A YOUNG blind woman from Omagh was almost struck by a car recently due to motorists inconsiderately parking on the footpath along the Brookmount Road.
Lauren Hurley, 21, was stopped just in time by her trusted guide dog ‘Sparky’ after she stepped onto the road to avoid the vehicles on the footpath.
The pavement parking problem centres around the shopping arcade on the Brookmount Road and forces pedestrians to walk out onto the road.
Lauren’s mother Julie said it is particularly bad at lunchtimes and weekends.
She explained, “Cars can block the footpath from the shops right down to Centenary Park. Some are putting two wheels onto the path while in areas they may have all four wheels up -completely blocking access for pedestrians.
“Lauren is coming along with a guide dog that is forced to take her out onto the road to get past the cars. She nearly got struck by a car just a few weeks ago which really scared her.”
Having a guide dog these past four years has given Lauren greater independence to meet friends in town. However, the issue of pavement parking means she needs assistance to pass the blocked footpath only yards from her doorstep.
Last month, a campaign was launched urging drivers to consider the needs of those with disabilities.
It was designed to curb the problem of badly parked cars and vans forcing pedestrians off the pavement and into danger on busy roads.
The PSNI also warned drivers that if they repeatedly offend, they risk a fixed penalty notice for obstructing the pavement.
Lauren’s mother is appealing for motorists not to park on public footpaths. She said, “I just want to educate motorists about the danger they are causing people like Lauren who have no sight.”
Julie added that she has been in contact with Barry McElduff MLA to see about the possibility of erecting signage in the Brookmount Road area.
“We just want to create awareness of the problem so Lauren can continue to enjoy her independence,” she concluded.