Some of the reasons people park on the pavement might surprise you.
Written evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee Inquiry into Pavement Parking submitted by SPACE for Gosforth.
We submitted this evidence because vehicles parking on the pavement is a frequent cause of concern and was among the top ﬁve problems complained about by Gosforth residents in our Your Streets – Your View survey of November 2018.
What is the law?
In 1974 the Road Trafﬁc Act proposed a nationwide ban on parking on footways. This was never implemented because of concerns about the costs for Local Authorities and the Police. A number of attempts have been made since to bring in a complete ban but none have succeeded.
As a result in England and Wales, parking on the pavement is not illegal even though driving onto the pavement in order to park is against the law. If it is causing an obstruction however the police can take action, most likely through issue of a Fixed Penalty Notice. It is also prohibited to park anywhere where there are yellow lines or other waiting restrictions and this includes the verge or pavement, and in this case Local Authorities can issue ﬁnes in the form of Penalty Charge Notices.
Parking on pavements can also be made illegal by local Trafﬁc Regulation Orders (TRO) but these are slow and expensive to set up and need extensive consultation.
The situation in London is different because, also in 1974, the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act made it an offence to park anywhere not classiﬁed as a carriageway unless it is speciﬁcally allowed and indicated.
In London and elsewhere there are limited exemptions including for loading and unloading, emergencies and for disabled people.
In devolved Scotland there is new legislation currently in the pipeline.
It is clear the police and local authorities do not make this a priority and there are very few prosecutions despite obstructed pavements being a daily occurrence in many places.
The law results in confusion and vehicles parking on pavements is rife and causes considerable difﬁculties for people who use them.
How much of a problem is pavement parking?
Surveys show many people are unsure of the law and the Highway Code. Only one in twenty people who drive know the law on parking on the pavement (YouGov). Polls also show that pavement parking causes problems for others especially the disabled, elderly and those with young families. Three quarters of people over 65 polled said that it was a problem in their area and in a half it deterred them from walking outside.
Virtually all blind people ﬁnd paths obstructed and 90% of the time it’s cars parked on the pavements (RNIB). Nine out of ten local authorities have received complaints from the public about it (FOI Living Streets 2018).
Many people admit to parking their vehicles on the pavement. Up to 65% of people said they have parked on the pavement and 43% have done so in the last 6 months (YouGov 2018). For 17% of drivers it is a regular habit, more than weekly, and 20% didn’t think it could be deﬁned as dangerous driving. Half of people who drive however, also regard it as a problem and would support more penalties for parking on the pavements.
Attitudes. Why do people park on the pavement?
In a survey in 2017, 17% of drivers said they parked on the pavement because others did. 12% said it was to avoid their cars being scratched or dinted, 6% to avoid their wheels being damaged on the kerb, and another 6% said they have difﬁculty parking and going on the pavement is easier for them. Five percent of people driving say ‘it doesn’t matter as long as other drivers aren’t obstructed’. Three quarters of drivers think that parking wholly or partly on the pavement is the best approach in certain locations (Co-op Insurance 2017).
It appears that, by trying to avoid dints or scratches, people parking their cars are reacting to the same road danger that people walking and cycling face from fast moving vehicles. Ironically doing so makes it more dangerous for pedestrians who may have to walk on the road as a result. Better enforcement of speeding, or more widespread implementation of low-trafﬁc neighbourhoods, would give people more conﬁdence to park properly on the road as well as helping more vulnerable users.
Additionally, there is an attitude amongst some drivers that pedestrians only require a narrow space to pass and that pavements should be fair game for anyone who wants to park there regardless of whether other better parking provision is nearby. Such attitudes ignore the major impact it has on people in wheelchairs, mobility scooters, the visually impaired, people with children or people who simply want to walk side by side. People who think parking on the pavement is acceptable are also disregarding the damage caused by heavy vehicles on paths not built for them.
Pavement parking in Gosforth. SPACE for Gosforth survey results.
In November 2018, 704 people responded to SPACE for Gosforth’s survey and 37% said pavement obstruction, including by vehicles, was a major problem in Gosforth. It was ranked ﬁfth amongst other problems, closely behind ‘too much trafﬁc’, ‘speeding’, ‘pot holes’ and ‘uneven pavements’ and just ahead of ‘air pollution’.
Pavement parking featured frequently in the free text comments and these are grouped below.
General comments saying pavement parking should be stopped.
Pavements for pedestrians only; cycle lanes for bikes only; no pavement parking or driving in cycle lanes; cycle lanes that joined up to get around the city.
Please stop pavement parking. Residential parking solutions should prevent dumping of vehicles in proximity to Metro stations. e.g. I reported dumped vehicle parked outside home to police who reported owner on holiday for 3 months. Subsequently moved.
Preventing vehicles from parking on pavements.
No cars parking on pavements.
Stop people parking on pavements
Less vehicles on the road – driving but also parking on pavements/cycle lanes stop parking on pavements
Comments about the impact of pavement parking.
Stop pavement infringement by pavement parking and cycling. Pavements are the only place pedestrians have and they should be safe and free of all vehicles.
Stopping pavement parking. Thoughtless parking near schools at school run times.
