Today the House of Commons transport select committee has called for a nationwide ban on vehicles parking on pavements, except on designated streets. Currently the ban only applies in London. MPs have been examining the issue over the summer. They conclude in today’s report that the government’s inaction on introducing a ban “has left communities blighted by unsightly and obstructive pavement parking and individuals afraid or unable to leave their homes or safely navigate the streets.”
I agree with the committee. 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. It is, as the MPs say, time to act.
It is not unusual to see cars or vans, even HGVs, partially or completely blocking pavements in Ludlow. I have watched people many times struggling to get a pushchair or mobility scooter past. This is selfish behaviour 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. These pavement users too often forced into the road because inconsiderate drivers think that it is better to block the pavement than use a road designed for vehicles to park on.
Most of the time, there is plenty of space on the road to park. But some motorists seem more concerned about delaying traffic for a few seconds that the safety and convenience of pavement users.
The select committee accuses the government of inaction on the issue. The MPs are right. In 2015, Simon Hoare MP withdrew a private members bill seeking to outlaw pavement parking after the government promised a review of parking legislation. Nothing has happened since. In 2017, Living Streets, Guide Dogs, the British Parking Association and the Local Government Association (LGA) wrote to then transport minister Jesse Norman MP urging him to prohibit pavement parking across England and Wales. Nothing has happened since.
In its report, the committee says:
“We are deeply concerned about the Government’s failure to act on this issue, despite long-standing promises to do so. We appreciate that this is a thorny problem that may be difficult to resolve to the satisfaction of all, but the Government’s inaction has left communities blighted by unsightly and obstructive pavement parking and individuals afraid or unable to leave their homes or safely navigate the streets. Scotland is currently legislating for a national ban, while London took action to tackle this issue forty-five years ago. The Government must act to improve the situation in the rest of England and it must do so quickly.
“Some people are unaware that driving on the pavement is illegal. Some people are not aware of the detrimental effect pavement parking can have. It is the responsibility of the Government to run an awareness campaign around the illegality of driving on the pavement and the negative impacts of pavement parking.”
The MPs also call on the government to commit to tackling pavement parking as part of its Loneliness Strategy and consult on a new offence of obstructive pavement parking.
This is long overdue and I hope that the parliament and government finally act.