cars parked on pavement - Pavement Parking Bans – Have Your Say

Pavement Parking Bans – Have Your Say

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Cars parked on pavement

Pavement parking bans are an emotive topic, but in recent years various stakeholder organisations have been looking at options to help local authorities tackle the problem. Now the public has the opportunity to tell the Department for Transport (DfT) what they think of its proposals as they launch a public consultation.

You can read the DfT’s full consultation publication, Pavement parking: Options for change, for a full, detailed analysis of the issue, and the options being proposed. It’s a long read, though, so here’s our summary of the problems caused by pavement parking and the complex issues under consideration.

We’ve also summed up the three options put forward by the DfT for consultation, and we examine the advantages and disadvantages of each.

How to share your views with the consultation:

The consultative process began on 31 August and will run until 22 November. You can contribute to the debate in a number of ways.

  • Take part in the survey online. Go to
  • Download the response form and email it to [email protected].
  • Email [email protected] directly with your views.

What problems does pavement parking cause?

Parking on kerbs, verges and pavements causes both safety and access issues for different categories of people, including:

  • Wheelchair and mobility scooter users
  • Older people
  • People with visual impairments and guide dogs
  • Carers or parents with pushchairs and prams
  • Ordinary pedestrians

The most obvious danger of a vehicle obstructing the pavement is being forced into the road, into the path of traffic. People with mobility or visual impairments, as well as those who care for others, are more likely to be affected.

But there are other concerns. Pavements aren’t designed to bear the weight of a vehicle, so they inevitably become cracked and uneven over time, creating a trip hazard and causing injuries. This in turn can give rise to personal injury claims against the local authority, not to mention the escalating maintenance costs of repairing damaged pavements.

Why an outright ban on pavement parking isn’t a practical solution

If you have been affected by inconsiderate pavement parking, you may be keen to see an outright ban. Indeed, A Transport Committee inquiry into pavement parking in 2019 concludes by recommending that the government legislates in the long term for a nationwide ban on pavement parking across England. This should be enforceable by local authorities, the report concludes.

However, although pavement parking adversely affects many people, there are complex issues that should be taken into account.

Older towns and cities just weren’t designed to accommodate today’s high volume of traffic. Densely populated terraces with narrow streets and limited off-road parking cover large areas in many parts of the UK. Local authorities may want to crack down on pavement parking, but they also have a responsibility to maintain the free flow of traffic, including for emergency services.

So some form of compromise needs to be found, where exemptions to parking prohibitions are permitted where necessary. But even these considerations are shrouded in shades of grey as you begin to consider how to balance everyone’s needs.

  • How do you define the criteria for an exemption?
  • How do you identify qualified exemptions across millions of UK streets?
  • What’s the best way to enforce pavement parking restrictions where they are put in place?

What do statistics reveal about incidents involving vehicles parked on the pavement?

In 2019 the DfT carried out an evidence review to look more deeply into the problems caused by pavement parking. They consulted widely and drew evidence from a wide range of stakeholders. These included representatives of groups for vulnerable or disabled people, parking associations, motoring organisations, local authorities and various media sources.

57 out of the 68 local authorities who responded to a survey said that pavement parking was a widespread problem in their area. An overwhelming percentage of vulnerable people indicated that they had experienced problems themselves. Yet there is very little data to identify the exact cause of accidents where pedestrians are killed or injured on pavements.

68 local authorities responded to the question:

“How many pedestrians had been hurt in the previous year, either by being hit by a vehicle while walking in the road to pass a parked vehicle, or by a vehicle driving on the pavement to park?”

  • 3 estimated up to 10 incidents
  • 4 estimated more than 10 incidents
  • 7 confirmed no incidents
  • 54 did not know

The DfT acknowledges that much more data is required at a national level to learn about cases where pavement parking was the primary cause of an injury or fatality. Even so, it doesn’t dispute that pavement parking is a hazard to the safety of pedestrians.

Is it illegal to park on the pavement in the UK?

Pavement parking has been prohibited in London since 1974, however, each devolved nation has the power to set their own laws on parking restrictions. So is it illegal to park on the pavement in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?

In Scotland, a national prohibition against pavement parking was enacted in November 2019, largely owing to a successful campaign by the Living Streets organisation. The ban is planned to come into force sometime in 2021 as part of the Transport (Scotland) Bill. A contentious clause allows delivery vehicles to park on the pavement for up to 20 minutes, and there are other exemptions for essential and emergency service vehicles.

Local authorities will be able to apply for exemptions from the national ban, but each exemption is expected to meet strict criteria.

The opposite is true in England and Wales, where there is no nationwide blanket ban on parking on pavements and verges at the moment. However, in some areas local prohibitions may be put in place using a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), which is enforced by the local authority.

The Welsh government intends to convene an expert group to explore ways of clamping down more widely on illegal parking, including pavement parking, across Wales.

In Northern Ireland, there is no general ban on pavement parking, but it’s not permitted at all on urban clearways. Where there are parking restrictions marked on the road, for example yellow lines, those restrictions also apply to the footpath. Parking tickets can be issued to those contravening road restrictions.

About Traffic Regulation Orders

Traffic Regulation Orders give local authorities powers to undertake parking enforcement instead of the police (except in certain circumstances, which we describe a little later). They also have powers to set parking restrictions or exemptions within specific areas, or even at specific times to manage local road traffic measures. Examples might be yellow line restrictions, “no entry”, “no left/right turn” on roads they manage.

