The Transport Committee has announced it will launch an inquiry to explore the issue of pavement parking in England, which could result in a blanket ban across the country.
Parking on pavements can cause real issues for some members of the public – especially for those who are visual impaired, use wheelchairs and mobility scooters and parents pushing wheelchairs and buggies – and councils who have to cover the cost of damage to kerbs and walkways.
One of the considerations on the table is to outlaw pavement parking – when one or more wheels of a vehicle is on a footpath – entirely, mirroring rules in London that could result in a fine of £70 for drivers.
Blanket ban: MPs are considering extending the ban on pavement parking in London to the entirety of England due to issues caused for those with mobility issues and children
‘A mix of criminal and civil sanctions are available to police and local councils to enforce restrictions on pavement parking on private or commercial drivers,’ the Transport Committee said in a statement released on Tuesdays.
A blanket ban on the pavement parking across England would bring the country in line with the capital, which has prohibited car drivers from parking up kerbs since 1974.
It is also forbidden for large goods vehicles to park on pavements across England.
However, there are some parts of London where pavement parking is signposted, with bays painted half on and half off the road, to ensure cars parked do not block streets.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has previously stated it is considering bringing the rest of the country in line with the capital’s parking restrictions and penalty system.
The committee’s inquiry announced this week is a call for written evidence on the impact of pavement parking, enforcement of offences as well as reforms of traffic regulation orders required to deal with instances of pavement parking.
In many cases, motorists believe they are forced to park on pavements on narrow streets to allow for traffic – including emergency vehicles – to move past stationary vehicles freely.
However, this can be dangerous for pedestrians – especially those with disabilities – if they’re forced to walk in the road due to a lack of space.
Councils have also argued that there are financial ramifications of pavement parking, as such action can create additional costs to repair damage to surfaces which are not designed to take the weight of vehicles.
Councils are also likely to back a blanket ban because of the damage caused to pavements that are not designed to hold the weight of vehicles
Chair of the House of Commons Transport Committee Lilian Greenwood said on Tuesday: ‘This is an area where some people’s actions cause real difficulties for others.
‘Parking on pavements risks the safety of all groups of people from the littlest to the oldest, with differing needs.
‘While we’re also inquiring into Active Travel – how we get more people to get into walking and cycling – we need to make sure it’s safe to take to the streets.
‘We want to hear from the public about the difficulties this presents and the solutions on offer.’
The closing date to submit written evidence is 14 May 2019.
Both the AA and RAC responded to the announcement, with both suggesting a ban across the country would be too much.
Edmund King, AA president commented: ‘It is right that anti-social pavement parking, which prevents and restricts wheelchair users, blind and partially sighted people and pushchairs travelling around our communities must be tackled. However, a blanket ban would be a step too far.
‘A street-by-street assessment is needed to decide where it may be suitable to allow pavement parking. Where pavement parking is allowed, seven out of 10 (70 per cent) drivers say the bays should be marked out to show how much of the pavement can be used.
‘Pavement parking poses problems on both inner city streets and rural lanes, so the outcome needs to be tailored to the circumstances.’
Parking on pavements has been banned in London since 1974 and is enforced with fines of £70
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes added: ‘There is no doubt that selfish parking that blocks pavements can be a major hindrance and danger to pedestrians and vulnerable road users, and we’d support any move that prevents this sort of activity.
‘The case for an outright ban, however, is not so clear cut.
‘There are instances, particularly on Britain’s many narrow residential streets, where drivers believe they are doing the right thing by putting a wheel or two on the kerb so as not to impede road access for other vehicles and emergency services, while also making sure they leave enough space for people to use the pavement, especially wheelchair users and those with buggies.
‘This inquiry should look carefully at how we can strike the right balance.’
While parking on the pavement is currently not illegal outside of London, drivers can can, however, still get a fine for doing so in some instances, which makes the law somewhat difficult to follow.
Since 1974, Highway Code rule 244 has stated that drivers ‘MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.’
The key difference is the use of ‘must’ and ‘should’ in that statement.
In London, you ‘must’ not park on the pavement – the must indicates there is legislation behind the rule and you could receive a fine for breaking it.
Councils can issue fines of £70 if motorists are caught ignoring this rule, though usually offer a 50 per cent discount on the penalty if it’s paid within 14 days,
However, outside of the capital or elsewhere, the Highway Code states that drivers ‘should’ not park on the pavement, meaning it is advisory rather than backed by legislation.
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