/ Motoring

Would you ban parking on the pavement?

The Scottish government is planning to ban pavement parking – and the rest of the country could follow suit. Would you support pavement parking prohibition?

As a 17 year-old at college I remember the police coming in to give us a talk on the local parking situation. The college car park was off-limits to students, and the roads surrounding were residential and extremely busy.

With plenty of students having just passed their tests many were flocking to these narrow roads every morning in a bid to park up as close as possible.

Is it illegal?

We were strongly discouraged from parking on the pavement by the police. I remember clearly being told that if there wasn’t enough room for a double pram to get through, then you’d have to move.

But what does the law actually say? In London, it’s crystal clear. The highway code states:

Rule 246: you MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs.

But outside of London, it’s a little more ambiguous. Councils have the power to enforce bans on pavement parking, but it’s not an option that’s widely taken up, or even enforced.

Consideration over convenience

Pavement parking is an issue that many groups feel strongly about, with a survey by Guide Dogs revealing that 97% of blind or partially sighted people encounter problems with street obstructions.

The government has acknowledged the issues, saying that a review is underway which will help tackle inappropriate parking.

It’s so common to see streets of parked cars with two wheels on the pavement, with many people clearly opting for the convenience of being close to their destination or home. Do you think people should be parking more considerately?

Let us know if you’d like to see the rest of the UK following Scotland’s plans for a blanket ban.


Let’s have a total ban on pavement parking unless as in London a white line on the pavement shows the amount of intrusion allowed. I would also go further and ban parking on the ‘wrong’ side of the road at all times, this works very well in Columbus USA where my daughter lives and does not seem to reduce parking spaces.

Philip S says:
25 June 2018

Pavements are for pedestrians. I agree with Ian, that parking should be permitted on the pavement only where authorised and marked.

I believe it is already illegal to park on the “wrong” side of the road – its just not enforced

Most definitely parking on pavements should be banned, as well as on grass verges.Our road now looks like a carpark in the evenings, parked on both sdes, so that in an emergency it would be very difficult for such as a fire engine to pass. The grass verges are either dried and scruffy up in warm weather or rutted and churned up in the wet. My local authority doesn’t seem to care, having just given planning permission for a five-bedroomed house, obviously intended for multiple occupation, (and in today’s style to have multiple cars) to have only two parking spaces – seemingly encouraging on-street parking. If my council can’t be bothered then the only answer is for a national policy – and why only London

Ralfe says:
23 June 2018

Near where I live there are 4 shops with a barrier at the kerbside to stop people walking from those shops into the road. Some drivers now drive between that barrier and the shops to park on the pavement, making it almost impossible to get through with a pram (unbelievably, there is a half-used, free car park at the rear of those shops).The unfortunate thing is, if you give some people an inch they want to take a mile. I can see the reasons for and against but this type of parking must stop somewhere. A total ban, unless permitted with marked out areas, should apply. Pedestrians lose their right of way, get frustrated and sometimes get injured! Councils repair many damaged pavements so council taxes also go up. Ban it, unless specific areas are set aside with clear sign posting! Why is it that traffic wardens and the police are so reluctant to get involved?

Dianne Antcliff says:
23 June 2018

Parking on pavements should be banned. Roads are for cars pavements for walking on. It should be classed as an obstruction.

Paul Flint says:
23 June 2018

Yes. People with prams, people in wheelchairs, children, indeed everyone can be forced to walk into the road by inconsiderate parking on pavements. Pavements are for people. Please campaign to remove any ambiguity so that all parking on pavements is an offence.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

The forty-three people who were killed while walking along the footway were mown down in terrorist outrages. I doubt if many people have been killed – seriously injured perhaps – as a consequence of walking into the road to avoid cars parked on the pavement. Suicidal terrorists will not be impeded by such devices so this product is not the answer to the present problem. I doubt if many local authorities would be inclined to install the Catclaw devices where footway parking was a problem as they have other [non-destructive] measures which can be used.

It’s all very well lots of contributors here saying there should be no parking on the footway whatsoever, but that overlooks the reality of the present situation where – despite austerity – there has been an enormous increase in car ownership and use, where most urban streets and those in new developments are too narrow for two-way traffic plus parking on both sides [or even one-way traffic and single-side parking in many cases], and where the provision of off-street parking has been severely restricted by official planning policy and the economic circumstances of local councils.

Ultimately there will have to be some system of allocation and rationing through permits, designation of no-car developments and streets so that on-street parking is eliminated and overall parking demand reduced, the introduction of specific footway parking restrictions as in London, and a massive investment in public transport [as in London].

