It’s been a long time coming. But this morning ministers have launched a consultation on banning vehicles from parking on pavements in most areas. Currently the ban only applies in London. I would welcome the ban being extended to the rest of the country. It is time to reclaim our pavements from thoughtless car and van drivers.

The government’s consultation is asking for opinions on three options. Keep things as they are but clarify some technicalities in the legislation. Give civil enforcement officers working for councils the power to issue penalty charge notices where there is an obstruction. Enforce an outright ban except for emergency vehicles and loading. There is a lot of debate to be had on this topic. I’d like to know your opinions. You can vote and comment below.

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.

A 2014 YouGov poll of people aged 65 and over, commissioned by Living Streets, found that pavement parking was a problem for 73% of older people in their local area. Half said that they would be more likely to walk outside if the pavements were clear of vehicles. A 2018 freedom of information request by Living Streets to local authorities in England revealed that 94% had received letters from members of the public complaining about pavement parking. In 2019, a survey for Guide Dogs, formerly known as Guide Dogs for the Blind, a UK charity for the blind conducted a survey on the impact of pavement parking. It found 95% of visually impaired respondents had had a problem with vehicles parked on pavements in the previous year. This figure was higher for wheelchair users – 98% of those responding having had a problem. Of respondents with vision impairments 32% were less willing to go out on their own because of pavement parking. The figure was 48% for wheelchair users.

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 happened. In 2017, Living Streets, Guide Dogs, the British Parking Association and the Local Government Association  wrote to then transport minister Jesse Norman MP urging him to prohibit pavement parking across England and Wales. Nothing happened. In August 2019, the House of Commons transport select committee called for a nationwide ban on vehicles parking on pavements, except on designated streets. MPs said 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.” Nothing happened.

But Covid-19, and a transport secretary more sympathetic to the needs of those that don’t drive around in cars and vans, has at last persuaded the government to act. Today, the Department for Transport began the consultation on restricting pavement parking promised by Grant Shapps in March.

The government is proposing 3 options:

  1. Improving the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) process, under which local authorities can already prohibit pavement parking. The government doesn’t yet know what these improvements might be and will consult on proposals later.
  2. A legislative change to allow local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to enforce against ‘unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’. This would not apply to emergency vehicles, or delivery vans for up to 20 minutes. Disabled drivers would not get an exemption. Ministers are suggesting a warning is issued on first offence as ‘obstruction’ is difficult to define.
  3. A legislative change to introduce a London-style pavement parking prohibition throughout England. Motorists would only be allowed to park on the pavement where indicated by traffic signs and bay markings, except for emergency vehicles and loading for up to 20 minutes.

The government says it has no preferred option. That’s disappointing after years of debate on the impacts of pavement parking.

One complaint about enforcement of pavement contraventions is that is a ‘licence to raise money’. The use of any penalties is restricted by legislation to paying for local public transport schemes, highway or road improvement projects and improvement measures to reduce environmental pollution.

Respond to the government’s consultation.

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