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Blog: Should parking on pavements be banned?

Some 69% of people want a ban on parking on pavement parking. Motoring journalist Maria McCarthy explains why she strongly supports a ban too.

When I heard that the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity had launched a campaign to have parking on pavements banned, I was right behind it.

It seems I'm not the only one – a new poll commissioned by the charity found that 69% of people would support a new law banning pavement parking.

And in a separate piece of research, 78% of local authority councillors said they would support it too.

Selfish parking

I am always amazed at the selfishness of motorists when it comes to parking.

On one occasion in London I came across a Mini Cooper parked in the middle of the pavement!

I could not believe that anyone would be so brazenly inconsiderate as to do such a thing.

It was inconvenient for me having to squeeze past the car but a blind person would have walked right into it.

The problem of pavement parkers

Since then, I've noticed how many pavement parkers there are – not just in London, but elsewhere too.

It even happens where I live in Devon.

Here, there's really no excuse as there is generally ample space to park, but many motorists will just pull up onto the pavement because it saves them a few minutes' walk.

It's something guaranteed to annoy me, particularly because my father had multiple sclerosis and used a wheelchair.

As anyone who has pushed one will know, kerbs can be tricky at the best of times.

And the prospect of having to bump up and down them, and wheel the chair in the gutter just because of someone's lack of forethought is infuriating.

'I think it's selfish'

boy in baby buggyAnd of course it's very difficult for parents pushing buggies as well.

"It's a nightmare trying to get past with a double buggy and another child in tow," says Cathryn Scott, 35, a yoga teacher and mother-of-three from Cardiff.

"I often find myself having to navigate the four of us into the road because the buggy just won't fit.

"I think it's selfish and shows a complete disregard for other people's safety."

The law on pavement parking

Looking further into the topic I discovered how hazy current legislation actually is.

Driving on a pavement has been an offence since the Highways Act of 1835.

But while parking on a pavement is against the law in London, it's not elsewhere.

That's why The Highway Code states, in rule 244, that motorists "must not" park partially or wholly on the pavement in London but says that motorists "should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it".

Councils should act

Councils do have powers under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to restrict or ban parking on individual streets by the making of a Traffic Regulation Order.

And a few councils, including Exeter and Worcester, have banned parking on pavements through private Acts of Parliament.

But these processes can be time-consuming.

This has led to Guide Dogs for the Blind is calling for a ban that operates throughout the UK, with councils being able to specifically permit it on certain roads.

Justice for pedestrians!

I think this is an excellent idea as it would give flexibility for councils to allow pavement parking in some specific locations - such as very narrow streets - and freedom from pavement parking for the rest of us.

The charity Living Streets, which champions the rights of pedestrians, also campaigns against pavement parking.

It has information on the legal issues, posters that can be downloaded for display in local shop windows or libraries and template letters you can send to your local council or police.

So if it's an issue that infuriates you as well, then get in touch with them.

What do you think?

Should parking on pavements be banned?

Or maybe you think that roads are so narrow and parking in such short supply that pavement parking should be permissible?

We want to hear from you! You can share your views on our message board below.

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Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy is a motoring and lifestyle journalist and author of The Girls' Car Handbook and The Girls' Guide to Losing your L Plates published by Simon and Schuster. She's also a regular on BBC Breakfast news, and local and national radio, commenting on motoring matters. Her pet motoring hates are potholes and high fuel prices.

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