Parking on pavements affects many vulnerable groups:
Who is responsible for pedestrian safety in the UK?
A case study on the legality of footway parking
Introduction: Why the study was done
Risks to pedestrians
- footways have become impassible, particularly for the most vulnerable: those with disabilities, in pushchairs, in wheelchairs, or on mobility scooters
- numerous near misses have occurred from vehicles driven on to footways at speed
- an arrogant and selfish attitude towards pedestrians is developing
- Merseyside has the worst pedestrian reported KSI rate in Great Britain
- a January 2014 Wirral Council report stated "Pavement/verge parking is a major problem at peak times outside most of the school sites in the Borough", but provided no plan for effective action
- Guide Dogs, RNIB, National Federation of the Blind of the UK, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Living Streets are all campaigning for action
Clarity is fundamental in road safety
- Road safety depends on the three "E"s: Engineering, Education and Enforcement. If there is no clear statement of what is legal, how can engineers plan schemes, or road safety campaigns encourage compliance with the law, or the police enforce the law consistently?
- The October 2013 Transport Select Committee Report stated that "local authorities must ensure that they communicate clearly to motorists".
Merseyside Police officers and Wirral Council officers failed to give clear answers
- Merseyside Police and Wirral Council officers had given numerous different and contradictory statements
- Wirral Council reports were inconsistent
- Repeated requests for clarification had been ignored or evaded
- Commitments by Wirral Council officers to give written clarification had not been honoured
Contrast with other forms of transport
- The test of civilised society is often said to be how it treats its weakest members. Large resources are being devoted towards airport expansion, road building and HS2. Questions of safety in these sectors are dealt with professionally and with attention to detail. The contrast with the resources devoted to protecting vulnerable pedestrians when travelling on footways is stark and shameful.
Why this approach?
- Many Wirral residents had raised concerns over several years by letter, email and telephone and via attendance at public Police and Council meetings, but without any consistent response. It seemed that a more eye-catching approach was necessary.
- A common feature of tragedies affecting vulnerable children and adults has been that clear warning signs and genuine concerns were ignored by those in authority. Examples include the failures of child protection systems in Birmingham and Haringey.