Stop pavement parking (this is largely responsible for broken paving stones)
There is far too much parking on pavements obstructing pedestrians/pushchairs/wheel chairs/small children on scooters etc.
Speeds along Kenton Road are very high during off peak periods. Parking on pavements isn’t necessary and causes obstruction- a lady with a buggy had to walk into the road to get past last week.
Parking at the town moot end of Kenton road towards the moor needs to be restricted. The trafﬁc runs much better with two lanes to the lights- parking causes delays and frustrations possibly impacting later on with driving style. Per crossing needs to be improved in that are as well. Quality of pavements is poor with many broken due to parking.
CARS LEFT RUNNING WHILST WAITING FOR CHILDREN. PARENTS PICKING UP FROM SCHOOLS LEAVING CARS PARKED ON CORNERS CAUSE A DANGER NOT JUST TO THEMSELVES BUT O|HER CAR DRIVERS + PEOPLE.
Stop cars from parking on pavements making it hard to walk with buggy or wheelchair.
As I use a wheelchair stop cars parking on pavements and stop cycling on pavements.
I would also like to see less pavement parking – ideally none at all, cars belong on the road not on the path and a number of times I have had to go on the road with my pram as I cannot get past a parked car blocking the road, I feel sorry for anyone in a wheelchair or who is visually impaired.
Pavement parking is a signiﬁcant problem, especially when getting around with a buggy.
Comments saying better enforcement is needed.
Most day to day quality of life issues in Gosforth stem from this (ignoring the national issues of wages, pensions, health service, education etc etc!) whether it is noise and air pollution, complete disregard for trafﬁc laws (speeding, parking on pavements, parking on double yellow lines on High Street etc etc), lack of a coherent efﬁcient bus service (OK, plenty of services run down the High Street but not in other directions around Gosforth, there is very poor information on them, they are dirty, noisy, unreliable – why no policy for taking buses back into local authority control?). Poor trafﬁc control/ management leads to the whole of the backstreets being used as rat runs; some schools have very poor etiquette/thought for others re school drop off/pick up. Even socalled dedicated bike routes are abused – cars parked across them, motor bikes using them, taxis going up no entry streets (e.g. especially the ones off Church rd (Rectory, Bellevue, Moor rd etc) the wrong way. There is no enforcement of any trafﬁc laws as far as I can see.
More trafﬁc wardens/parking monitor to ﬁne people parking illeg.
Police enforcement of cycling on footways; police enforcement of speeding in 20mph zones; civil enforcement of pavement parking, parking over dropped kerbs, parking at junctions. New Street masterplan for Garden Village. Increase metros from Regent Centre during working week peak times. We could look forward to a brighter, cleaner future with all vehicles being electrically powered. But, we must have some way of making sure everyone obeys the rules.
We need to move on to create a new culture of what constitutes acceptable behaviour. Speeding and pavement parking/ cycling should be regarded as being antisocial and unacceptable, in the same way as drink driving.
Pavement parking at school pick up times is ignored by trafﬁc wardens
I would make a bylaw to stop parking on pavements and cycle lanes.
Pavement parking is a huge problem in our road making it dangerous especially around a children’s play area. Eliminating that and enforcing existing double yellow lines would be a huge improvement.
Comments suggesting other improvements.
Stop cars parking on pavement, reduce & enforce speed on residential streets
no parking on pavements which would reduce parking on both sides of the road.
Sometimes mirrors get wrenched off as trafﬁc cuts in to avoid other trafﬁc – expensive at £200+ a time. It nearly causes a further accident as well. However it is not acceptable if all the path is taken up by vehicles, so there has to be some common sense required.
I understand the need to prevent parking on pavements, however some streets are narrow and if both sets of neighbours want to park it would prevent emergency vehicles getting past. As funds are limited It would be better to simply paint a line on the pavement so the car drivers would know how far they can go and partially sighted pedestrians would know where they are safe.
Safer schools by restricting parking, widening pavements outside schools, better walking/cycling routes to schools, walking buses.
SPACE for Gosforth recommendations.
Pavement parking is frequently obstructive and dangerous and we think the law needs to be changed so there is proper enforcement nationally. This would be much more clear for people to follow. Many park on the pavement for trivial reasons and because others do. The deterrent effect of a new law is likely to lead to widespread behaviour change without numerous convictions and costly local authority provision.
The law needs to be changed to:
(a) make it clear that it is unacceptable to park on pavements unless there is a speciﬁc exemption.
(b) enable local authorities to enforce the law with powers to ﬁne offenders.
(c) clarify what obstructed pavement means as a separate offence with a higher ﬁne and/or the right to impound the vehicle.
(d) enable effective prosecution based on picture or video evidence.
(e) enable local authorities to retain ﬁnes in a similar manner to ﬁnes levied for illegal use of bus lanes so that they might be used, amongst other things, for repairing broken pavements.
(e) make it easier for local authorities to introduce low trafﬁc neighbourhoods where people’s property, as well as their wellbeing, are not threatened by fast moving trafﬁc.
In conclusion, SPACE for Gosforth recommend changes to the law making all parking on the pavement an offence as is the case in London.