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Pavement parking


Pavements are for people to walk on - so of course parking on pavements is a major concern for our supporters and the general public.

Vehicles parked on the footway can cause an obstruction and inhibit the independence of many vulnerable people, especially older or disabled people with visual or mobility impairments.  

And when pedestrians, for example families with pushchairs, are forced into the road and into oncoming traffic, pavement parking is simply dangerous.

It is also worth adding that pavement surfaces are not designed to carry the weight of vehicles, and the added maintenance cost of repairing cracked and damaged paving adds an unnecessary financial burden to already cash-strapped councils.

Add to this the economic cost to the NHS of inactivity, and it is beyond argument that pavement parking is, literally and figuratively, an obstacle we must overcome.


Clear pavement needs clear laws

Parking on pavements is currently covered by criminal and civil law, with different rules in different parts of the country, and vastly different experiences of enforcement from district to district.

The laws are confusing - so of course people are confused, as these YouGov figures, commissioned by Guide Dogs, show 46% of drivers confused by current laws on pavement parking and just 5% of drivers know all aspects of current law about pavement parking


Who is responsible for enforcing pavement parking bans?

In most areas your local council or civil enforcement officers contracted on their behalf are responsible for enforcing pavement parking bans.

How can a traffic regulation order (TRO) help stop pavement parking?

Local authorities can restrict pavement parking on individual streets (or by area) by making a traffic regulation order (TRO). The drawback is that this can shift the problem elsewhere. Making a TRO is also a time consuming and expensive process - it takes up to two years and requires extensive public consultation. However, once parking on pavements is banned on a particular street, civil enforcement officers are able to enforce it by issuing a parking control notice – code 62. In April 2017 the government committed to undertake a review of traffic regulation orders. If the process of making traffic regulation orders was less onerous it would make banning pavement parking easier.

What is the situation in Scotland?

Living Streets Scotland leads the Responsible Parking Alliance. In 2015, Sandra White MSP launched the Footway Parking and Double Parking (Scotland) Bill. The bill included measures to ban double parking and parking in front of drop kerbs – already illegal in England and Wales. The bill fell on 23 March 2016, following dissolution of Session 4 of the parliament. MSPs voted in principle to support the ban and the majority of MSPs in new Scottish Parliament were elected on manifestos that commit to banning footway parking. In 2017 the Scottish Parliament consulted on changes to parking rules, including pavement parking and were expected to legislate. This led finally to a ban being passed into law in 2019. However implementation is still not due before 2023 at the earliest due to delays because of Covid19 and concerns tabled by Living Streets over potential pavement parking exemptions for emergency vehicle access. Implementation is expected to be accompanied by a nationwide awareness raising campaign.

What is the situation in London?

Pavement parking is banned throughout the 32 London boroughs, and the City of London under the Greater London (General Purposes) Act 1974. The Highway Code states; 'You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London'. All councils in London can and should enforce this law by issuing parking tickets to any vehicles parked on pavements, unless there is a sign there that specifically permits it.

Does Living Streets recommend people alerting the authorities to pavement parking currently?

We have been criticised for not saying that parking on pavements is already illegal (because you are not allowed to drive on a footway or to cause an obstruction).

We are not saying that people cannot complain to the police or local authorities. Reporting the worst cases and publicising the issue clearly can make a difference.

Living Streets has chosen to highlight the inconsistencies in the law instead because that’s where we think action needs to be taken.

Although reporting cases to the police can be effective, it is not enough to address the problem nationally or across urban and rural areas (where police resources are even more stretched).

Ultimately, we need a culture change. A new law for England and Wales would spell out that drivers must not leave their cars parked on the pavement, unless there is a specific exemption in place.

Accompanied by an awareness raising campaign, making it easier for local authorities to manage and enforce, we stand a chance of putting an end to the problem of inconsiderate and dangerous parking once and for all.

Why do we need a new law? Aren’t existing laws enough?

Firstly, we need a new pavement parking law because it’s a huge problem.

Too many drivers are parking on pavements and it’s putting pedestrians at risk. A YouGov survey (2018) commissioned by Guide Dogs found that 65% of drivers had previously parked on pavements and 43% of drivers had parked on pavements in the last six months.

Living Streets FOI request (2018) found that 93% of local authorities in England and 87% of local authorities in Wales have received complaints from members of the public about pavement parking, but the existing laws are clearly not working.

Driving on the pavement is illegal – so too is causing an obstruction – but our police forces don’t have enough ‘bobbies on the beat’ to enforce the law and respond the scale of the problem. If they did, we wouldn’t have MPs proposing action or progressive transport bills in Scotland, and we and all our partners, including Guide Dogs, Sustrans, RNIB, British Cycling, Scope and Civic Voice (among many others), would not be leading a pavement parking campaign.

Lack of police capacity is one of the reasons that parking offences were decriminalised in the first place and parking management became a local authority responsibility. In London, parking on the pavement is explicitly forbidden by a Private Act of Parliament. Elsewhere councils can use Traffic Regulation Orders to make the act of leaving wheels on the kerb a civil offence.

So parking on pavements is covered by criminal and civil law. Not surprisingly, the YouGov survey above found that only 5% of drivers know fully about all aspects of the law on pavement parking. Raising awareness of the issue would no doubt help, but fundamentally the law needs to be made much, much clearer.

Did you know?

Driving on the pavement is illegal...

... and yet pavement parking itself is not an offence in most parts of the UK. Begging the question: how do vehicles manage to park on the pavements in the first place?


People aged 65 and over polled for Living Streets who said pavement parking was a problem for them in their local area.


Older people who say they would be more likely to walk outside if the pavements were clear of vehicles parked on them.