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Pavement parking ban

   Pavement parking ban

Parking on the pavement has been illegal since 1974 in London. The rest of England may soon be catching up, as the Commons Transport Select Committee has published a report which called for a new law banning parking on the pavement.

The issue of pavement parking is definitely on the political agenda – in April 2019, the Scottish Parliament agreed in principle that a new law be passed to implement a nationwide pavement parking ban, and the Welsh Government has set up a task force to look at the issue.

Pavement Parking: a brief history

There have been a number of attempts to curb this issue for almost two centuries. The law concerning pavement parking has a rich history:

The Town Police Clauses Act 1847 gave the police the authority to prosecute for driving on and obstruction of the pavement.

Greater London (General Purposes) Act 1974 banned parking on the pavement in London, unless there is signage in place that specifically permits it. London boroughs and the City of London can issue parking tickets of up to £100 to pavement parkers.

The Highways Act 1980 gave local authorities power to prosecute over damage to the pavements. However, the scope for prosecution under this law is extremely limited because the damage has to be witnessed by local authority officers at the time the damage first occurs.

The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 allowed prosecution by local authority parking attendants at locations where waiting restrictions are in place adjacent to a pavement in an areas where a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) has been issued, which bans pavement parking in specific areas.

The Road Traffic Act 1988 prohibited heavy goods vehicles from parking on pavements, and can be enforced by local authority parking attendants. However, it is drivers of cars and vans that mainly carry out pavement parking.

Rule 244 of The Highway Code states: “You must not park partially or wholly on the pavement in London and should not do so elsewhere unless a sign permits it.”
Pavement parking, what’s the problem?

Despite a wealth of legislation and conventions that seek to dissuade drivers from parking on the pavement, RoSPA believes that it is still a common practice. A YouGov survey in 2018 found that 65 per cent of drivers admitted to having previously parked on the pavement.

Vehicles that wholly or partially block pavements can make life difficult for a number of road users, such as parents pushing prams, wheelchair-users, people with mobility impairments, and the blind or partially sighted. If the pavement is blocked, these pedestrians will have to move into the road and in doing so potentially place themselves in danger. This is a particular problem for young children who may be hidden from sight – that is, until they step into the road.

Pavement parking may affect some road users in a more fundamental way: it may deter them from making journeys at all.

Chairman of the Transport Select Committee, Lillian Greenwood MP, said: “People are at risk of social isolation if they feel unable to leave their homes safely or are physically prevented from doing so.

“While pavement parking can be a necessity in some areas, it should not be allowed to happen where it has a significant adverse impact on people's lives.”

Furthermore, driving onto and parking on the pavement also damages surfaces over time, which can create tripping hazards for pedestrians when the vehicle is not there. A report published by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association found that local authorities spent £1biliion on repairing kerbs, pavements and walkways between 2006-2010.

The solutions

However, in some limited circumstances it may be necessary to park on the pavement. Imagine a busy narrow street of terraced houses with cars lining both sides of the road. If motorists do park on the road then they are disrupting the flow of traffic and making it impossible for emergency service vehicles, or grit lorries in bad weather, to get down that street.

While a nationwide ban on pavement parking would certainly benefit some groups of road users, it would only really be effective if local authorities and the police have the requisite resources to enforce the law.

An alternative to a blanket ban might be making it easier for local authorities to obtain Traffic Regulation Orders. Local authorities are more likely to have the local intelligence about where it would be sensible to permit pavement parking, and in most other places the practice could be prohibited. However at present, the Traffic Regulation Order process is onerous and labour-intensive, and therefore not an attractive option for cash-strapped councils.

Whatever decision is made about pavement parking, it is RoSPA’s view that a balance must be struck between protecting the safety and freedom of pedestrians and allowing for the smooth flow of traffic in densely-populated areas.

As a final thought, common courtesy and considerate parking may just be the best way round this thorny problem.

Read our full response to the Transport Committee’s pavement parking inquiry.

Nick Lloyd
Acting head of road safety 
Posted: 9/12/2019 4:05:10 PM 5 comments


9/19/2020 7:54:21 PM

Vincent Edwards

We hear repeatedly about areas where if motorists did not park on the pavement they would block the road. But pavement parking also occurs in areas where there is absolutely no "necessity" to do so. I live in one such area - people park on the pavement even though the roads are wide and everyone has a driveway. Parking on the pavement has become so normalised that many motorists mount the pavement regardless of circumstances. I agree with the proposal to ban pavement parking except where specifically permitted. I'm tired of being driven at when walking along the pavement

2/7/2020 10:01:13 AM

John Stephens

There is no right to park on a road unless there is a specific sign indicating this. It is an offence to park on a public road causing an obstruction. If an ambulance or fire engine cannot get through then the parked car is causing this offence

9/15/2019 1:37:27 PM

Lee Bromley

Has anyone considered the displacement of vehicles from pavements to roads?

We have been given permission in our street by the local authority to park on the pavement, the LA removed grass verges and replaced with tarmac, the intention was to install parking bays, however the services (Virgin Media and BT) were no low enough to install parking bays, so the decision was made to as mentioned remove grass verges and replace with tarmac on which vehicles could park without disrupting the flagstones on the pavement for pedestrians, pushchairs, scooters and wheelchairs.

Also at the same time, traffic calming was installed on the highway such a raised junctions and speed humps. Our road was commonplace for accidents, some very serious accidents which have required the air ambulance on 2 occasions. Since the grass verges have been removed and traffic calming installed we have not had a single accident in 3 years, where as prior it would be common for 2-3 accidents per year.

Should a pavement parking become illegal outside London, and be outlawed on our street, I fear the displacement of vehicles back to the road will make it impossible for emergency vehicles to get through and I fear the accident rate will return to levels we used to see previously.

People should really be careful what they wish for, as it may be one of their relatives who needs that ambulance or that fire engine that is blocked by displacement.

9/14/2019 3:24:26 PM

Simon Noble

“People are at risk of social isolation if they feel unable to leave their homes safely or are physically prevented from doing so." Is this not also the case for many peoples vehicle ownership, this order would in many cases prevent people from parking close to their own homes and restrict their access to a vehicle which enables their social interaction.

9/14/2019 10:57:49 AM


How can all cars park on the roads if the roads are not big enough. Are ROSPA going to take full responsibility to the many lives lost due to emergency services not being able to get through as all cars have to park on our roads..

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