Mother-of-two Nicky Askew, 53, from Anchorsholme, is both visually and hearing impaired and says she and her guide dog face daily danger, which she hope the campaign by the Guide Dogs charity can help alleviate.
A dance fitness fanatic, Nicky takes great joy in her independence and attending her weekly classes, but because of her visual and hearing impairments, Nicky’s ability to judge traffic distance leaves her fearing for her life.
Navigating a road with cars parked on the pavement leaves her constantly vulnerable to danger, as she is sometimes forced to step into the road, despite not being able to hear oncoming traffic very well, and asking for outside help isn’t always a safe option.
Although Nicky’s guide dogs have been lifesaving, with her first guide dog Tillie winning a bravery award for saving her and her family from a house fire in 2015, she says her guide dog saves her life every day when navigating pavement parking.
It comes as new research from Guide Dogs shows that eight in 10 people admit to knowing that pavement parking impacts the safety of visually impaired pedestrians but continue to park on pavements regardless.
Nicky, who is registered blind from macular degeneration, extreme high myopia and nystagmus, as well as a scar on her retina. says the danger she faces often leaves her filled with fear and shaken long after she has returned home.
“It’s frightening, especially when you can’t hear properly to judge the distance of the traffic”, she said.
“You have moments where you wonder if you will ever get past. By the time I get home I am normally shaking like a jelly.
“I experience pavement parking nearly every day. I have to change my routes, what time I travel, and where I travel, to avoid the worst of it.”
Nicky has grown increasingly frustrated by the lack of action on pavement parking, saying more needs to be done to support visually impaired people.
“I’ve reported the issue to the council, but nothing seems to be done, it’s just swept under the carpet.” she said.
“It is about time we start looking after vulnerable people. To expect a visually impaired person to walk in the middle of the road is ludicrous.
“I would love to blindfold politicians and see how they felt knowing that at any second traffic could come.”
Nicky recalls a particularly harrowing experience where she was forced onto a busy road by parked cars when taking her young son to school.
“I felt a massive rush of anxiety stepping into the road”, she said.
“I had the dog in one hand and my six-year-old son in the other while in the middle of the road. It was frightening to think what could happen to us, especially my son. I had to sit down after I dropped him off before I was able to walk home."
Eleanor Briggs, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs, said: “The message from the public and local councillors is clear; our streets are not safe because of cars blocking pavements. The Government need to act now as local councils don’t have the powers they need.”