Cycling And Walking Groups Want Pavement Parking Ban

A group of cycling and walking organisations have jointly called on the government to introduce a general pavement parking ban. It follows a recommendation made by the Transport Committee…

Pavement Pains 

The Walking and Cycling Alliance (WACA) is backing calls for the government to introduce a nationwide pavement parking ban. It’s made up of leading groups such as British Cycling, Bicycle Association, The Ramblers and Living Streets. Just last month, the Department of Transport was criticised by the Transport Committee for failing to address the phenomenon. It claimed that it has a “detrimental effect on people’s lives and can lead to social isolation”.  John Irvin, chief executive of Living Streets, has called for immediate action. In a statement he said, “the Government needs to act urgently on the findings of the Transport Select Committee report, which is founded on thorough investigation and input from the general public”. He stressed that pavement parking affects some of the most vulnerable people in society, including the elderly, young children and people with vision problems.

The Situation As It Stands 

Unless you’re in London, parking on the pavement isn’t illegal. The practice was outlawed in the capital back in 1974, no doubt a response to extreme volumes of traffic the city faces; and the absence of space. Elsewhere, however, things are a little murkier. Rule 244 of the Highway Code reads, ‘You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs’. The things to note here are ‘must not’ and ‘should not’. In other words, it’s advisory that you don’t park on the pavement outside of London; it isn’t illegal. Local authorities can issue fines of £100 and they have powers to designate areas that are exempt. But both of these powers are rarely exercised.

Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Transport Committee, has expressed sympathy with some motorists, but feels that the practice simply causes too much harm. She said, “motorists may feel they have no choice but to park on the pavement and many try to do so in a considerate way, but evidence to our inquiry revealed the impact on those with visual and mobility impairments and people with children”. She, like WACA, want what they call ‘bureaucratic burdens’ to be removed, allowing councils greater flexibility to clamp down.

Is It Feasible?

Not everyone agrees with the idea of a nationwide pavement parking ban. The charity IAM RoadSmart accepts the risks it poses, but stressed the practical challenges of a ban. In a statement it emphasised the cost and logistical issues councils would be saddled with. It warned, “new traffic orders, new signposting, new road markings and new enforcement administration will all be required at extra cost if a blanket ban is introduced. Councils are already struggling to implement… a host of other transport measures against a background of budget cuts and dwindling resources”.

The fact of the matter is that very many people who park on the pavement, perhaps the majority, do so out of necessity. Parking infrastructure is woefully inadequate in the UK; something that has caused the government to pledge to a ‘parking revolution’. Many houses and streets predate the rise of widespread car-ownership. Meaning that any ban must also be accompanied by significant investment in parking infrastructure; that requires money and space that won’t always exist. In addition, police forces and councils will need a way of enforcing the measure throughout the entire country. Whether this is feasible or not, remains to be seen. But one would be forgiven for being sceptical.

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