As part of a programme to make it easier, more welcoming and enjoyable to walk around London, more than 2,000 pavement obstructions have been removed in the last two years, Transport for London (TfL) figures show.
Last year two businesses, Eroma Café, 230 Holloway Road and Troyganic Café and Wine Bar, 132 Kingsland Road, were issued a series of warning letters and a total of four Fixed Penalty Notices for unlawfully obstructing the highway.
The two business owners failed to remove the obstructions despite repeated demands and both were prosecuted and found guilty of highway obstruction at Lavender Hill Magistrates' Court on 27 April 2017, fined a total of £660, ordered to contribute £2,400 towards the costs of prosecution and to pay a victim surcharge of £90.1
Launched in March 2015, Operation Clearway seeks to clear pavements from clutter and make it easier for everyone to walk around the capital, particularly for older people and those with visual or mobility impairments.
The operation involves officers visiting priority locations engaging with and educating local businesses about their responsibilities for keeping pavements clear and enforcing against those persistently blocking pavements.
Of the 2,142 obstructions reported by TfL's Road Traffic Enforcement Officers since the operation began, 85 per cent of businesses made the changes required following TfL's educational visits and warning letters, with just one per cent (17 businesses) prosecuted for wilfully obstructing a highway.
Siwan Hayward, TfL's Head of Transport Policing, said:
'We want everyone to enjoy walking and moving around our streets without having to navigate around unnecessary and annoying street clutter. Engagement is the main focus of Operation Clearway and we are delighted to see so many businesses support our objectives and help clear pavements.
'We are continuing to work with boroughs, businesses, disability groups and schools to help make London the most walkable city in the world.'
David Kent, Guide Dogs London Community Engagement Officer, said:
'For a blind person the pavement should be a place of sanctuary. If a visually impaired person is forced to leave the pavement to avoid an obstacle and go into the road, their safety is immediately compromised. London's streets are challenging enough, so this move is extremely encouraging for our clients' safety.'
Nicola Stokes, spokesperson from East London Vision, said:
'So many vision impaired people want to get out and about but don't feel confident that they'll be able to navigate the streets unaided because of street furniture. It's great that TfL is taking this issue seriously, and hopefully Operation Clearway will see our pavements become more accessible for all of us.'
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