13.1. Designated Accessible Parking
All developments need to ensure that adequate disability car-parking spaces are maintained or provided as close as possible to residencies, and to shopping areas. Currently, such provision is left to the individual Local Authorities, themselves, or to the private operators of shopping centres, etc., but this needs to be put on a much firmer legislative footing.
13.2. General Access to All Other Designated Parking
All other car-parking spaces need to be safely accessible by vulnerable pedestrians, including the elderly and those with cognitive impairments. This effectively means that they should not have to cross uncontrolled crossings or cycle-tracks to access private passenger vehicles, and nor should they be in danger of being struck by a car or bicycle by merely stepping outside a vehicle.
Since 2018, a system of ‘protected cycle lanes’ (i.e., parking cars parallel to the carriageway/footway) has been introduced to Ireland (by Dublin City Council, from New York City). This system is designed to widen carriageway width, allowing for the installation of cycle-tracks.
This parallel system (as opposed to the traditional perpendicular system), has two types, both lethal.
The first is where a car parks parallel to the footway on one side, and immediately parallel to a cycle-track on the other. Often, the leeway for door-opening of cars on the right is not wide enough, and where this is the case, this means that those alighting from the right side of the car are opening the door and exiting directly onto a cycle-track.
The second system (also known as “parking protected cycle tracks” etc.), is doubly lethal, since the cycle-track is between the parked car and the footway. Again, often, when not enough leeway is given for the opening of car or van doors, etc., people alighting on the right are opening their door into oncoming traffic from behind, and exiting out into the path of general traffic. On the left, the passengers are opening their doors directly into the paths of cyclists coming from behind, and they themselves are exiting straight into a cycle-lane.
Even where enough leeway is given for the opening of doors in this second system, pedestrians still have to run the gauntlet of a cycle lane – either one-way or two-way.
The latter parallel parking (a.k.a. ‘protected cycling facilities’), system, in particular, is an example of ignorant design, both in terms of overlooking the potential hazards to cyclists, as well as the potential hazards to pedestrians – both with and without disabilities. It should be remembered that even many drivers are also vulnerable pedestrians.
Example of bad practice
North Brunswick Street, Dublin; Lombard Street, Dublin 2.
13.3. Illegal Parking of Bicycles and Motorbikes on Public Footways
The Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations (s.i. 182/1997, S36, 2 (i), makes it illegal for any vehicle (including bicycles) to be parked on public footways. Unfortunately, this legislation is being flouted on a regular basis throughout our urban areas.
For example, even while dockless or stationless bike schemes allow docking to existing Sheffield stands, they are often tied to lampposts and pedestrian crossing poles etc. Other pedestrians sometimes knock them over by accident or indeed, deliberately, presenting a trip hazard. However, even if left upright, bicycles and motorcycles tied onto poles (and particularly pedestrian crossing poles), can cause unnecessary injury. Safe and secure free cycle parking must be encouraged and expanded.
Example of bad practice
Bicycles tied to Pedestrian crossing pole – Jervis St, Dublin 1.Link to image: https://tinyurl.com/y76mwsty
Authorities need to enforce the prohibition of such hazardous parking by cyclists and motorcyclists. In particular, it would appear that the Garda Síochána have a significant role in enforcing the law here, and thus protecting vulnerable pedestrians.
Also, safe and adequate cbicycle parking facilities need to be provided by Local Authorities and private owners of shopping centres etc. National legislation may be required to standardize such provision.
Example of best practice
Drury St (off South Great Georges Street) Carp Park, Dublin 2.
Drury Street Cycle Parking with capacity for 332 bicycles, well lit and monitored by CCTV.
Also see example of best practice guidelines by a municipal authority:
Dublin City Council – Where to park your bicycle:Link Article: https://tinyurl.com/qwkha6f
13.4. Illegal Parking by Larger Vehicles on Public Footways
Section 36 (2) (i) of S.I. No. 182/1997 – Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations, (Prohibitions on parking), states that “A vehicle shall not be parked on a footway, a grass margin or a median strip”.
