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Many people do it, sometimes out of necessity; sometimes out of laziness. But parking on or partially on the pavement restricts the use of the pavement for pedestrians, forcing them onto the road. This is not a problem for some but it does put more vulnerable road users at risk such as the elderly, those with disabilities or parents pushing prams.
Groups such Disabled Motoring UK and Guide Dogs UK are actively campaigning to ban the parking of cars on pavements. A survey from Guide Dogs showed that 90% of blind or partially sighted people have experienced trouble with a car parked on the pavement, which as a result, has put them in into a dangerous situation that could have been easily avoided.
There are also other groups who find the parking of vehicles on the pavement more than just annoying such as the Pedestrian Liberation Group who actively put the spotlight on inconsiderate motorists.
However some may argue that parking on the pavement, at least partially, is a necessity. Many terraced homes in urban areas were built without the thought that a car would be parked outside. Most inner city terraced homes were built in the Victorian era or after the Second World War following the Blitz. In 1950 there was less than 2.5 million privately owned cars in the UK, as of 2013 there were 35 million. These cars have to go somewhere are if they were not parked partially on the pavement then traffic could not flow down the road, which is particularly important for emergency vehicles.
There is no national law which prohibits ordinary vehicles from parking on the pavement. However there are some conditions. Only local authorities can impose their own restrictions, such as Greater London where there is practically a blanket ban on parking on the pavement. The only exceptions are if you're able to prove that it was an emergency, for the purpose of safe loading / unloading of goods or you were given specific permission from a police officer.
If you are driving a heavy commercial vehicle, and by heavy we mean one exceeding 7.5 tonnes then there is a national ban from parking on the pavement. Though you can still do so if you can prove that you are exempt from the restriction because of special instruction from an officer, in an emergency or to safely load / unload goods.
Essentially you can park on the pavement unless it is specifically indicated, such as double yellow lines. Also you cannot park on the pavement if it is next to a road with a single yellow line. Many people are not aware of the rule that it means you are prohibited from parking or waiting during peak times, those times should be signed by the roadside.
So unless it is specifically signed you can park on the pavement. But by parking on the pavement you still have to drive up onto the pavement which is illegal. This is stated in the Highways Act 1835: '(Penalty on committing nuisances) if any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway.'
So you can park on the pavement, but you can't drive your vehicle on it. You must be thinking that it must be fine to drive onto the pavement in order to park the vehicle; after all that law was enacted all the way back in 1835. If all old laws were enforced like this one then the landlords would not be allowed to get their customers drunk! (Metropolitan Police Act 1839).
But unlike that obsolete legislation this one has been updated and even specifically mentioned in a briefing paper released by the House of Commons as recent as the 9th November 2015. The paper particularly mentions the case of McArthur v. Jack 1950 in which it states: 'it is an offence wilfully to ride or drive on the footway, even though the driving may last only for a few seconds.'
So the rules are clear-cut; you can park on the pavement so long as it is not in an area where it is specifically prohibited. But you cannot drive your car on the pavement in order to park it. You may be baffled... and rightfully so!
Many people do park partially on the pavement, while showing consideration to pedestrian needs. But unbeknown to them they are still breaking the law by driving their vehicle up on the pavement. Let's hope that technology swiftly reaches to the point in which we all have flying cars so that we can hover and park on the pavement without breaking the rules.
Even though it is against the law you would struggle to find a police officer who would take action against a motorist who was parking on the pavement properly. If all pavement parkers were all punished tomorrow then you could imagine the outcry from all those that think they don't have a choice. Many people who do park on the pavement are considerate of pedestrians and only park there so traffic can still flow through the road.
Simon Hoare is an MP who is calling upon Parliament to back his bill: Pavement Parking (Protection of Vulnerable Pedestrians) Bill 2015-16. If it succeeds there would be a blanket ban from parking on pavements across England and Wales.
What do you think about parking on the pavement? Do you think it is sometimes a necessity? Or would you support a national ban from parking on the pavement? Please leave your comments below:
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