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The Plan to Ban Pavement Parking

The Plan to Ban Pavement Parking

MA's Annika Davies examines the latest proposals to ban pavement parking in England.

On Monday, Transport Secretary Grant Schapps, announced plans to prohibit pavement parking and make active travel journeys easier and safer. When parked cars occupy the pavement, they force pedestrians to move around the vehicle by entering the carriageway. This clearly presents a safety risk, but it also presents a major barrier to carrying out daily journeys for many disabled people and people with prams or buggies.

The problem is extensive, with 95% of visually impaired people reporting that they have had problems with pavement parking, rising to 98% for wheelchair users. Where it is not possible to move around a vehicle, many people face having to double-back and travel long distances out of their way. Furthermore, 32% of respondents with vision impairments and 48% of wheelchair users were less willing to go out on their own because of pavement parking.

Pavement parking is already banned in London and, according to UK Charity Living Streets, has been since 1974, so the theory of the ban is nothing new. More recently, Scotland passed a bill to ban pavement parking in 2019, after almost a decade of campaigning.

To make active travel inclusive for all, a new consultation has been launched to determine which of three new proposals will come forward to resolve pavement parking issues:

  • Option 1 proposes to improve the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) process to make it easier for councils to prohibit pavement parking in their areas;
  • Option 2 proposes to allow local authorities to enforce unnecessary pavement obstruction as a civil matter by issuing Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) to vehicles; and
  • Option 3 proposes to extend the existing London-wide pavement parking prohibition across the whole of England.

These options would allow exemptions for breakdown or emergency servicing vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles, utility vehicles and for loading/unloading goods where required. However, in an unexpected twist, no exemptions would be made for Blue Badge holders.

Research into the suitability of Option 1 identified that the process of making TROs can be time-consuming and the DfT recognises that changes to the legislation are required, which will be subject to a further consultation later this year.

The advantages of Option 2 include a relatively quick implementation period, as well as being a means of directly targeting obstructing vehicles and streets where problems typically occur. However, there would be no requirement to introduce signage or demarcated parking bays under these proposals. On the one hand, this would save local authorities time and money to implement, but the term ‘unnecessary pavement obstruction’ is ambiguous, which would require individual assessment of each case and could result in inappropriate or inconsistent enforcement, as well as open local authorities up to members of the public challenging their PCN, which could be both time-consuming and costly.

Option 3 could potentially overcome these issues by introducing a general and consistent rule against pavement parking, thus ensuring that there is a clear-cut definition of what is, and what is not permitted. Where pavement parking cannot be avoided (such as on narrow streets), traffic signs and bay markings would show drivers the extent of the pavement that they can take up. However, local authorities would need to undertake a significant amount of preparation before this option could be implemented, including conducting a street audit of their road networks to determine where pavement parking will remain necessary and put in place the appropriate signage and road markings.

Additionally, a national prohibition on pavement parking may not have the same impacts in rural areas as in suburban or urban areas and may face different requirements and costs to implement. For instance, cities with lower levels of car ownership and higher mode shares for public transport may be more conducive to pavement parking restrictions than rural areas with higher car ownership and parking demand.

Clearly, preventing pavement parking will take time to ensure the most effective measures are put in place, but if the government is determined to lead a green and active travel-led post-COVID recovery, then ensuring that pavements are free and accessible for everyone is essential.

To find out more, or to take part in the consultation, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/managing-pavement-parking/pavement-parking-options-for-change.

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Pavement Parking Ban