Parking on Pavements: Take A Walk In My World

Emily Davison and guide dog UnityHave you ever faced a barrier?

Throughout our lives everyone will encounter barriers that prevent us from undertaking tasks that we need or desire to do. Whether they be mental, emotional or physical, obstructions will arise that we all experience a desire to combat. But when these barriers become physical this can make things much more difficult.

My name is Emily Davison. I’m a blogger and semi-professional journalist from the UK who also happens to work with my guide dog Unity. As a writer and BA student of English, traveling has become second nature to me and it is something that I now particularly enjoy. But, from time to time, a guide dog will face certain obstacles that may cross their path when they least expect them.

Throughout my life as a visually impaired youth and now as a commuter and a guide dog owner I have regularly experienced cars parked on pavements which have forced both myself and my guide dog to step into the uncertainty of the road. Despite the fact that many have dubbed me an adrenaline fanatic I am not the kind of individual who revels in the prospect of putting my safety in direct risk.

One afternoon when I was heading home after a busy morning of lectures, I was walking to the train station. On attempting to cross the road I discovered that there was a rather large car parked firmly and squarely on the pavement. I found myself shaking my head and thinking,

‘This world has gone mad; it’s like living in a Surrealist painting. Everything is topsy turvy. It is as if the road is for the pedestrian and the pavement is for the car.’

But, having no other alternative, I decided to encourage my guide dog to remember her off kerb obstacles training and walk into the road around the parked car until we could return to our rightful place on the pavement. Stepping onto the road I discovered that a car was speedily traveling towards me.

The road was only a one way street and thus there was not enough room for both car and pedestrian. It was at this point that my guide dog sharply tugged me back to the pavement and stood firmly in front of me to prevent me from walking back into the road.

Whist I remain utterly indebted to my dear four legged friend for her act of protecting me, it left me feeling stunned and angry at the situation. Pavement parking is a commonplace fear for many different individuals from guide dog owners, to wheelchair users, elderly pedestrians and parents with babies in a pram. Pavement parking is a daunting prospect for many travellers and it is something that urgently needs to be addressed.

Guide Dogs is campaigning for laws prohibiting pavement parking across the UK, unless specifically permitted, as has been in place in Greater London since 1974. After the success of the Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill, another bill, the Pavement Parking Bill, aimed at putting a stop to problem pavement parking in England and Wales, will have its Second Reading on 9 January. I would encourage anyone who wants to support the campaign to take Guide Dogs’ action and write to their MP and ask them to support this bill.

My hopes for the national prohibition of parking on pavements would be that this would create a law that was widely known and respected by the general public. This would be a huge milestone in defending the security of everyone who chooses to walk their local pavements.

After all the pavement is for the pedestrian and the road is for the car and it is imperative that it remains this way.

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Campaigns Team, 12:00am Fri 26 Sep 2014:

Hi Ben, thanks for your comment. Pavement parking affects indeed many other people, not just blind and partially sighted pedestrians. There is currently a patchwork of policies across the UK on this issue and this causes confusion amongst drivers and pedestrians. This is why we are campaigning for a law that would finally put a stop to this irresponsible practice. You can support the campaign by taking the online action available at and you can read about the progress of our campaign here:

Ben, 10:52am Sat 20 Sep 2014:

I completely agree with your sentiment; even as a fully sighted person, pavement parking is a nightmare. It's not just a blight for pedestrians, though. As a motorcyclist, constantly having to be aware of people having to step into the narrow streets around poorly parked cars makes any city journey fraught and nerve-wracking. I'm not blaming yourselves, I have nothing but respect for you all and leave as much as space as physically possible - or safe. I wish there was something concrete we could all do to end this. Petitions are all well and good, but it's time for action from those who can really make changes.

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