I consider that a lot of the pavement parking is unjustified [see the picture at the top of this Conversation] and is because drivers want to protect their car from a side swipe. Thoughtless and selfish parking should be tackled before we go down the road of indiscriminately puncturing people’s tyres. I am surprised that an insurance company should be putting this idea forward!

I remember many years ago a local authority (might have been Coventry but too long back) tried protecting traffic islands with metal spikes in the road. Fortunately it didn’t last. I think such devices are a spiteful way of dealing with situations, and can have many unintended consequences – if you are forced into a “protected” area for some reason, for example. One invention I hope will fail.

Drop spikes, which allow passage over them one-way only, are sometimes installed in car parks but there are other and more pleasant ways of cmpelling one-way traffic.

Mind you, signs are frequently not enough. In Llandudno there’s a scenic drive available to visitors around the Great Orme headland, which is one way and clearly signed as such. However, the numbers of vehicles who don’t seem to see the signs or simply ignore them means it’s not a safe drive in summer, other than at a very low speed. On one occasion we had to help a coach driver out, because he’d come the wrong way round, with a full coach.

brian says:
23 June 2018

If local councils continue to grant planning permission for 4+ bedroom houses where only 2 car parking or less is available then what else can we expect. Also, in northern towns where terraced houses can dominate areas, with no drives or garages how can people park, if they park on street – not pavement – they will block the narrow roads and, if electric cars become the norm. how can people park to connect to their own electricity supply if they are. not close rot home?

Definitely ban parking on pavements. The roads become blocked to emergency vehicles by restricting the width of the road where one car parks correctly and a latecomer parks half on the road and half on the pavement. These selfish parker’s have no regard for pedestrians, those with pushchairs or wheelchair users. For the partially sighted, these cars are particularly dangerous, forcing the pedestrians into the road.

Parking on the pavement is already illegal, but councils can legalise it on a street-by-street basis. That is the law – so all this talk about “banning pavement parking” is nonsense / dangerous misinformation – two children have died already from vans being driven on to pavements to park. What we need is publicity that pavement parking is illegal (by windscreen flyers, posters etc) – and enforcement of the law. See the summary of the law at https://wacm.org.uk/96.html .

Barbara T says:
26 June 2018

I live in Greater London, and observe that it seems to have escaped many drivers’ notice that parking on the pavement is not permitted! I agree that it should be banned – except where expressly authorised. I also notice that drivers will do as others do, and if one parks on the pavement, others are sure to follow. Just down the road near the school I see drivers parking on double yellow lines, with two wheels on the kerb -perhaps this should warrant two tickets.

A total ban on pavement parking would ensure visually impaired people ease of travel on pavements, also for wheelchairs, prams & buggies would find it easier too.
If pave any wide enough, a white line indicating pedestrian use & parking would be the ideal.

The Highway Code, Rule 244, or is it now 246?, is very clear – do not park a vehicle on the pavement. The reasons are quite understandable to any caring person. Roads are for cars, pavements are for pedestrians. Mobility scooters, people with buggies, those with impaired visibility etc., need unimpeded access. How would motorist react if pedestrians obstructed their roads? On the occassions I have asked for vehicles to be taken off the footpath I have been met with gratuitious hostility. No doubt if I had been wearing a blue uniform the request would have been granted!

The rule is a request, not an instruction. “Must not” would be required for the latter. Incidentally, as far as motorists are concerned they are not “their” roads, they are public highways, for all. Including horses, cyclists, pedestrians, handcarts……… I could argue that roads are for people travelling and not for parking vehicles. But I take your point. We have to reconcile the need for proper access along roads to the need to put your car somewhere when it is not in use. Planning and local authorities have neglected this.

The HIghway Code, Rule 244 is quite clear on this matter. As London imposes a penalty of £70 for obstructing a pavement with a vehicle, this should be rolled out across the country to enable mobility scooter, assistance dogs, buggies etc to freely use the pavements. The small proportion of drivers who feel they have a right to cause an obstruction on footpaths would probably the first to complain if pedestrians obstructed the roads!

As a full-time pedestrian (I don’t drive or cycle) I want to say “Yes! Ban pavement parking everywhere – not just in London. Pavements were created for pedestrians, and that’s how they should stay.” Pavements should be clear of obstructions at all times. This is particularly important on routes for walking to and from school and pre-school, for parents with babies in buggies and older children walking alongside. It’s also vitally important for some people with disabilities, not just those in wheelchairs but also those with visual problems – one of my neighbours has to use a guide dog, and guide dogs navigate using the kerb, and have problems if they can’t see it.

