Motor vehicle ownership has continued to increase and, with the same amount of parking space available, this has resulted in problems for both drivers and non-drivers. Parking has become a major source of friction and often leads to disputes, ill-will and a general lack of respect for each other. Worse still there seems to have been an increase in the amount of selfish and thoughtless parking where drivers only seem to consider their own priorities and ignore the effects their actions may have on others.
This article is aimed at helping you to appreciate some of the complexities that surround our parking laws.
Parking on, or next to, Dropped Kerbs
There are two types of dropped kerbs, those outside driveways allowing easy access to the residents of individual houses and those used for pedestrian crossovers.
The law basically says that you should not obstruct dropped kerbs unless you are obstructing a dropped kerb outside a house with the permission of the owner. Of course, obstructing any dropped kerb will cause inconvenience either to the owner of the property who cannot obtain access or egress from their property, or in respect of pedestrian dropped kerbs you can even cause danger to pedestrians, particularly the elderly, disabled and mothers with prams. The legislation which allows local authorities to issue Penalty Charge Notices to vehicles parked across kerbs is the Traffic Management Act 2004 and the London Local Authorities and Transport Act 2003. Parking across certain dropped kerbs is also contrary to Highway Code rule 243 which states:
Do not stop or park:
- Where the kerb has been lowered to help wheelchair users and powered mobility vehicles;
- In front of an entrance to a property.
- This applies to all motorists, including
- Blue Badge holders
- Permit holders
Regional and Local Transport Minister, Norman Baker said in February 2011, "Most drivers are considerate and do not park on the pavement unless it is permitted or necessary. However, there is a selfish minority who do not use their common sense and dump their cars wherever it suits them without a second thought for others.”
Whittlesey is no different to any other part of the country where pavement parking has caused difficulties for pedestrians, in particular the elderly and disabled.
Where parking restrictions are marked on the road, for example yellow lines, those restrictions also apply to the footway (pavement). Therefore parking tickets (PCNs) can be issued to vehicles which are parked in contravention of the restrictions.
Footway (pavement) parking is not permitted at any time along the length of urban clearways and parking tickets (PCNs) can be issued to vehicles parked in contravention.
Apart from urban clearways, there is no general ban on footway (pavement) parking. Where there are no parking restrictions marked on the road, parking tickets cannot be issued to vehicles on the footway (pavement). If, however, a problem of obstruction arises as a result of vehicles parked on a footway, that situation can be dealt with.
In most areas of England (outside London), any specific footway parking ban is applied locally and indicated by traffic signs. A local authority can make a traffic regulation order (TRO) to prohibit footway parking on a designated length of highway or over a wider area. This means the Council can target problem areas rather than applying a blanket ban.
The police are able to regulate pavement parking, but only when a vehicle is deemed to be causing an obstruction.
The local authority has the power to protect your pavement. You can tell them that you support a pavement parking ban across your area, and find out what they’re doing to clamp down on pavement parkers
The Highways Act 1980 includes an obligation on councils to “provide in or by the side of a highway … a proper and sufficient footway as part of the highway in any case where they consider the provision of a footway as necessary or desirable for the safety or accommodation of pedestrians.” Highways Act 1980 (section 66)
In 2006 The Parliamentary select committee on ‘parking and enforcement’ reported that ‘Parking on the pavement is likely to cause a grave danger to pedestrians. In particular, it creates hazards for people with disabilities and visual impairments, older people, and those with prams or pushchairs … We accept that the problem of vehicles obstructing footpaths country-wide is a large one and a major effort would be required to enforce the law. But the ‘do- nothing’ response of the Department is no longer a credible option. To periodically examine what is widely accepted as a problem and then fail to take any positive measures is not the quality of response that the general public has a right to expect from the Department‘.
Every English traffic authority has been issued with the special authorisation necessary to use the appropriate signs.
Local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers can enforce this ban along with the Road Traffic Act 1988 prohibition on heavy goods vehicles parking on the pavement.
Local authorities can use physical measures such as high kerbs or bollards to prevent vehicles mounting the footway where footway parking is a particular problem. Such measures have the advantage of being largely self-enforcing.
