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Is it illegal to park on the pavement?

Pavement parking is a problem that peeves pedestrians. With cars occupying part of the pavement it can often be difficult for pedestrians to get past, particularly if they have kids in tow or have disabilities.

And some local authorities are considering banning parking on the pavement altogether.

So what could change if they start to crack down?

A car parks on the pavement

We asked people across the UK, and more than half of them* (55%) have been affected by someone parking on the kerb or pavement.

However, on narrow streets, motorists often don’t have a choice but to park up on the kerbs. If they parked on the street, their cars could hold up traffic or block emergency vehicles.

The rules surrounding parking are already something of a minefield, and a quarter (25%) of people are confused by pavement parking. 

And with some parts of the UK opting to ban pavement parking while others don’t, this only adds to the confusion.

Here’s what you need to know.


Is it illegal to park on the pavement?

In most places, pavement parking bans are enforced by the local council.

But they can charge you only if you’re parked on yellow lines or if signs say it’s not permitted.

If you’ve been caught parking on the pavement by the police, you could be charged with 'unnecessary obstruction of any part of the highway'.

But, according to the Living Streets foundation, they rarely take action.

That’s because the existing laws are unclear, and it can be difficult to prosecute.

Almost one in two (47%) people told us they had to park on the path because they didn’t want to obstruct the road.

Just over half (53%) said they parked on the pavement because the road was too narrow.

Obstructing the road could mean drivers have to squeeze between cars, potentially causing damage to parked cars, resulting in car insurance claims. 

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What are the changes to pavement parking?

Some of the UK’s nations are now rallying to stop parking on the pavement. This’ll be welcome news to UK residents, as almost a third (32%) would support a ban. 

But each country is at a different stage with their plans. 

Parking on a pavement in Scotland

Scotland was the pioneer of launching a nationwide ban on pavement parking. 

Once the details are ironed out, parking on any pavement in Scotland will be illegal.

Any motorists caught will receive a penalty charge notice (PCN). 

The Scottish government announced the ban in 2019, but as it’s nationwide, it’s thought that it’ll take five years to implement.

Parking on a pavement in Wales

From the middle of 2022, local authorities in Wales should have the authority to crack down on pavement parkers.

The Welsh government says it doesn’t want to penalise people if they have no other choice but to park on the pavement.

By giving the responsibility to local councils, they can target hotspots and use their discretion to penalise pavement parking.

Parking on a pavement in England 

Currently in England it’s illegal to park on the pavement only in London.

This could change, though, as the Westminster government last year ran a consultation on ways to solve the pavement parking issue.

One option was to follow Wales’s lead and let local councils tackle pavement parking.

The government has also suggested improving the system that councils use to make parking restrictions, as it’s time-consuming and labour-intensive. 

Parking on a pavement in Northern Ireland 

There’s no blanket ban on parking in Northern Ireland. 

In built-up areas – known as urban clearways – pavement parking is banned. It’s also banned on yellow lines and wherever signs prevent it. 


Will there be a blanket pavement parking ban? 

The Department of Transport completed a consultation exploring the best ways to tackle pavement parking at the end of 2021.

The report, which is expected to be published imminently, considers a number of proposals. Some involve boosting the existing approach and giving local authorities additional powers to combat problematic pavement parking. 

However, it could lean towards recommending a total pavement parking ban. This would mean pavement parkers could be a hit with a £70 ban, every time they’re caught.


Why can’t I always park on the pavement?

When you park on the pavement, you’re blocking part of the footway.

As a result, pedestrians might have no choice but to walk round your car via the road – putting themselves at risk.

More than seven in 10 (72%) people told us they’d had to do this due to pavement parkers.

More than two in five (44%) told us they felt in danger because of this.

The issue is particularly worrying for people who have a disability, are elderly or have young children.

Stephen Edwards, director of policy and communications at Living Streets, said:

“We’re regularly contacted by disabled and older people who feel trapped in their homes because there isn’t enough room on the pavement for wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

“This has impacted more people during the pandemic, with blocked pavements affecting everyone’s ability to physically distance.”

Pavements aren’t designed to be parked on, and over time the surface can become uneven or cracked, causing trip hazards.


What will happen if I’m caught parking on the pavement?

You could get a PCN if you’re caught parking on a pavement where it’s not permitted.

You might get a charge that you have to pay within 28 days, which is usually reduced if you pay within 14 days.

This'll depend on your local council’s rules, though.

If you’re caught by the police, you could be charged with the “offence of obstruction” and be given a fixed penalty notice.


What is the fine for parking on the pavement and can I appeal it? 

If you’re caught by the council, the PCN is set by your local authority. You can expect it to be upwards of £50.

Alternatively, if it’s the police that spot your infringement, you could be charged up to £200 and get penalty points on your licence.

You can appeal a PCN if you don’t think it was warranted, by contacting your local council. Fixed penalty notices (FPNs) can only be challenged through the courts, which could be expensive.


What can I do about parking on the pavement outside my house?

It depends on where in the UK it is, and what the local rules are. If, for example, you’re in London, where it’s not allowed, you can call the local authority and ask if they can send a traffic warden to have a look.

But if you live elsewhere, unless or until there’s  a blanket ban on the practice, you might find there’s little you can do. If your  neighbour parks on the pavement, one of the few things you can do is talk to them.

It could be worse, a motorist could park on your private driveway - a situation the police can do surprisingly little about. 


How to stop cars parking on pavements

If it’s not illegal to park on pavements where you live, you have to rely on old-fashioned diplomacy. 

Try talking to the owner if you can and explain why it’s  causing you problems. They might not be aware of the problems they’re causing and find alternative parking. You could also try leaving a note on the car windscreen. Whichever approach you try, it’s important to be friendly, calm and polite.


How can I report pavement parking?

You can only report pavement parking if you live in an area where it’s illegal. If this is the case, you need to report it to your local council. 


*Figures taken from omnibus research carried out by OnePoll on behalf of Confused.com. This was a nationally-representative poll of 2,000 UK adults. The research was conducted between 11 November and 13 November 2020.