But I recognise that the area where I live was built in Victorian times, the streets are narrow and the terrace houses have no drives, garages or back access, and no space for parking – frequently the front of the houses is only about 2 metres from the (narrow) pavement. In many of these roads emergency vehicles could not get through if drivers did not park on the pavement.

In an ideal world people who want to use a car should of course choose to live elsewhere, but that clearly does not happen, and it seems that the majority of households in this area have at least one car, and many have more than one, including the many Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the area. If the law changed and they started getting parking tickets for pavement parking, would they stay put or move away? They would probably stay because its convenient, quiet, pleasant and has reasonable shops and facilities and at least 2 good schools.

Many of these streets are permit parking but it doesn’t help, the pavements are still littered with parked vehicles and it just creates additional problems for unregulated areas near the edge of the controlled zone, which are used by residents of the controlled zones who don’t want to pay for a permit.

Most people try to be reasonable and not cause obstruction, but a few don’t – mostly those who have vans or big 4x4s. Many can’t even be bothered to fold their wing mirrors in. I’ve had arguments with some of them when I’ve complained that they are obstructing the pavement, and I’ve even been told that I should walk in road! The size of modern cars adds to problems, they are much bigger than they were when I moved here over 30 years ago.

There are many other things that also obstruct the pavement and the worst problems occur when pavement parking coincides with (for instance) wheelie bins, overhanging hedges, parked bicycles, building materials etc.etc.

The size of refuse/recycling collection vehicles used locally (they are huge) means that drivers park their vehicles further onto the pavement, so that obstruction is particularly bad on the collection day.

In Cambridge they seem to have found a solution of sorts. In areas of narrow streets similar to where I live, they mark a red line on pavement. Drivers are allowed to park on the pavement up to the red line, but no further. This seems to be a reasonable solution – BUT my local councillor said that this is very expensive, and they cannot afford to do it here. Some local authorities have had budgets cut severely and are having to make very difficult choices, so they are leaving residents to sort the parking problem out between themselves.

One thing that can and should be done is to change planning law and guidelines so that proposed developments that make the parking situation worse can be prevented. In recent years, in the area where I live, two rows of 8 to 10 garages have been demolished for development, and two designated residents’ parking areas have also been built on – so more residents have fewer parking places.

There is now a proposal for flats to be built on the car park of a former office building in the city centre, which is also being turned into flats. Don’t the planners expect people living in the flats to have cars?

Another big question – why is the law not the same for London as it is for other parts of the country? London is a huge city, agreed, but are its problems so very different that it needs special laws? I don’t believe that London’s problems differ so much from say, Greater Manchester or Tyne and Wear, that different laws are justified. The different approach probably stems from the fact that most of the people responsible for the laws (ie. MPs) spend a lot of time in London. If their constituencies are rural, it may be the only big city they spend much time in.

I’d like to thank Which? for raising this very difficult question. I hope my thoughts on it are of interest, and that you can use them for an article that will start a debate and maybe bring some improvements. This problem has been ignored for far too long.

Much as I would like to see pavement parking prohibited everywhere, I think the proposal by the Guide Dogs Association – that it be banned except where specifically allowed by the local authority – is probably the most realistic and workable way forward. An complete ban would in some areas cause enormous upheaval and inconvenience, while in other areas it would just stop people being so lazy.

Some contributors have suggested that pedestrians be allowed on metre of width on a pavement. That’s wide enough to walk in single file – just hope you don’t meet anyone coming the other way. And forget about carrying a bag of shopping in each hand – there won’t be room. And hope no motorist has crossed the white line, or you’re down to three feet or less of width. This is a solution for only exceptional circumstances.

I suggest that where pavement parking is allowed the area should become a resident parking zone. Anyone could park for, maybe, two hours but only residents could have longer stays. The scheme would be financed by sale of permits to residents and the price would depend on the length of the car – longer cars occupy more space, so would pay more. That would encourage residents to buy smaller cars, making room for more of them to park. Any suggestion of imposing charges on motorists tends to be unpopular, but someone has to pay for it , so why not those who primarily benefit from it?

Elsewhere, stop pavement parking completely. On my local housing estate everyone has room in their front garden for two or three cars, and there are large parking bays dotted here and there. While some park in their gardens or the bays, far too many seem to take pride in how much of the pavement they can obstruct. Most pavement parking is the product of laziness, thoughtlessness and lack of consideration.

Existing law is inadequate – we need, on a national basis, something which motorists can understand and authorities can enforce. The concept of obstruction is complicated and ambiguous. “Don’t drive or park on the pavement (except where you are specifically told you can)” is, in comparison, simple and clear.

