A blind man from South Wales is calling for an end to pavement parking after he was hit by a car in December.
Steve Lawrence, 62, from Talbot Green, was walking home with his shopping on a residential street when he encountered two cars parked on the pavement. Steve, who uses a long cane to detect obstacles on his route, tried to avoid them.
But one of the cars began to drive along the pavement before pulling out into the road, hitting Steve in the arm and damaging his cane beyond repair.
Steve said: “I’ve been blind since 2014 and have had bad experiences with vehicles parked on pavements before, but this was the worst. I use my cane to follow the curb when walking along a street, so it is difficult to stay on the pavement when there are cars in the way.
“I was able to get past that time but then one started up and bumped me. The driver then swore at me before driving away and obviously I wasn’t able to see what car he was driving or get a licence plate number.”
Steve was in pain following the incident on December 10th 2019, but it wasn’t until after Christmas that he realised how badly his shoulder was injured.
Steve continued: “I went to the doctor in the new year because the pain still hadn’t gone away. They referred me to physiotherapy, I go once a week and I also do special exercises every day. I am a campaigner and volunteer and have missed many important meetings and appointments because of my injury.
“The situation was so frustrating because I couldn’t do anything about it and the driver didn’t even apologise. I am very independent and confident walking alone, but this made me nervous to walk in that area for a while. I worry that other blind and partially sighted people in similar situations would have their confidence knocked and be less likely to leave the house as a result.
“I encourage drivers across Wales to think about the impact parking on pavements has on people with less mobility and support a ban on pavement parking across the country.”
Pavement parking is currently only illegal in central London, but many MPs, AMs and campaigners are calling for a nationwide ban. In January the National Assembly of Wales’ Petitions Committee began considering an 800-name petition advocating for a ban. Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters AM has since set up a Taskforce Group to investigate the issue and explore potential solutions. The group aims to report its findings in June.
RNIB Cymru Campaigns Officer Kirsty James said: “Steve’s experience highlights the problems blind and partially sighted people face when getting out and about, and the impact this can have on quality of life.
“Clear pavements are essential for blind and partially sighted people, and parking on pavements can cause serious problems. Vehicles parked partly or fully on pavements obstruct walkways and often can’t be detected by people with sight loss until it is too late. Many blind and partially sighted people collide with the parked vehicles, at best losing confidence of independence and at worst resulting in injury.
“Making sure walkways are safe and accessible is everyone’s responsibility. We will continue to support a ban on pavement parking and are keen to contribute to the Taskforce Group discussion, and we hope to see real change happening across Wales in 2020.”