It’s a nightmare for wheelchair users, the less able, mums with buggies and small children – the scourge of pavement parking leads to road rage incidents, vandalised cars, people tripping up, or in extreme cases, pedestrians being injured when taking a detour onto the road around the obstacle. So what is the solution?
After nearly a year of blathering on about it in a Select Committee, the Department of Transport will now hold a consultation and decide whether to extend the London-wide ban on pavement parking to other parts of England, and possibly Wales too – the Welsh Assembly is also looking at the problem. Scotland is of course free to set its own rules on this issue and having passed a law against it, the new rules will be enforced from 2021 onwards.
It’s a tricky one, as those who live in terraced houses, or down narrow country lanes, often cannot park completely in the road – if they did obey the new law then only a Nissan Figaro could squeeze through the gap on some streets. Many new housing estates also feature garages unable to accept a modern saloon car or SUV, so if one car is on the drive, the second car is usually parked on the pavement.
Certainly no ambulance or fire engine could gain easy access to many UK streets after 6pm when everyone returns home from work, so enforcing the rules 100% of the time then, could mean a family being burnt to death in their home, or an older person not receiving paramedic treatment in time.
It looks like the UK government will ultimately bounce the decision on this emotive issue to local councils, by giving them special powers – plus a share of the ticket revenue. That way, if things go wrong, the council will get the blame. From a democratic point of view, it also allows local people to highlight particularly daft or selfish pavement parking via local/social media, and then some action can be taken by enforcement officers.
Maybe that flexible, devolved solution is better than a blanket ban? Scotland will be the testing ground from January next year, so it will be interesting to see if residents living on narrow streets and lanes will be targeted.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Blocking pavements impacts most on those with disabilities and those pushing buggies and creates unnecessary danger for pedestrians. In short, nobody should be forced into stepping into the road to get around a vehicle that has taken up pavement space, so the Government is right to explore giving local authorities additional powers to enforce this types of selfish parking.
“However, outlawing pavement parking as a whole is more complex because not all streets in the UK are the same. For example, some drivers will put a tyre up the kerb on a narrow residential street to avoid restricting road access to other vehicles while still allowing plenty of space for pedestrian access. Therefore better guidance and a definition of what is and isn’t appropriate would be a more practical solution, rather than an outright ban.”