It is time to bring in a nationwide ban on parking on pavements. I am supporting a call by four national organisations to ban pavement parking.
Over Christmas, as throughout the year, pavements around this town and many others have been partially or totally blocked by cars and vans. Yet the roads alongside the pavements have had plenty of room for parking and in most cases, there has not been a parking restriction in sight.
This is selfish parking by motorists who seem to have forgotten that pavements are for pedestrians, children on cycles, people in wheelchairs and on mobility scooters, and parents pushing children in buggies. Pavement users face being forced out into the road because some inconsiderate drivers think that it is better to block the pavement than use a road designed for vehicles to park on.
There has been hope before that the ban on pavement parking would be extended nationwide. It is currently restricted to London. In 2015, Simon Hoare MP presented a private members bill to parliament aiming to bring in a nationwide ban. He withdrew the bill after the government promised a review of current parking legislation and how best to change it.
Nothing happened and any hope that the government might progress faded with the appointment of Chris Grayling as transport secretary. Mr Grayling seems to be a dedicated petrolhead and building more roads and bigger roads is his main priority. The promised review was downgraded to a survey of traffic regulation orders (TROs). This inaction has led to four very different national organisations demanding action. Living Streets, Guide Dogs, the British Parking Association and the Local Government Association (LGA) have written to transport minister Jesse Norman MP urging him to prohibit pavement parking across England and Wales. Their joint letter highlights the danger that pavement parking poses to vulnerable pedestrians.
Living Streets said: “Pavements are for people, not vehicles. As well as being dangerous, vehicles parking on pavements can actually stop people being able to use their streets at all.”
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 footway.”
The LGA said: “Councils would like to have the option for a default ban, with the ability to allow pavement parking in certain circumstances, as is currently available in London. This would be simple and easy for everyone to understand.”
I agree with all of that. It is time to reclaim our pavements from thoughtless car and van drivers. I would welcome the extension of the laws that apply in London to the rest of the country.
Of course, we don’t really need legislation to achieve this. But I despair of changing the attitude of motorists who won’t park on the road because they are concerned about impeding traffic flow. They don’t seem to give a thought to the mobility and safety of pedestrians and vulnerable people who use pavements.
. Some Ludlow residents may have met Simon when he came to the town to promote the Rocks Green supermarket. That was before he was selected to be Conservative MP for North Dorset.
. It is a criminal offence for motorists to drive onto the pavement but not, it seems, to park there in most instances. Goods vehicles with an operating weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes are prohibited from parking on verges and footpaths. More information from the House of Commons Library.