotiate whilst walking along a live lane of traffic? Many people just give up and go back home where they run the real risk of social isolation and exclusion. However, it is important to recognise that in some urban areas where homeowners don’t have the luxury of a driveway, that partial pavement parking is the only viable option to maintain access for refuse lorries, emergency vehicles etc.
We throw the car up on a kerb thinking we’re doing the best thing by keeping the road clear. But this has a direct impact on pedestrians and that impact is only made worse for someone with mobility issues. Ultimately, we’re calling on drivers to use 2017 to be more responsible when it comes to parking their cars.
What does the law currently say? Parking on yellow lines: Whether the car is partially or complete on double yellow lines, or entirely on the pavement alongside double yellow lines, Transport NI’s traffic attendants are responsible for enforcement.
Obstructing the pavement: This is a police issue when the vehicle is causing an obstruction – meaning it is not possible for pedestrians to pass. The police use a threshold test of whether a guide dog and its owner, a wheelchair or children’s pushchair could pass – this equates to roughly 1.5 metres. Police can issue a fixed penalty notice and may have the vehicle towed.
Parking in an urban clearway: Vehicles parked in an urban clearway during operational hours should be reported to Transport NI traffic attendants. This includes vehicles parked fully on the pavement alongside an urban clearway.
Blocking pedestrian dropped kerbs: If the kerb is defined with double yellow lines, parking attendants will deal with it. If there are no yellow lines but a reported obstruction occurs, police may deal with it through fixed penalty notice.
Blocked driveways: If you are unable to exit, police can deal with the offence by ticketing and potentially towing. However, best practice means that knocking on doors can generally resolve the issue.
Parking within 15 metres of a junction: This can be dealt with by Transport NI traffic attendants or the PSNI by ticketing.
Please keep vigilant and report any suspicious activity to us. In a non-emergency please dial 101 in an emergency 999. You can report non-emergency crimes/incidents online at www.psni.police.uk.