Llanelli AM Lee Waters on moves to reclaim pavement space and slow traffic in a bid to improve safety for all
LAST week I was able to announce that the Welsh Labour Government is taking action to tackle pavement parking across Wales.
The climate crisis, a huge air quality problem and the obesity crisis all mean we need to do things differently. I think walking and cycling can be part of the answer to all of those issues if we encourage them and remove some of the obstacles, like pavement parking, that people tell us about.
At the moment, parking on the pavement isn’t normally illegal, though drivers can be fined for parking dangerously or causing an unnecessary obstruction. We know there have been issues with enforcement over the years, with neither the police or the council having enough manpower to properly apply the rules. Sometimes it’s not even clear who should be applying the rules. Some of this needs to change, and whilst Welsh Government doesn’t have all the powers there are things we can do.
This isn’t about penalising drivers. Many of our houses and streets designed at a time when families were lucky to own one car are now faced with households owning two or more cars. We need a balance, and at the moment it’s too in favour of parked cars. We need our urban spaces to be designed for people first, and for them to be pleasant spaces to walk, cycle and live in.
If we want to encourage more walking and cycling, and make places more accessible then we can’t continue like this. I often hear of situations where people with prams, those with mobility issues and young children are diverted into the road to get around an inconsiderately parked car.
I’ve already tasked the Welsh Government with looking at ways in which we can enforce 20mph speed limits in all residential areas of Wales. We know that will slow traffic down and save lives. Making the changes on a Wales wide level will also mean it’s simpler for people to understand what is and isn’t allowed.
If we are going to create cities, towns and villages where it’s safe for everyone to walk and cycle for everyday journeys, then we have to reclaim pavement space from parked cars and slow traffic down. I’m proud to be taking action to do that, because I know it will make our lives better.