If a TRO is in place, the local authority must put signs or road markings in place to clearly indicate areas or streets where pavement parking is banned. Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) employed or contracted by the local authority are then able to enforce restrictions by issuing Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).

That all sounds like good news, but TROs have some drawbacks, too.

  • It can take up to two years, allowing for public consultation, for a TRO to come into force.
  • Enforcing a pavement parking ban in one area can simply move the problem to a nearby area instead.
  • Civil Enforcement Officers usually only work during the day, so pavement parking won’t be regulated during the evenings or at night.

When do police still have jurisdiction over pavement parking?

Currently, 96% of local authorities in England have taken on the enforcement of parking offences. In those areas, pavement parking has therefore become a civil matter rather than a criminal matter. But there are some circumstances where the police still have jurisdiction.

  • Endorsable parking offences, such as dangerous parking, remain criminal, as do all parking offences on motorways and trunk roads. The police can issue a Fixed Penalty Notice, endorse a driver’s licence or bring criminal charges in more serious cases.
  • In areas where a TRO does not exist to specifically ban pavement parking, the police have jurisdiction. They can issue a Fixed Penalty Notice to vehicles causing an obstruction to pedestrians and wheelchair users.

What would happen to the money raised from enforcing a ban on pavement parking?

Local authorities must only use revenue raised from parking offences to keep the enforcement scheme self-financing.

Any surplus must be used for other schemes to improve local transport and the environment. That might include public transport, road improvements or measures to lower environmental pollution.

The three options put forward by the Department for Transport

The Department for Transport wants a greater understanding of pavement parking, so it’s seeking the public’s views on three possible options.

Option 1 – Make it easier to implement TROs

As mentioned above, the process for proposing and implementing TROs can be time-consuming and complex. The purpose of Option 1, therefore, is to review the legislation framework to make it easier for local authorities to bring them into use. However, as we outlined earlier, TROs do have their drawbacks, too.

Option 2 – Extend local authority powers to fine offenders

At present, only the police have the power to enforce a Fixed Penalty Notice for the offence of “unnecessary obstruction of the highway”. That makes it a criminal matter. Option 2 proposes legislative change to allow local authorities with civil parking enforcement (CPE) powers to enforce against ‘unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’. This would be achieved by issuing Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) wherever they find offending vehicles.

This would give Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) the power to address the problem at a local level and avoid the need for nationwide prohibition.

This option wouldn’t entirely remove the police from enforcement. Where pavement parking causes a particularly dangerous obstruction, it would still be appropriate to treat it as a criminal matter.

The secondary legislation required for Option 2 could be implemented fairly quickly, which is a point in its favour. A potential disadvantage, however, is that the phrase “unnecessary obstruction” could easily be open to different interpretations. The offence would need to be carefully defined to avoid inconsistent or inappropriate enforcement.

Option 3 – A nationwide ban on pavement parking

The third option is legislative change to introduce a London-style pavement parking prohibition throughout the whole of England.

The default position would therefore be that parking on kerbs, verges or pavements is automatically prohibited, unless the local authority has specifically exempted an area. Individual exemptions would ensure that traffic flow, safety or access for emergency vehicles is maintained.

In contrast to TROs, areas that are exempt from the ban would have to display traffic signs and road markings to indicate where pavement parking is permitted. (remember, TROs work by using signage to indicate where pavement parking is not permitted.)

The advantage of this proposal is that it establishes a general move towards banning pavement parking. At the same time, it allows the necessary exemptions in specific locations where a ban would be impractical or unsafe. It’s also easier for motorists to remember just one simple consistent rule, that parking on a pavement, kerb or verge is not permitted unless road signs indicate otherwise.

On the other hand, this option represents the most significant change to parking law in many years. The measures required for a local authority to make the necessary preparations and implement them would be a huge undertaking.

  • Every street in their jurisdiction would need to be assessed to identify exempt locations.
  • After this the necessary signage and road markings would have to be put in place.

The time, resources and financial burden of such a scheme in place should not be under-estimated.

Urban vs rural considerations

Another consideration is that London residents are much more receptive to outright bans on pavement parking than the wider country might be. Why? Because in general, London has much lower levels of car ownership and better access to a well-funded public transport infrastructure. This lowers the demand for parking spaces, but the situation is very different in other cities and towns across the country.

Indeed, in rural or less urban areas, levels of car ownership are high due to inaccessible public transport, and so the demand for parking spaces is much greater. Large-scale new home-building often occurs in these areas, too often with inadequate provision for off-street parking. This puts further pressure on local parking capacity. Option 3 is far less likely to receive a warm welcome in these areas!

How to take part:

It’s time to air your views and take part in the debate. You have until 22 November to submit your response to the survey. While the full consultation publication is a long read, it’s well worth acquainting yourself with the many different considerations and points of view. Here’s a reminder of how to take part in the survey:

  • Take part in the survey online. Go to
  • Download the response form and email it to [email protected].
  • Email [email protected] directly with your views.

Further reading on this subject:

DfT’s Inclusive Transport Strategy, published July 2018, aims to create a transport system providing equal access for disabled people by 2030:

Transport Committee’s 2019 report on pavement parking, published March 2020:

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