UK - Give Us Back Our Pavements campaign

On June 6th 1978, the National Federation of the Blind launched the Give Us Back Our Pavements campaign. This campaign was to bombard the Department of Transport, the Police and the public with letters, posters and publicity to draw their attention to all the hazards on the pavement that prevent blind and partially sighted people from walking safely on our streets.

These hazards included overhanging branches, badly positioned street furniture, obstacles such as bollards, rubbish bins and, most dangerous of all, vehicles parked on pavements and people cycling on pavements.

Working with the Department of Transport we were able to educate, and change regulations to improve the environment. All street works now have to have a metre high barrier round all holes and they must be well lit and with a tactile approach. We initiated tactile paving for pedestrian crossings, which became a British Standard in 1983. We produced various leaflets, and in 1992 with funding from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association we produced a video entitled Get Streetwise. This video was shown on many television programmes and in schools. It was, I believe, used for training by the police, local authorities and public utility companies.

Over these 40 years our members have campaigned in their areas to ensure that the Police and Local Authorities are made aware of all these hazards, and sometimes action is taken. However, currently very little money is spent repairing pavements, leading to hundreds of people falling every day on broken pavements. Cars and lorries still park on the pavements, cracking and breaking them, often blocking the footpath so blind people have to go out in to the dangerous road to pass them.

With 100 people going blind every day in the UK, and knowing that these numbers will increase over the next 20 years, we need everyone to work to improve the state of our pavements.

In some areas, since 2005, pavements have actually been removed as well as pedestrian crossings, leaving a shared space which means no pedestrian can walk safely. Pavements are for people, so please Give Us Back Our Pavements.

Action please?

  1. Cut back overhanging branches.
  2. Remove litter and obstacles.
  3. Do not cycle on footpaths.
  4. Do not park on pavements.
  5. Repair all cracked and broken pavements.
  6. Remove all A-boards and protect shop displays with safety barriers.
  7. Implement laws and by-laws relating to pavements.

Please help to Give Us Back Our Pavements.

Jill Allen-King, OBE

Essex and Southend Branch, National Federation of the Blind of the UK

Tel:  0044 1702 477899