THOUGHTLESS drivers parking across suburban footpaths are making life dangerous for people with disabilities, old folks and parents pushing prams.
Disability advocate Suresh Rajan lives in Yokine and goes for prodigious walks every morning, routinely racking up 15km or more, but he doesn’t have to walk far before spotting the first car across the footpath.
For able-bodied folk it’s a mild annoyance, but for people in wheelchairs, on gophers, pushing a pram or getting around on a walking frame it can mean a dangerous detour onto the road.
“In some suburbs, and particularly around Vincent, if you go along Charles Street there’s absolutely no parking areas on the verge, it’s really hard,” Mr Rajan says.
“What about someone who’s blind? That person has to go out into the road. There’s potential for a serious accident there. And even people pushing prams, you now have to take the child and the pram off the pavement and onto the road. It’s more than an inconvenience.”
Suburbs like North Perth were built before cars and are hotspots for path-blockers, and with young people living with their parents longer, there can often be three or four cars vying for a spot on the driveway.
Peta Crane lives in Kalamunda and even up there it’s a big issue. Last summer she was taking her dog for a walk on her gopher and tried to navigate around a car blocking the path.
Her gopher tipped over on the verge and she fell heavily onto the searing road, stuck there until a passing motorcyclist stopped to help.
She told the car’s owner about what had happened, then carried on, only to find another car blocking the path three doors down. A few weeks later the first car was back, blocking the pavement.
Ms Crane says some people with disabilities give up and just go home.
“People need to put themselves in other people’s shoes,” Ms Crane says. “It’s not okay to block the path. I do see it a lot. I’m not knocking tradesman but they’re specialists in it.”
Mr Rajan says many people don’t realise it’s illegal: “A lot of people don’t actually know,” he says, and most people when reminded are happy to move their cars.
He’s contacting councils with a plan to get stickers printed up that can be slapped on offending cars alerting them to the law, and has already heard back from Stirling mayor Giovanni Italiano who’s promised to look into the issue. A similar plan has been used to good effect for people parking in disabled bays.
“I don’t think it’s necessary for us to go down the path of punitive action in the first instance,” Mr Rajan says. “If someone’s a repeat offender you can address the issue with fines.”
He says he’d like to have the sticker campaign ready for December 3, international Day of People with Disability.
by DAVID BELL