Most driving laws are black and white – drink driving, driving without a licence, driving without insurance and speeding are all illegal – but what about those grey areas? The ones that are googled time and time again.
Creeping up recently is the grey area of pavement parking. Whether vehicles are perched on the kerb for a few minutes or parked there for a whole day, pedestrians and other road users can suffer at the hands of ‘pavement parkers.’
As far as the Highway Code states, London’s rules are crystal clear:
Rule 244: “You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.”
According to section 15 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974, the maximum fine for parking on a London pavement is £100.
So that settles it for Londoners, but what about the rest of us up and down the UK?
The definition of ‘pavement parking’
When we talk about ‘pavement parking’, we’re referring to when one or more wheels of your vehicle are on the pavement. If your wheels aren’t on the pavement but you’re parked on the side of the road, that’s ‘on-street parking’. Two different parking methods that can both cause a lot of problems for other road users and pedestrians.
Is it illegal to park on pavements throughout all of the UK?
Take it from Rule 145 of the UK’s Highway Code:
“You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency.”
Those capital letters mean it’s illegal. Believe it or not, it’s actually been illegal to drive on the pavement since 1883 – section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 is actually used in the current Highway Code under rule 145.
However, it’s not clear how often this is enforced, as it is a criminal offence (i.e. enforced by the police) rather than a civil offence (enforced by the local authority). But that doesn’t mean you should take the risk.
For a vehicle to be deemed illegally parked on a pavement, it would have to be seen to be causing an obstruction. In this case, local authorities and the police do have the power to remove a vehicle if it is illegally parked, causing an obstruction or has been abandoned on a pavement.
What are the dangers of pavement parking?
Pavement parking is not only dangerous for other road users but the most vulnerable road users of them all – pedestrians. After all, the whole point of pavements is actually just for pedestrian use only, remember? Below are just a few reasons why pavement parking is a problem:
- A vehicle that obstructs the footway or restricts the width of the pavement may cause blind and partially-sighted people, wheelchair and mobility scooter users and those with pushchairs and prams to have to step onto the road to go around the parked vehicle.
- Parking on pavements can cause damage to tarmac and paving stones that can result in potential hazards for pedestrians using the walkway.
- Research undertaken by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) shows that people with sight loss most commonly collide with cars parked on pavements more than any other pavement obstruction.
What can happen if my pavement parking is deemed illegal?
Maximum fines for causing an obstruction can slap you with a maximum fine of up to £1,000. Your vehicle could also be at risk of removal by police and there are no exemptions for Blue Badge holders right now either.
So answer this – is it really worth it?
The future of pavement parking?
Although it’s hoped that stricter and heavily-enforced laws will prevent pavement parking, some are calling for tougher techniques to eliminate it once and for all.
A device that releases a spike when driven over, puncturing the pavement perpetrator’s tyres as they mount the kerb. If it sounds mean & extreme – that’s because it is.
Inventor Yannick Read of the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) says it’s simple, it’s cheap and it will end the plague of pavement parking. Hearing the harrowing statistic that 43 people were killed by cars as they walked on pavements last year, he felt inspired to do something about it.
Not only is Yannick flying the flag for the Catclaw to stop potential pavement parking, but he assures that the device could also be used to stop potential terror attacks using vehicles.
Other alternative, non-legislative measures to discourage pavement parkers are guardrails, the planting of trees and the placement of bollards on pavements.
So next time you pull up – think about it. If you’re not careful, you might end up walking home.