Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Minister is warning motorists that pavement parking is placing pedestrians of all ages in unnecessary danger.

Nichola Mallon MLA made the comments as she launched a new campaign called ‘Think Before You Park’ which aims to highlight the consequences of pavement parking, and the ways in which it can impact on other road users.

A vehicle that partially or fully blocks a pavement often means children, pensioners and those with disabilities having to take to the road where they are met by oncoming cars, busses and lorries.

From a traffic flow perspective, vehicles that aren’t parked on pavements help buses keep to their timetable, assists delivery drivers, and ensures spaces for Blue Badge holders remain unobstructed.

“Parking on pavements puts everyone using the pavements at risk,” said Minister Mallon. “Drivers often mistakenly think they are doing the right thing by keeping the road clear but fail to realise the consequences of their vehicle blocking the way for people using the footpath.

“The reality is that a seemingly harmless act of parking on pavements, even for a short time, puts people in danger, making them feel vulnerable and at risk.

“The risk is heightened in particular for people who are visually or hearing impaired, people with mobility issues using wheelchairs and mobility scooters, those pushing prams, children, older people and those who have dementia and autism.

“Parking on the pavement at a junction also blocks the view for drivers emerging from a side road, by causing an obstruction, making them unable to see oncoming vehicles, including cyclists and motorcyclists or perhaps even pedestrians,” she added.

“The campaign encourages drivers to be mindful of the consequences of parking your vehicle on a pavement and to think about the needs of others.

“No one would ever intentionally block anyone’s path if they needed to use the pavement, however, some drivers are unknowingly doing just that. I am asking drivers to be considerate and remember: ‘Think Before You Park’.”

To increase the effectiveness of the message that is being rolled out by Minister Mallon’s department, civil servants engaged with representatives from the Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee (IMTAC).

This group was set up to advise Government and others in positions of influence in Northern Ireland on issues that affect the mobility of older citizens and disabled people.

Welcoming the new campaign, IMTAC Chairperson Bert Baili said: “Together with many other organisations IMTAC has requested action to address the problem of obstructions on pavements caused by illegally or inconsiderately parked vehicles. 

“We have numerous first-hand accounts from older people, disabled people and others about the impact that thoughtless pavement parking has on their lives.  It is important for wider society to understand this impact and I encourage everyone to think twice about how and where they park.”

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