The government has announced new proposals to ban pavement parking across the country in a bid to make the roads safer for families and people with disabilities. The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation on the matter, with three different types of ban on the table.
One option is improving the traffic regulation order process to make it easier for councils to prohibit pavement parking in their areas, while another suggestion involves giving councils powers to fine drivers who park on paths. Finally, the government has suggested the possibility of a nationwide ban on pavement parking, similar to the ban already in place in London.
Discussions surrounding pavement parking have been rumbling on for some time, with some slamming the practice as dangerous due to its effects on vulnerable road users who may find their way blocked and need to leave the relative safety of the pavement. However, the RAC has pointed out that it may be necessary on narrow streets to keep traffic flowing.
The government, however, claims parking on pavements should be controlled because it “disproportionately affects people with visual or mobility impairments”. In fact, the DfT says more than 95 percent of wheelchair users and people with visual impairments say they had problems with vehicles parked on pavements.
According to the DfT, the practice “presents a clear safety risk” if it forces people to move from the pavement on to the road. Recent research from the Guide Dogs charity found almost a third (32 percent) of people with vision impairments and almost half (48 percent) of wheelchair users were less willing to go out on their own because of pavement parking.
Nevertheless, the government admits some roads were built long before traffic volumes hit current levels, and any new measures will need to ensure “the free flow of traffic” and emergency service access on narrow roads. And the government says there is still “a major role” for cars and private vehicles, so any future plans “will need to take this into consideration”.
“Parking on pavements means wheelchair users, visually impaired people and parents with pushchairs can be forced into the road, which is not only dangerous but discourages people from making journeys,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “A key part of our green, post-Covid recovery will be encouraging more people to choose active travel, such as walking, so it is vital that we make the nation’s pavements accessible for everyone.”
And Justine Roberts, the founder and CEO of Mumsnet, said visitors to her site have complained about drivers blocking pavements by parking inconsiderately.
“Lots of us have occasionally parked a couple of wheels up on the pavement to leave space on the road without really thinking about how it might inconvenience people,” she said. “It’s a topic that comes up regularly on Mumsnet, where wheelchair users and people with buggies share stories about being forced into the road or having to double back long distances.”