People on footpaths deserve a fair go

People on footpaths deserve the same consideration as people using mobility car parks, says walking advocacy group Living Streets Aotearoa.

Fines for those illegally using mobility car parks are set to rise to $150, while the fine for parking on a footpath remains at $40.

Living Streets Aotearoa President, Celia Wade-Brown says, "Why do we care more about a person with disabilities if they drive than if they are on the footpath?"

While she welcomes the likely increase of the fine for mobility park transgressors up to $150, she urges Transport Minister Annette King to amend the Land Transport (Offences & Penalties) Regulations 1999 to send a clear message about the need to be considerate when parking one's car.

"People in wheelchairs, mobility scooters, walking frames and blind people with canes or guide dogs need clear footpaths too."

"I'm very sympathetic about stopping mobility parks being abused by lazy people. I am also concerned about the number of vehicles parking on the footpath so they obstruct passage for wheelchairs, pushchairs and other pedestrians with limitations on their mobility."

The real cost of a fine for footpath parking continues to erode and isn't much of a disincentive at $40, given the unlikelihood of being ticketed.

Ms Wade-Brown initiated the yellow feet flyers used by Living Streets members to discourage footpath parking in their neighbourhoods.

"Often it's a case of not thinking about the problems other people face - whether it's children walking to school and being faced with vans driving up onto footpaths, or wheelchair users being forced onto the road where there aren't kerb ramps, or blind pedestrians having to negotiate their way around vehicles that may have items protruding dangerously that cannot be detected by a cane."

"People need to think of each others' needs before their own convenience. Sometimes drivers think they are helping other drivers by keeping out of the road carriage on narrow streets - but then the most vulnerable people suffer."

Living Streets member, Alexia Pickering, says, "Last Saturday I was unable to access a footpath leading to my apartment because a van had parked itself lengthwise on the footpath outside. I had to travel along the road in my wheelchair and was helped up onto the footpath by a stranger who came to my assistance."

Ms Wade-Brown, who is also a Wellington City Councillor, encourages Council staff and Parkwise to look after people's best interests and resist caving into lazy drivers' demands. "Places to park will always be limited in a compact walkable city. There's no inalienable right to park on the footpath outside one's own garage!"

She attributes some of the problem to the high car ownership in New Zealand - currently around 627 cars per 1,000 people.

Living Streets Aotearoa is New Zealand’s national walking and pedestrian advocacy group.

For more information:

Celia Wade-Brown, President, Living Streets Aotearoa, 027 483 6691
Liz Thomas, Director Living Streets Aotearoa, 04 472 8280 or 021 106 4201

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