Jun 23 2011 By Caroline Spelman
RECENTLY I met up with David Carrington-Porter, a constituent who has been blind since the age of seven.
He has been to University, had a professional career, and enjoys swimming, tandem cycling, and mountain trekking. David is an inspiration for the blind and visually impaired: he achieves much more than many sighted people would even consider.
One issue raised in my meeting with him is the problem of inconsiderate parking.
Drivers frequently leave vehicles part-parked on the pavement, without realising that in limiting the pavement for pedestrians, they are creating a real hazard for blind people who might stumble over these parked vehicles. So I hope that through this column I might raise awareness of a problem that is causing much concern for the blind and partially sighted. A blind person who uses a white stick needs to be able to move it from side to side to make sure that the way ahead is clear. Someone with a guide dog needs to have enough room for the animal too.
If the pavement is obstructed, necessary manoeuvres can become difficult – if not impossible – sometimes forcing the blind person out onto the road, where there is a danger of them being knocked over. Another problem is that blind people can get hit by low hanging branches, or shrubs, that they cannot see if they get forced towards hedges and gardens.
Disabled people with wheelchairs or mobility scooters might also be at risk if they find that there is no room for them, as a car is blocking the pavement. Parents, especially with a large pram, or a double buggy, often find similar problems.
Care is also needed when putting out recycling bins – please leave room for other pavement users. The last thing we want to do is to create hazardous situations for vulnerable people, whether they are visually impaired, disabled, or just being wheeled along by a parent, or carer.