GUIDE dog users across the town are urging motorists to avoid parking on pavements.
Alan Fletcher, chairman of Swindon Guide Dogs, is backing a national campaign from The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, which highlights the dangers of pavement parking.
Alan, 64, of Stratton, has a 3/4in scar above his right eye after walking into a lorry which was parked on a pavement in Ermin Street, Stratton.
“They parked on the pavement while they were delivering something because of the narrowness of the road,” he said.
“I walked into the corner and cut my head. I went to hospital and had three stitches.”
A YouGov poll commissioned by Guide Dogs showed 49 per cent of drivers in the south west admit they park on the pavement, but many of them don’t think about the danger they pose to people with sight loss.
“Sometimes I just turn around and go back home again. It disorientates you because you don’t really know what is there. You’re afraid to go off the pavement and go on the road,” said Alan.
“My guide dog, Joy, is trained to go around any obstruction but that would end up with me and Joy walking along the road, which is dangerous for us and for people driving.
“They don’t expect to see a man and a dog walking on the road. I want people to think about where they are parking and how their parking could put other people’s lives at risk.
“They might think they are only going to be 10 minutes but that is enough time to cause problems.”
The YouGov poll also showed that many pavement parkers in the region haven’t thought about the possible risk they pose to other vulnerable road users, such as the elderly (48 per cent) and adults with prams (29 per cent).
Fay Moore, service delivery manager at Guide Dogs, said: “Cars parked on pavements are an everyday nightmare for blind and partially-sighted people, as well as other vulnerable pedestrians.
“Imagine how terrifying it is to step into a road when you can’t see on-coming traffic.
“Too often people with sight loss are forced out into busy roads because an inconsiderate motorist has blocked the pavement.
“It’s an unwanted barrier to the freedom and independence a guide dog brings.
“Councils in the south west have the tools to penalise drivers who park on pavements and Guide Dogs want them to act now.”
For more information visit www.guidedogs.org.uk.