Hazy laws mean motorists can park freely on the pavement in some areas of the UK. But new legislation could see you paying for it if you do.
Parking wardens might slap a ticket on your vehicle if you park on double yellow lines or overstay in a car park but what about leaving your vehicle on the pavement
We’ve all put a wheel up on the kerb when space is tight, whether it’s a quick run into the local shop, or a sneaky parking spot in a side street: but not every parking attendant will penalise motorists for leaving their car straddling a kerb, especially in residential areas.
That’s because pavement parking isn’t illegal in all areas of the UK. But disability charities and pedestrian groups have been campaigning to get the government to bring in a blanket ban on pavement parking, which they say makes life very difficult for some people.
If you use a wheelchair, for example, or have a pushchair, it can be impossible to use a pavement if there are parked cars along it.
So why are cars allowed to park on footpaths in some parts of the country and not others?
What is the pavement parking law?
The problem is, there’s no law saying motorists can’t park on pavements outside of London. According to the 1835 Highways Act it is an offence to drive on a pavement but the Highway Code states that:
“You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.”
In general, the law is vague because it depends on whether the police or the local council are responsible for parking enforcement in your area.
The government encourages local authorities to take responsibility for parking from the police. This is known as decriminalisation because parking offences are civil rather than criminal. All London councils have been responsible for parking in London since 1996, but there are many parts of the country where decriminalisation is yet to happen.
Banning pavement parking
Living Streets, a charity that looks after the rights of pedestrians, says this is part of the problem when it comes to enforcing a pavement parking ban.
“If police look after parking then it’s just not their priority,” says Phillipa Hunt, the charity’s head of policy and communications who believes that councils all across the UK should be responsible for parking.
“There is a blanket ban on pavement parking in London but outside of London, it’s a different story. Councils have to go down a step-by-step process to put a parking ban in place.
Where councils and local authorities are responsible for parking, Hunt says they should work on the basis that pavement parking is banned and if it determines instances where this would cause an issue then it can opt out on a case-by-case basis.
But the Department for Transport is reluctant to create a new law. It has stated that: “There is currently no national legislation banning the parking of all vehicles on the pavement, due to the wide range of circumstances and locations where pavement parking occurs.
“For example in some narrow residential roads with a lack of off-street parking provision, drivers have little option but to park on the pavement to avoid causing traffic hazards. The government has no plans at present to introduce new legislation specifically aimed at banning pavement parking on a national scale.”
But one government minister agrees that pavement parking is blighting pedestrians and has this year given new powers to local councils to enforce pavement parking restrictions.
Councils given new parking powers
In February, local transport minister Norman Baker gave all councils in England permission to use signs to indicate a local pavement parking ban. Until now councils had to gain special authorisation to put a pavement parking ban in place.
Living Streets think there’s still a long way to go. Hunt says: “Although this is helpful, it doesn’t create a rule that you can’t park on the pavement.”
To help Living Streets fight against pavement parkers visit its website or send us your view on how pavement parking should be handled by commenting below or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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