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.
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.
Acting head of road safety
Posted: 9/12/2019 4:05:10 PM