We need pavements not obstacle paths

 

Sir, – As the mother of a small child who uses a white cane, I have become increasingly disturbed by the deterioration in the ability of pedestrians to access the urban realm through the use of safe and accessible streets.

Today is Make Way Day, a campaign that seeks to highlight the very many obstacles on footpaths that can make life difficult for vulnerable groups. Obstructions can take many forms and include everything from overgrown hedges and briars to badly parked bicycles fallen onto the pavement to be stumbled over by an unsuspecting passerby.

Our family’s experience is that by far the most problematic and frequent barrier to access is the incredible number of illegally parked cars that litter the city of Dublin every day.

Dublin City Council, like a number of councils around the nation, now relies almost exclusively on clamping to deter this type of behaviour and it employs a private company, Dublin Street Parking Services, to carry out enforcement of the law. This strategy has demonstrably failed. Now, like many families in the city, we find ourselves forced to walk onto the road on a daily basis, with a pram and a six-year-old child using a white cane, to navigate cars parked with all four wheels on the path.

Is it time perhaps to revitalise that local authority tradition of the traffic warden who we see so rarely now? Perhaps we could reimagine them as street wardens, who issue fines for dog fouling, badly placed bins and anti-social car parking? Private clamping will necessarily place profit and revenue at the heart of its operation when the quality of the street is in fact what we should be working towards. I know that is what would improve the daily experience of my young cane user. – Yours, etc,

NEASA HOURIGAN,

Chairwoman

of Policy Council,

Green Party Ireland,

Cabra, Dublin 7.