Gophers won't go far around these streets

A COMMON perception of motorists when parking a vehicle on a footpath may be that walkers can just easily navigate around a car.

Fair enough. It's an easy and often thoughtless assumption to make, but do we always spare a thought for the elderly and those with physical disabilites and wheeled or electric scooters and gophers who face the daily hazards of getting around town and frustratingly around parked cars.

Locally speaking the community issue is so problematic on the Coffs Coast, Nambucca Shire Council is calling on residents to refrain from parking across concrete footpaths where vehicles might be stacked in a driveway, but where it protrudes from the property and blocks public access.

The NSW Road Rules 2014 provide that a driver must not stop on a bicycle path, footpath, shared path or dividing strip, or a nature strip adjacent to a length of road in a built-up area.

The laws also state a driver must not stop on a road in a position that obstructs access by vehicles or pedestrians to or from a footpath ramp or a similar way of access to a footpath, or a bicycle path or passageway.

Penalties for these offences currently stand at a fine of $3,223.

Mobility scooter crossing Targo Street.
Mobility scooters are struggling to navigate foothpaths across the state due to the carelessness of motorists. Mike Knott BUN300617CBD1

In commenting on the issue, Nambucca Shire Council Mayor, Rhonda Hoban said it is an important issue in the local government area, which has a much higher proportion of elderly people than the NSW average.

"It is a thoughtless and uncaring act to block a footpath or pedestrian ramp and thereby force those with a physical disability to discontinue their journey or worse still force them out onto the road and the risk of colliding with a vehicle," Councillor Hoban said.

"The council is steadily building an extensive network of dedicated footpaths and shared paths for use by all of our residents to improve their general health and wellbeing.

"I won't have this work and the council's reputation compromised by a handful of people who do not respect the rights of pedestrians.

The council does not like having to issue fines and would prefer that residents heed the road rules and give a little bit of thought to why those road rules are in place.

Cr Hoban said the stance the council adopts is to provide education about compliance issues and then, if required, issue fines to wrongdoers. So be warned next time you pull up over a gutter to park.