Careless and thoughtless pavement parking might take a second, but Penny on Guide Dogs UK stand at the Labour Party Conference explains for a blind person it can mean terror, a day ruined and a dangerous dash onto a busy road.
Toby: So, Penny. We are talking today about pavement parking. As a blind person with a guide dog just explain what your life experience is and the impact pavement parking has on you.
Penny: When I go out for a walk with Fester, who is brilliantly trained to make sure I’m safe, I go out with a lot of confidence and then if I come across a car, she will do her very best to get past that car. So, she will try and find a way through, even if it’s going in someone’s driveway, but if she can’t she’s going to head to the curb and my only option is to go out into the road. Well, if it’s a very busy road that’s absolutely terrifying and of cause not at all safe. I’m responsible for her as well as she is for me so, I don’t want to cause her any harm and I can’t cross the road because I don’t even know if there’s a pavement on the other side so, my only options are to stand and wait for help or go home. If I go home, I might miss the appointment that I’ve got at the doctors, I might miss a job interview, I might miss my train. Different things can get impacted and it’s soul destroying. It’s really, really upsetting.
Toby: Just try and help people understand what it’s like to have to sort of, think about stepping out into a busy road that you don’t know whether you’re going to be walking past one car, walking past four, walking down the middle of the road. How does that actually feel?
Penny: I have so much doubt and terror because I want to do it. I want to keep going but I’m absolutely terrified. If you imagine walking down a road, not being able to see, particularly nowadays, with a lot of quieter vehicles. You’ve just got no way of knowing what’s coming. You don’t know it it’s going to be near you, if it’s going to see you and I don’t know how long I’m going to be walking for. So, it might be just a few feet, or it might end up she can’t get back on. You get to that point, and you just feel completely stranded and panic.
Toby: So, a guide dog gives you tremendous independence. One person parking on the pavement can take it away from you.
Penny. Absolutely. Which is just soul destroying.
Toby: Thank you.