Alastair Dalton: Race to tackle pavement parkers

Picture: Kate Chandler
Picture: Kate Chandler
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AMONG the worst drivers’ many selfish acts, pavement parking probably takes the biscuit.

Blocking the path of pedestrians who are forced to squeeze through narrow gaps, or even on to the road, is infuriating.

In many cases, it comes down to sheer selfishness and laziness on the part of the motorist.

Some drivers have the mindset that they are entitled to park right outside their destination, regardless of the consequences for others.

If there’s the added irritant of double yellow lines to contend with, how much easier it is for them to just drive on to the pavement – and that’s them out of the way.

The excuses can be extraordinary. Like the mother driving her toddlers to nursery who justified parking her bulky 4x4 on the pavement outside the door because she needed to keep her children “safe”.

Pity then about their little friends and their parents, forced to negotiate the incongruous obstruction.

While being an inconvenience to many on foot, pavement parking is a far more serious challenge for those in wheelchairs, with sight problems or pushchairs, or simply people a little unsteady on their feet who are trying to do what health experts keep telling them – walk more.

But even more alarming are the long-term, permanent and potentially fatal consequences of damage to the pavement caused by vehicles – not just lorries.

A while back, a Fife Health Board official led a thought-provoking campaign against such damage, like cracks in the pavement and potholes, which led to pedestrians – especially the elderly – tripping, falling and in some cases forever losing their mobility and independence, some even dying early.

Well, a weapon to tackle the menace is on its way – but it’s been a long time coming and we’re not there yet.

Legislation was introduced at Holyrood three years ago by SNP back-bencher Joe FitzPatrick to make such inconsiderate parking illegal.

It has since been taken over by party colleague Sandra White, but then appeared to have hit a dead end last summer when officials told her it was outwith the parliament’s power.

Much work is now happening behind the scenes to get the bill back on track before its cut-off date in three months’ time, including apparently helpful signals from the UK government that it would help clear the way if extra powers need to be devolved.

It is now surely vital that politicians both sides of the Border focus on ensuring this law gets through – to help rid Scotland of the scourge of the pavement parker.

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