Saša Novak Uí Chonchúir

Green Party Councillor for Limerick City North

Candidate in Local Elections on 7th June

Footpaths are for people

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A national campaign targeting the dangerous practice of parking on footpaths (and cycle lanes and bus stops) was launched recently at the request of my colleague Brian Leddin TD, in which the RSA and An Garda Síochána remind drivers that parking on footpaths or cycle lanes is unsafe and illegal.

Following the national campaign by the RSA and An Garda Síochána I asked that Limerick Council develop and deliver a similar education campaign locally, headed by our fantastic marketing department.

In their reply the Council have committed to liaise with the RSA and An Garda Síochána to develop an information/education campaign and also to use their own marketing department resources to drive the message of the campaign locally.

Two weeks ago we saw a hugely successful, unplanned campaign by Limerick Council’s head of communications, Laura Ryan, against the article in Forbes magazine that painted a terrible picture of our city. The reaction was far reaching and the positive messaging was overwhelming.

We need an innovative approach with a focus on positive messaging, with examples from our community, with people we know and can relate to, to target younger drivers via social media, combined with a more traditional approach through the printed media and radio. It won’t solve the problem overnight, but we need to start somewhere.

I submitted a motion on this issue to the metro meeting back in February.

I will move at the next Meeting (of the Metropolitan District of Limerick) that Limerick City and County Council develop and deliver a communication/education campaign about safe and appropriate parking practices, with a focus on the dangers of parking on footpaths, cycle lanes and bus stops.”

I could go on and on on this issue. I could present research findings and I could give you anecdotal evidence. But none of that really matters today. We all know, have seen or been impacted by vehicles blocking footpaths, bus stops and cycle lanes. Some of us may have ourselves done it in the past and some of us are still doing it today. I am convinced that nobody parks on the footpath out of malice, I believe people park on footpaths with great intentions thinking they are doing a good thing by keeping the roadway less obstructed and their wing mirrors more protected. I believe people are not aware that parking on footpaths is prohibited. I believe people don’t consider the wheelchair users, people with mobility aids, parents with buggies, parents with children who all have to either squeeze through a narrow gap or walk onto the roadway. And the danger is not just in the obstruction that a static parked vehicle creates. As a parent I have witnessed so many close calls of children needing to be pulled away as a driver is mounting the footpath to park on it. This isn’t the environment we want for our children.

I have spoken to my neighbour who is in her late 80s. She has one of those walkers that you fold together like an old fashioned fire blower. I mentioned that I saw similar walkers that have a seat incorporated so that a person can take a rest. She said she had it too but had to return it less than 2 weeks after purchasing it because she wasn’t able to go around with it because there were too many cars parked on the footpath and the gaps were too narrow for her comfortable walker to pass. Instead she had to get the foldable one she has now, that she has to push together like the old fashioned fire blower so she can squeeze past the cars and doesn’t have to walk on the road. This isn’t the environment we want for our elderly.

We’ve all seen parents pushing buggies into traffic because there is no space on the footpath. We have seen small children on their scooters and balance bikes on the busy road because there is no space on the footpath. We have seen wheelchairs pushed on the road because there is no space on the footpath. 

Parking on footpaths is not just restricted, it is prohibited. But I believe we need to make people aware of that before we demand enforcement action. 

* I like to break up my posts with photos, but decided against it, because I want to focus on the positive. But here’s a bonus one anyway.