“The Rules of the Road” published by the Road Safety Authority covers this on P140 (No Parking) and the offence of “Dangerous Parking” on P142 for which a Garda can isssue a fixed charge of €80 and up to 5 penalty points. P208 (Schools) states that “it is an offence if your vehicle blocks a footpath or a cycle track”.
Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs at the AA talks to Ivan Yates on Newstalk about the rules of parking in Ireland.
Of course, also forbids parking by all other vehicles on public footways, and again, this is regularly flouted in our urban areas.
All work of appropriate width of public footways is undone when a car, van, or truck, parks in that space. Wheelchair-users can find their way to be completely blocked, as can other users including people pushing buggies, and indeed, people with a vision impairment, and as such, find themselves having to risk everything by going out on the carriageway in order to get around the illegal obstacle.
A British Department for Transport review of the efficacy of ‘pavement parking’ regulations (2019) finds that such careless and hazardous parking causes serious problems for 98% of wheelchair-users, and 95% of pedestrians with a vision impairment, as well as many carers of children who use buggies and prams etc. We can surmise, also, that other vulnerable pedestrians (such as children under 14 and adults over 75, as well as pedestrians of all ages with other disabilities), are also negatively impacted by this practice. As of 2020, Britain is moving closer to nationwide general bans on ‘pavement parking’.
For pedestrians with a vision impairment, there is the added problem of not knowing of the existence of the vehicle until it is too late – i.e., they have collided with it. Vehicles of all sizes are hazards in this respect, but those with high chassis, in particular, cause more grievous injuries, to the extent that an articulated lorry meets the face of a blind person in the collision.
Examples of dangerous practices
The solutions recommended by the VVI are as follows:
a). New Legislation to Strengthen Ireland’s Ban on Parking on Footways: following from the British Department for Transport review into the efficacy of ‘pavement parking’ regulations (2019), Britain has embarked on consultations (as of 2020) with a view to imposing a default national ban on this practice (but tailored to suit diverse rural, suburban, and urban environments).
As is the current situation in most of Britain, in Ireland, policing of this practice is a law enforcement matter (by the Garda Síochána in the Republic of Ireland). In Scotland, legislation has already been passed to make most ‘pavement parking’ illegal by 2021, and this will be easily enforcible by local authorities. This situation has pertained in London since 1974.
VVI recommends the promulgation and enactment of legislation in the Oireachtas, along the same lines as that already existing in Scotland and London, respectively. Such legislation needs to make sure that local authorities are properly resourced to exercise their new powers.
b). In the meantime, members of the Garda Síochána should be encouraged to take a more interested approach in the noticing of and dealing with such illegal and hazardous parking. To facilitate the reporting of such dangerous obstacles, details of all local garda station phone and email addresses should be easily available on garda.ie, in a way that allows sending directly from a user’s email client, so that they can send photos of the offending vehicles (with registration numbers etc.).
c). Municipal authorities should encourage clampers to have a zero tolerance where it comes to parking on public footways.
d). On an ongoing basis, relevant authorities should run hard-hitting safety campaigns reminding motorists that it is not in their personal interest to so endanger vulnerable pedestrians.
e). To create much-needed awareness, Insurance Companies, Motor Tax office, Driving Licence issuing authority and National Car Testing Service could print something on the flip side of correspondence they send out or include a flyer highlighting the dangers of blocking paths and also point out the penalty points and fines that apply.
13.5. Vehicles Causing an Obstruction at Bus-Stops
The 1997 Road Traffic Regulations also makes it an offense to cause an obstruction with a vehicle, other than illegally parking on footways. This includes S36, 2 (l), which prohibits any vehicle other than a bus from parking at a bus-stop. There is no explicit mention in the legislation with regard to their parking for extended periods of time at bus-stops, but S36, 2 (k), prohibits parking ‘in a manner in which it will interfere with the normal flow of traffic or which obstructs or endangers other traffic’.
