Every driver faces the challenge of finding places to park on an ongoing basis. There are also sorts of considerations, from cost, safety and distance from our destinations. There are times when we simply have to park on the pavement. But is it legal? Here’s the rundown…
What The Law Says
As with many things, the law on pavement parking is anything but clear. First of all, driving on the pavement is illegal. That much is clear. Technically, then, placing a vehicle on a pavement (even slightly) is an offence. From a practical perspective, however, this simply isn’t enforceable and hundreds of thousands of vehicles (if not more) are parked at least partially on pavements every day. More generally, then, it’s how you’ve positioned the vehicle. Pavement parking is outright banned in London and has been since 1974; a product of narrow streets and high traffic density.
If you’re parking on the pavement outside of London, your likelihood of facing a fine depends on a) whether the local authority has applied a ban (which would be indicated by appropriate signage) or if you’re obstructing the flow of traffic on the road, pavement or both. You should leave enough space on the pavement for someone to easily get by with a wheelchair or pram and enough space on the road for large emergency vehicles i.e. not simply enough for conventional cars.
Will The Rules Change?
In 2015, a Private Member’s Bill was put forward with the goal of making pavement parking illegal throughout the UK. However, it didn’t win enough support to reach a Second Reading in the Commons due to fears it’d interfere with genuine parking needs. That said, the current Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, has said that the government would likely review the rules again soon. He said, “the department is now undertaking a broader piece of work to gather evidence on the issue of pavement parking. We expect to be able to draw conclusions later this year.” Bear in mind, that was in 2018 and no changes have yet been proposed.
A Balancing Act
When the general public is consulted on pavement parking, there’s usually a split in opinion right down the middle. Indeed, a poll conducted by the RAC found that 45% would ban it completely and 55% would be opposed to a ban. A spokesman from the RAC called for a moderate response, stating “In a number of cases, drivers may be forced to park up a kerb so they are not restricting or blocking traffic flow on narrower roads.” He continued. “if the Government does look into this, it should be clear that pavement parking is only acceptable where drivers need to do it so not to block traffic flow on the road nor pavement access for vulnerable users and pedestrians. This is all about getting the right balance.”
Due to an increasing number of vehicles on the road, and insufficient parking infrastructure, pavement parking is a fact of life for many drivers. Perhaps it’d simply be wiser to raise awareness of how to do it safely and appropriately i.e. approaching pavements cautiously and leaving plenty of space. Large and high-profile fines for parked vehicles that block traffic should send a clear enough message in time.
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