Back in the late nineties my local authority discussed the already burning issue of pavement parking and decided to adopt a “do nothing” approach. In 2001 the Blair government considered a Select Committee report which, amongst other things, recommended a ban on pavement parking. Blair & co decided to do nothing. Babies born in that period are today’s young drivers, and they have grown up in a country where many see pavement parking as virtually obligatory. I shudder to think where we will be in another twenty years if today’s politicians show a similar lack of principle.

Barry Hendriksen says:
21 July 2018

I’m a pedestrian and a motorist. I’m overall in favour of pavement parking. Motoring would be more of a hazard if cars took up too much road space on narrow roads like the one I live on.

Andrew says:
3 August 2018

But it’s not the hazard to motorists that is in question; they are pretty well protected by a tonne or more of metal, air bags, etc. What is of more concern is the safely and convenience of pedestrians and disabled people. It is their footpath onto which drivers are intruding.

Residents in Blackpool have been asked to rent out their driveways but the scheme has no takers yet: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-44922567

legislation or not, what matters is on-going commitment by the authorities to prosecute those who park without due consideration. The present situation appears to be totally constrained by inadequate police and local authority resources. Parking on footpaths is certainly undesirable and, in some cases can be totally anti-social. Applying more rules, regulations, signage and road marking will only be of value if they are fully enforced.

Lots of us have to live our modern lives with a street scene designed maybe 100 years ago. Not only cars need to be parked, but delivery vehicles, refuse trucks, removal vans, ambulances and fire appliances need access. How this can be achieved depends on the local circumstances and local authorities should be made to carry out thorough inspections of every street to determine a sensible strategy to meet the needs of each individual situation. As others have remarked above, they also must apply sensible assessments of the parking needs of all new housing stock – trying to kid themselves that 1 or 2 spaces is sufficient does not work!!

Andrew says:
3 August 2018

I disagree with those who claim that they need to park on the footpaths due to narrow, busy or crowded roads. What they are effectively saying is that their convenience and the safety of their cars have precedence over the convenience and safety of pedestrians and vulnerable disabled people. In any case I see many drivers parking on footpaths even when the road is not narrow, busy or crowded.

. . . as in the picture at the top of this Conversation.

Only if marked for parking can pavements be used for parking. Unlawful pavement parkers should try pushing a wheelchair onto the road to bypass their car- with no dropped kerb it is a big problem also the risk to life and limb in using the road which is after all for vehicles. Those visually impaired or needing companion assistance to walk have the same difficulty in having to risk walking into the road. As for the huge child buggies popular today, although I can’t see why they have to be so huge and take up most of the pavement making it difficult for others, I would not want to try pushing one into the road to get past an unlawfully parked vehicle especially if I had additional children walking with me.

I once attended a local community forum that was attended by police officers. One of them told a lady, who complained about pavement parking in her narrow road, that pavement parking was legal. I was also once personally told by a policeman to get my car on the pavement so that two cars could still pass each other on the road without going round me. When I objected, in the belief that it wasn’t legal, he told me to put it on the pavement or move on.
I do park on the pavement now, but only if I can leave enough room for wheelchairs, electric buggies, and prams. My main reason for doing that is that there are no disabled parking spaces on the roads that I need to park on to go to essential services. There are none near my physotherapist, podiatrist, dentist, doctor, post office, post box, etc etc, and I cannot walk far because of my disabilities.
I am surprised that disabled organisations are not pro-active in changing this situation. Disabled parking spaces come under the equal opportunities act which is clearly not being observed.
Some boroughs provide free parking with a Blue Badge, but I would prefer to pay and be able to park near my service. Free car parking doesn’t help me to walk. I can’t personally really afford to take local councils to court over this matter.
So if I was stopped from parking on a pavement where I can, it would make my life very difficult and unsafe in denying my access to essential services. My alternative is to use taxis to post letters etc as well as already financing a car.
When I came to live in my present road, the building line was 20 feet behind the garden wall on plots that were about 50 foot wide. We were expected to keep our cars within that space and preferably in the garage built behind the building line. The road used to be empty of any vehicles other than visitors who often used the drives themselves. All my visitors do. Now the 14 to 16 foot wide road, that contains a school gate, is full of cars so that driving down it resembles a slalom course, with probably no room for access by a fire engine. Many of the garages have been converted to extra living space with the consent of the council. Some people are very good and still park in the designated on site space. Others just do not bother.
I am so sorry for those very elderly housebound people who have no car and live in terraced houses in narrow streets with cars parked on their pavements. This is wrong, but have our councils ever planned for the motor cars that have been in such abundance for over 50 years?