This month has seen the launch of a new parliamentary enquiry into that most concerning of motoring problems: pavement parking. We drivers engage in this practice for good reasons, but there are also good reasons why pedestrians give us grief about it.
In any case, we’re looking forward to seeing Westminster solve this problem once and for all, by getting a bunch of MPs into a room to have a long and productive conversation about how the rest of us should be driving. This is a devolved issue, so the Transport Committee will only be thinking about how to penalise motorists in England. The Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish will have to answer to their own pavement-parking inquisitions.
What’s wrong with parking on the pavement?
Objections to pavement-parking tend to fall into two categories. First, there’s the fact that every vehicle parked on the pavement is going to reduce the amount of space available to pedestrians. While a slim person might be able to squeeze past the front end of your Transit without much difficulty, wheelchair-users and those in mobility scooters might not.
Second, we should bear in mind that parking a car (or van, or lorry) on the pavement damages the pavement. All of that weight rolling back and forth will eventually cause the curb to crumble, and it’s the local taxpayers who’ll have to foot the bill.
But I need to park on the pavement!
Of course, most motorists aren’t dumping their motors on top of the curb because they’re selfish or mean-spirited. There are some streets (usually narrow, historic ones with densely-packed terraced housing on either side) where double-parking all the way along is totally unavoidable, and you have to get up onto the curb if you don’t want your wing-mirror clipped.
And then there’s the fact that ambulances and other emergency vehicles need to be able to access the street – and so drivers of larger vehicles might have little choice but to clear a path.
What does the law say?
If you’re parking in London, or you’re driving an LGV anywhere in England, then you’re banned from parking on the pavement, thanks to measures introduced in 1974. If you do, you’re risking a fine. And this fine could well be rolled out across England, with local councils being given the power to punish motorists mounting the curb.
What can I do?
The chair of the Committee has declared, “We want to hear from the public about the difficulties this presents and the solutions on offer.” So, any member of the public can write in with their written evidence. Industry voices are sure to dominate, but if you have an axe to grind in this department, you’ll need to submit before the 14th of May. You can submit your evidence here.
In our opinion, it’s a matter of common sense – we drivers tend to consider the street we’re parking on before deciding whether to mount the curb. With that said, some do take things a little bit too far. Striking a balance in the law is therefore sure to be tricky. We hope there’ll be some leeway granted if and when a new rules are rolled out!