Cars on pavements: is that selfish or is that selfish?

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Is there anything more unsocial than cars parked on pedestrian pavements? The picture above is from this site, which collects pictures of cars parked on pavements in Portugal, mainly in Lisbon. Last time I checked, the site contained 2591 pictures and a few videos. The pictures below are from the site’s Top 25 of the most horrific examples of cars on pavements.

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This kind of behaviour is annoying for all pedestrians but is potentially more dangerous for the elderly, children and people with visual impairments or restricted mobility.

In cities like Lisbon this problems is particularly relevant because it is more common in the older neighbourhoods of the city, where a large part of the residents are elderly and where pavements are already narrow because roads are also narrow.

Cars parked on pavements do not restrict only the mobility of pedestrians. They may also block traffic on the carriageway and cause delays to other road users, especially in narrow roads. In the case of Lisbon, cars parked on pavements often block trams and hold cars and buses behind them. The picture below is an example. A recent article in the Público newspaper (in Portuguese) gives an estimate of the problem: in 2013, badly parked cars were responsible for 454 hours of delays in the tram network, that is, 18 days.

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Unfortunately, the problem exists worldwide. Here’s just a sample of the problem, with plenty of examples provided by journalists and bloggers in cities around the world. Without leaving letter A, but travelling to 6 continents:

Athens, Ankara, Abidjan, Atlanta, Asunción and Auckland.

Nowadays, the internet is the main channel for activists fighting for pedestrian rights. For example, the first site mentioned in this post provides free stickers that can be placed on cars parked on pavements. The Living Streets movement in the UK also provide posters.

This type of activism is also a substitute of policing and law enforcement. This is because in many cities, enforcement of parking rules tends to be loose (but less so in areas near paid parking spaces…). Actually, police cars are also found on pavements quite often. Here’s one in Lisbon (already sporting a “don’t be selfish” sticker).

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Check other examples in Madrid and in an unnamed British city.

Actually, in some cases, if you complain about anti-social parking, you might even be subject to police brutality. It happened to this blind man in Wales who was arrested because a car was blocking the pavement and he dared to complain.

Placing stickers on cars parked on pavements may also get you arrested in many countries.

On the other hand, activists may also use the law to fight for pedestrian rights, for example, by starting legal proceedings against local governments who fail to enforce the law against parking on pavements.

Activists may also provide information on the internet for pedestrians to be protected from unsocial car drivers. For example, this site tells you what to do.

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