Narrow roads, narrower footpaths, and narrow minds.

Blocked footpath on arterial road

Blocked footpath on arterial road

Policing illegal parking on footpaths is just as important as policing speeding. Blocked footpaths force people in wheelchairs, people with prams, and kids on bikes, into traffic. Perhaps worse, is the disincentive to walk or cycle at all. Evidently, Tasmanian police have ignored this problem for generations, as parking on footpaths is a custom down here.

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Footpaths represent an enormous public infrastructure investment. Suburban areas have over 7 linear meters of footpath for every person. My city of 70,000 people has 500,000meters of footpaths; that’s a greater length of asphalt and concrete than fibre optic cable being laid at the moment to give us all access to high speed internet services. But car owners take shears to our network of footpaths every time they park across them. Perhaps they think it is more important not to impede traffic flows on narrow roads? Perhaps they’ll dig up broadband cables because they want to plant apple trees. I know what is narrow: their minds.

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It is tedious, I understand that, but if you care about fair rights of movement for children, parents with strollers and the disabled, it is your duty to report every footpath blockage you see. I don’t care if it’s tradesmen, furniture removal trucks, or parents leaving the car for two minutes while they drop their kids into daycare. Every infringement erodes the population’s enjoyment of walking and cycling, and could cause someone to be hit by a car. I carry the phone number for the police in my phone (131444 in Tasmania) and am in the habit of calling to report blatant offences—I wish I had time to report more. The funniest was when I photographed and reported an unmarked police car, using a speed camera while his own car was blocking the footpath—I reported him to himself and he apologised nicely and moved.

That is the attitude of our police. They are good people, who appreciate being reminded. It’s our job as citizens, to politely remind them. Will you help me in this?

About Steven

I'm on a mission to put cycling on the agendas of architects, urban designers and fellow academics, who see the potential for bicycles to change cities and buildings. My PhD is in architectural history and my interdisciplinary research spans art theory, philosophy and cultural studies. I teach architectural history and theory and design studio at The University of Tasmania, Australia, and formerly worked as an architect designing large public housing projects in Singapore. My favourite bikes are a titanium racing bike I use for racing, a Velorbis retro commuter for riding to cafes and work, a single speed ultra light Brompton that I take with me when I travel on planes, a 29er hard tail mountain bike that I get lost on in remote places, an old track bike that scares me, a 1984 Colnago Super with all original campagnolo components that is plugged into a virtual realm that I train in, and a Dutch-made Bakfiets, that could easily replace half of the bikes I just mentioned.
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