What do you do if someone has parked on the pavement you’re walking on, blocking your way? Unless you can find a different route, or a safe place to cross over, you may be forced onto the road, which is especially dangerous if you’re with children or have a disability that limits your mobility or impairs your vision.
It’s not an uncommon problem, but it could soon be a thing of the past. An influential group of MPs has called on the government to impose an outright ban on pavement parking across England. The result could be a £70 fine for drivers who are caught parking on the kerb.
Lilian Greenwood, MP, said: “Pavement parking has a huge impact on people's lives and their ability get around their communities...the government's inaction has left communities blighted by unsightly and obstructive pavement parking and individuals afraid or unable to leave their homes or safely navigate the streets.”
Part of the problem is confusion over the rules. Parking on pavements is currently only illegal in London. It’s also banned for large goods vehicles across England. But elsewhere, it’s only banned on specific streets where local authorities have restricted pavement parking.
A lack of spaces or narrow streets may mean that drivers feel they have little choice than to park on the pavement. A 2018 YouGov survey commissioned by Guide Dogs found that nearly two-thirds (65%) of drivers have pavement parked. This has upset many local residents: 93% of local authorities in England and 87% of local authorities in Wales have received complaints from members of the public about pavement parking, according to Living Streets, which is campaigning for a blanket ban on pavement parking.
Stephen Edwards, a director at the charity, said: “Cars parked on pavements force people with wheelchairs, parents with buggies and those living with sight loss into the carriageway and oncoming traffic.”
While the ban proposed by the Transport Committee would just apply in England, action is also being taken elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish Parliament has already agreed in principle to introduce a new law banning parking on footways, while in Wales the government is reportedly considering how best to clamp down on pavement parkers.
Expensive and divisive
While many charities support a ban on pavement parking, the issue is not clear-cut.
Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart warns that a blanket ban on pavement parking could mean that thousands of new car parking spaces are needed elsewhere - and this could create conflict between residents as they attempt to find a place to park.
It also warns of the high cost of the new signs, road markings and enforcement administration that would be required if a blanket ban was introduced.
The RAC meanwhile adds that drivers often park on pavements to allow access for other cars and emergency services on narrower residential roads.