Coaches and cars regularly park at bus-stops, preventing buses from pulling in to pick up passengers. In such cases, a bus may stop behind the bus-stop, or else, out on the road (with the offending vehicle parked between the would-be pedestrian and the bus which they wish to get.
Indeed, this can happen where too many buses are using the one stop and some buses are not running on time – a phenomenon known as ‘clustering’ or ‘bunching’.
Where the desired bus has to park behind the bus-stop, a passenger with a severe vision impairment:
a). will find it difficult to know that their bus has arrived;
b). will find it difficult to locate it safely;
c). alighting passengers with severe vision impairments will find it difficult to know where they have just been dropped off.
Where the desired bus is forced to park the other side of an offending vehicle, the following problems arise
a). the would-be passenger with a severe vision impairment will not know it has arrived;
b). the alighting passenger with a severe vision impairment will not know where they are in relation to the footway;
c). both would-be and alighting passengers with a severe vision impairment must negotiate their way around the offending vehicle, causing disorientation – since they do not know where the door or footway are, respectively. Such confusion is dangerous, and could lead to serious accidents.
Examples of the problem
3 buses bunching at Blanchardstown Centre.
Google Maps Link: https://goo.gl/maps/mdzW2Ab6e84jPakH7link showing services from stop 4747: https://tinyurl.com/vm4gy2z
Vehicles parking at and blocking Bus Éireann stop in Killorglin, Co. Kerry.Link article: https://www.killarneytoday.com/disgraceful-drivers-put-joan-ann-risk/
a). Bus stops need to be planned so that expected volume of buses in worst-case-traffic scenario does not lead to bunching at stops. In other words, more bus stops may need to be added, and respectively assigned to services which partially share routes, so that this phenomenon does not occur.
b). Local Authority plans and planners need to take into account the potential hazards of bunching as a serious issue which needs to be avoided at all times.
c). as mentioned in previous subsections, national legislation needs to be promulgated and enacted which gives local authorities the power and resources to police obstructive parking at bus stops.
d). in the meantime, members of an Garda Síochána should be encouraged to pay closer attention to such infringements of the existing laws.
13.6. Vehicles Causing Obstructions on Carriageways
Legally, vehicles have to park away from pedestrian crossings (i.e., not interfere with the passage of pedestrians at such crossings) (s.i. 182/1997, S36, 2 (h).
Where vehicles are (illegally) parked on the carriageway at controlled or uncontrolled crossings, they obstruct the path of all pedestrians, but they cause particular hazard to vulnerable pedestrians. For example, when a blind pedestrian reasonably thinks that they are about to get to the other side of a carriageway, and instead collide with an obstructing vehicle, injuries are likely to ensue – the higher the chassie, the worse the injury (as a rule of thumb). Moreover, such unnecessary collisions can disorientate them and cause vulnerable pedestrians to inadvertently endanger themselves afterwards. Similarly, if an obstructing vehicle is preventing a vulnerable pedestrian from crossing the road, injury is likely, and circumnavigation of the vehicle may cause disorientation, particularly when the crossing-point is not the usual or proper one.
a). the current legislation needs to be enforced.
b). new legislation should be promulgated to also give Local Authorities the power to act on such transgressions.
13.7. Occupied Vehicles Obstructing Pedestrians at Crossings
At signal crossings, some drivers are prone to stopping at the lights directly in the path of crossing pedestrians (i.e., on the actual crossing). This is liable to cause injury to blind pedestrians, and particularly bad injuries where the chassie of the vehicle is highest. Moreover, the vulnerable pedestrian is likely to be disorientated, and inadvertently endanger themselves in the aftermath – for instance the extra time it will take them to circumnavigate the obstructing vehicle may lead them to walk out in front of oncoming traffic on the opposite side of the carriageway, or indeed, cause them to lose all orientation so that they veer off into a traffic-flow.
This practice is often in violation of the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations, s.i., 182/1997, S30, 3.
Example of the problem
Pedestrian crossing from O’Connell Bridge to Eden Quay, Dublin 1.Link to image: https://tinyurl.com/ydxyj8rp