This picture dropped onto my news feed a few days ago and I was shocked by some of the comments that followed. One particularly ignorant gem read ‘…they park to allow other cars through otherwise everyone’s stuck, there is always access on another pavement.’ Um … no. All over Britain, dropped kerbs remain an alien concept and, on the off chance there is one, a wheelchair user runs the risk of getting jammed into some pothole or other that a car or walking person would go straight over, some other sod has parked over it, or the classic that no-one wants to acknowledge – disabled people often do not have the strength of able bodied people or that we are so exhausted by negotiating obstacles in the street that we might simply run out of steam halfway across.
A lot of roads in this country are old and barely wide enough for two cars to pass side by side, let alone park so I get that the traffic will just bottle neck and jam if streets aren’t misused. But nobody is considerate if they do need to use the pavement. People want to park as close to their destination as possible in order to put in the minimum effort actually getting there so they’ll swing in and stop without checking to see if they’re overhanging the path too much, leaving enough room for a wheelchair, buggy or mobility scooter to pass or enter a building, blocking a driveway. This used to happen daily at my old house. People would park over our drive, on our drive, half on the drive and filling the street. And all because they were only going to be 5 minutes while they popped to the doctor/chippy/chemist. Many times I was forced to park elsewhere and wheel across to my own bleeding house! Sometimes, if a car had blocked the street I had to wait outside (in sub zero temperatures occasionally) because I couldn’t get my chair over water-logged, uneven and half-frozen grass.
To be honest, until a few years ago, I didn’t truly realise how widespread a problem this was. For many years after becoming reliant on my chair, venturing beyond my city comfort zone was a bit too much but now I go here, there and everywhere and see what happens.
If you are able, then by all means, find another route if you need to but please consider that not everyone can. Nor should we. Pavements were made for pedestrians after all. The world doesn’t work as well as some people seem to naively think it does. Streets are not completely flat. Kerbs rarely drop to the ground. If you are taking a while to move, most of the dreadful human race still will not think twice about manhandling you out of their way. If you have the nerve to complain about your rights being ignored then you’re blacklist with the entire walking world for not being grateful they let you live. And the few who are decent enough to park as helpfully as possible… there are so many other vehicles on the road parked obstructively that your thoughtfulness often doesn’t even get noticed. Sorry. The worst case of this I have seen was a black car belonging to a bloody driving instructor parked across my drive! No, wait, it was guy sitting in the cab of a lorry- so about a million feet higher than me, blocking the whole of a busy high street but a gap just big enough for Olive Oyl to get through. The only way to pass him was to step into a busy road and play with traffic or take back roads round the whole high street. I’d still be there if a friend hadn’t been helping push me.
So… my solution. It’s a controversial one, I admit. Legalise criminal damage against people who park like douches. Not like burning their cars or putting explosives in their exhaust. Just casually taking out a window or a light here and there.