Is parking on the pavement illegal?

Maria McCarthy / 08 December 2016 ( 19 April 2017 )

Parking on the pavement can be dangerous and annoying – but is it illegal?



Parking is a topic where feelings run high – it could be lack of parking, parking charges or inconsiderate parking. 

But anyone who has ever been forced to walk in the road because of a motorist who has decided to park on the pavement will agree that this particular form of parking can be hugely annoying. And it can be dangerous as well – especially if you happen to be a wheelchair user, pushing a buggy, or have sight loss. 

A survey by the charity Guide Dogs in 2015 showed that 72% of people had been affected by pavement parking and an earlier survey revealed that 69% would support a ban on it.  

The rules on where you are allowed to park

Is parking on the pavement illegal?

The current legislation around parking on the pavement is unclear. In London, it's banned; the Highway Code states in rule 245 that 'You must not park partially or wholly on the pavement in London and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.' This means that offenders in London can be given a parking ticket. 

But elsewhere the 'should not' doesn't mean that it's illegal or that motorists who do park on the pavement are necessarily committing a punishable offence. 

Actually driving on to the foot-way has been banned since the Highways Act of 1835. But despite the fact that it's obvious that a parked vehicle will have been driven onto the foot-way (or pavement) before being parked there, witnesses may be required for a prosecution to proceed.

Local councils have powers under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to restrict or prohibit parking on individual streets by the making of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) and a couple of local authorities – Exeter and Worcester – have banned pavement parking through private acts of parliament. But these processes can be time-consuming.

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Should pavement parking be allowed on some roads?

And of course some motorists will argue that there are particular roads where parking on the pavement doesn't cause inconvenience, or is unavoidable. 

To allow for this and to acknowledge the need for some flexibility the Guide Dogs charity are calling for a ban on pavement parking that operates throughout the UK but with councils being able to specifically permit it on certain roads if wished.

James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at the charity Guide Dogs said, 'Parking on pavements is blighting Britain's streets. It puts all pedestrians in danger, but particularly those living with sight loss. It is terrifying for someone who cannot see oncoming traffic to have to take the risk of stepping out into a road just because someone has decided to park on the walkway. 

"We are campaigning to change this and to make the streets safe for all pedestrians.'

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What can you do about unwanted pavement parking?

The government is currently committed to undertaking new research into the issue of parking on the pavement. If you live in England or Wales and agree with a ban on pavement parking you can help by writing to your local lead council member for transport and asking them to lend their support to the Guide Dogs campaign for legislation to reduce this problem. 

This can be carried out via an online form on the Guide Dogs website which will do a search for the relevant council member in your area and also suggest a template letter – though it's best to edit it to include any personal experiences or opinions on the problems caused by pavement parking, as the more personal the letter the more effective it is likely to be.

The charity Living Streets also campaigns on pavement parking and is a source of information and advice on where the law currently stands and what you can do if it's a problem in your area.

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