Parking can be a bit of a grey area, especially when it involves pavements. Anyone who has ever been made to walk in the road because of inconsiderately parked cars will vouch for how irritating pavement parking can be – and it can also be dangerous.
Those who suffer from sight loss, are wheelchair users or have young children in pushchairs are especially vulnerable to injury.
Current legislation on pavement parking in the UK is unclear, although the Highway Code is explicit about the situation in London: ‘You must not park partially or wholly on the pavement in London and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.’ Otherwise, driving onto the foot-way has been banned in the UK since the Highways Act of 1835. However, despite the fact that it’s obvious that a parked vehicle will have been driven onto the foot-way (or pavement) before being parked there, witnesses may be required for a prosecution to proceed. Local councils have powers under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to restrict or prohibit parking on individual streets by the making of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) and a couple of local authorities – Exeter and Worcester, for instance – have banned pavement parking through private acts of parliament.
A survey conducted by the charity Guide Dogs in 2015 showed that 72% of people had been inconvenienced by pavement parking, and an earlier survey revealed that 69% of people would support a ban on it. James White, the charity’s Senior Campaigns Manager, reported that ‘Parking on pavements is blighting Britain’s streets. It puts all pedestrians in danger, but particularly those living with sight loss. It is terrifying for someone who cannot see oncoming traffic to have to take the risk of stepping out into a road just because someone has decided to park on the walkway. We are campaigning to change this and to make the streets safe for all pedestrians.’
Some motorists argue that there are particular roads where parking on the pavement doesn’t cause inconvenience, or is unavoidable. To allow for this, and to acknowledge the need for some flexibility, the Guide Dogs charity are calling for a ban on pavement parking that operates throughout the UK but with councils being able to specifically permit it on certain roads if wished.
What can you to help the situation? The government is committed to exploring the issue of parking on the pavement. Citizens of England and Wales who support the proposed ban are encouraged to write to their local council member for transport, asking them to lend their support to the Guide Dogs campaign. This can be done online via the Guide Dogs website, which will search for the relevant council member in each area and suggest a template letter – although it’s recommended that you edit this to accommodate your own personal views, opinions and experiences on the problems caused by pavement parking. The more personal the letters, the more influential they’re likely to be.
Living Streets is another charity that campaigns about pavement parking, and is a valuable source of information and advice on where the law currently stands and what you can do if it’s a problem in your area.