Four national organisations have written to Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Transport, urging him to prohibit pavement parking across England and Wales* after years of inaction from the Government.

Living Streets, Guide Dogs, the British Parking Association and the Local Government Association (LGA) have co-authored a letter highlighting the danger pavement parking poses to vulnerable pedestrians. People living with sight loss or mobility issues, and parents with buggies are at particular risk when vehicles are parked on the pavement as they’re forced onto the road and into oncoming traffic.

Pavement parking

Pavement parking is currently prohibited in London. In 2015 Simon Hoare MP tabled a Private Members’ Bill to extend the law to bring the rest of England and Wales in line with London. The Bill was withdrawn in December 2015 when the Government promised to review current legislation and assess the implications of changing it. Two years on, this review has not taken place. 

After a roundtable event in March 2016, the commitment to undertake research into addressing pavement parking was downgraded into a survey of traffic regulation orders (TROs). 

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive, Living Streets said: 

“Pavements are for people, not vehicles. As well as being dangerous, vehicles parking on pavements can actually stop people being able to use their streets at all. 

“There need to be tougher and clearer laws on pavement parking. The Government should stop stalling and bring forward the legislation which has been in the pipeline for some time now.” 

James White, Senior Campaigns Manager, Guide Dogs said:

“Parking on pavements is blighting Britain's streets. It puts all pedestrians in danger, but particularly those living with sight loss. It is terrifying for someone who cannot see oncoming traffic to have to take the risk of stepping out into a road just because someone has decided to park on the footway. We’re calling on the Government to end this dangerous practice."

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA’s Transport spokesman, said:

“Irresponsible parking can force pedestrians to step out into the street to get around parked vehicles. This is particularly challenging for parents with prams, or blind or partially-sighted people, or people with mobility difficulties.

“Councils would like to have the option for a default ban, with the ability to allow pavement parking in certain circumstances, as is currently available in London. This would be simple and easy for everyone to understand. 

“Councils would carefully consult with communities on the best parking provision for their area. This move could enable local authorities to better protect vulnerable pedestrians and provide a more consistent approach for all road users.”

*In 2017 the Scottish Parliament consulted on changes to parking rules, including pavement parking, and is expected to legislate.

We’re regularly contacted by disabled and older people who are effectively trapped in their homes because there isn’t enough room on the pavement for wheelchairs or mobility scooters. It is also often a problem on the way to school. Streets that are accessible for all are better for everyone.

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive, Living Streets

The joint letter to Jesse Norman reads: 

Dear Minister, 

We are writing to you as an alliance of organisations, which have backed proposals to harmonise the rules prohibiting pavement parking across England and Wales. We met with your predecessor Andrew Jones MP in March 2016 to discuss Simon Hoare MP’s private members bill at a roundtable event. 

The roundtable was convened following a public commitment from the Government to conduct research into the best solution to tackle problematic pavement parking. Pavement parking is dangerous for pedestrians, especially people with sight loss, parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users and other disabled people. People with sight loss are particularly affected as they can be forced into oncoming traffic which they cannot see. A survey by Guide Dogs showed 97% of blind or partially sighted people encounter problems with street obstructions, and 90% of those had experienced trouble with a pavement parked car.  Pavements are not designed to take the weight of vehicles. Cars parked on pavements cause damage which is costly to repair and makes pavements uneven, creating a trip hazard for pedestrians, especially those with sight loss. 

We are disappointed that after the roundtable, that the commitment to undertake research into addressing pavement parking has narrowed into an intention to carry out a survey of traffic regulation orders (TROs). Whilst welcome in its own right, a  TRO review needs to be accompanied by more extensive  research into solutions. We believe this was the commitment made by Government. 

We firmly believe the best solution is to harmonise the laws to enable councils to prohibit pavement parking except in specific occasions where it is permitted, as is the case in London. This law would improve access for many disabled people and people with young children.  An England and Wales wide law would be simple and easy to understand for motorists, which is why this straightforward change was our original position.

On this we are concerned that deadlines to commence work on TRO reform have been missed. In answer to parliamentary questions about the commencement of the review a deadline of this summer was originally given. In the latest question submitted by Barry Sheerman MP the deadline was postponed to the autumn. Whilst the recently published draft Accessibility Action Plan includes reference to a future TRO review. Given that it is now approaching two years since we discussed action on this problem we are concerned that progress will continue to be delayed.  

We are writing to you to seek:

Confirmation from the Department that planning for the originally promised research into the best solution for tackling problem pavement parking is underway. The research itself should start at the earliest possible date, and we would be keen to facilitate consultation with you on this.

A firm commitment to a timescale for the TRO review. 

We look forward to your response. Please send your response to James White, Guide Dogs, Walkden House, 10 Melton Street, London, NW1 2EB or to james.white@guidedogs.org.uk

Yours sincerely,

Kelvin Reynolds
Director of Corporate and Public Affairs
British Parking Association

James White
Senior Campaigns Manager
Guide Dogs 

Tom Platt
Head of Policy and Communications
Living Streets

Cllr Martin Tett
Transport Spokesman
Local Government Association