In some locations, the implementation of waiting restrictions and the subsequent enforcement of these restrictions can deter pavement parking.
However, leaving vehicles where they could cause danger, or obstruction, to others may be a different matter. The police are able to regulate pavement parking when a vehicle is deemed to be causing an obstruction.
What the Highway Code Says about Parking
The Highway Code applies to England, Scotland and Wales. The Highway Code is essential reading for everyone.
You MUST NOT wait or park on yellow lines during the times of operation shown on nearby time plates (or zone entry signs if in a Controlled Parking Zone) – see 'Information signs' and 'Road markings'. Double yellow lines indicate a prohibition of waiting at any time even if there are no upright signs. You MUST NOT wait or park, or stop to set down and pick up passengers, on school entrance markings (see 'Road markings') when upright signs indicate a prohibition of stopping.
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.
Goods vehicles. Vehicles with a maximum laden weight of over 7.5 tonnes (including any trailer) MUST NOT be parked on a verge, pavement or any land situated between carriageways, without police permission. The only exception is when parking is essential for loading and unloading, in which case the vehicle MUST NOT be left unattended.
Driving on the Pavement
Pavement parking may not necessarily break a regulation but driving onto the pavement appears to be a different matter. The Highway Act 1835, Section 72 covers the penalty on persons committing nuisances by riding on footpaths. It states that “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; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon;. . . . . . . . every person so offending in any of the cases aforesaid shall for each and every such offence forfeit and pay any sum not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale, over and above the damages occasioned thereby”. The crucial phrase “or carriage of any description” would appear to include any kind of vehicle.
Decriminalized Parking Enforcement
Operating DPE means that the council in question is responsible for enforcing the on street parking in that area. If the council does not operate Decriminalized Parking Enforcement then it is the responsibility of the local police force to enforce On Street Parking in that area. DPE has proved helpful in many authorities where removing the burden of parking enforcement from the police who often have a focus on other matters onto a local authority which already deals with many highway related and nuisance matters
Parking enforcement in Fenland is still the responsibility of Cambridgeshire Constabulary. Fenland District Council does carry out parking enforcement in Council owned car parks where they have authority to do so.
Obstructing the Pavement with Road Works Signage
Temporary signs near road works can sometimes obstruct the footpath. The official guidance states that “in no circumstances must the width of the footway be reduced to less than 1m, preferably not less than 1.5m” (Traffic Signs Manual, chapter 8 clause D4.4.1). A large percentage of signs on the street fail the 1 metre test.
It is possible to complain about any signs that leave less than 1 metre on FixMyStreet or directly to the relevant council or contractor.
Causing Danger to Other Road Users
Selfish and downright dangerous parking does appear to be on the increase since many households own more than one vehicle where parking space at best allows for only one and as greater use of vehicles adds pressure to local road systems which, particularly in towns, were designed before widespread vehicle use.
Surrey County Council states that “in common law, drivers have the right to pass and re-pass along the road. There is no legal right to park on a road, verge or footway” and Suffolk County Council says “There is no legal right for anyone to park on a public road or outside their property“.
What constitutes Dangerous Parking
The traffic law states that, “If a person in charge of a vehicle causes or permits the vehicle or a trailer drawn by it to remain at rest on a road in such a position or in such condition or in such circumstances as to involve a danger of injury to other persons using the road, he is guilty of an offence.” A driver may be open to prosecution, whether there are signs restricting parking on the verge or not, if their vehicle is persistently damaging a verge, parked dangerously or causing an obstruction.
What constitutes “dangerous” requires careful thought. We are not looking at inconvenient, annoying or just plain selfish but something which could cause danger. The law defines dangerous as where there is danger either of injury to any person while on or near a road, or of serious damage to property on or near a road. To decide whether something is dangerous it is stated that it is, ” what would be obvious to a reasonable person in a particular case” and that “regard shall be had not only to the circumstances of which he could be expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused.”
In simple terms then, a person is guilty of an offence if he intentionally and without lawful authority or reasonable cause:
- causes anything to be on or over a road, or
- interferes with a motor vehicle, trailer or cycle, or
- interferes (directly or indirectly) with traffic equipment,
- in such circumstances that it would be obvious to a reasonable person that to do so would be dangerous.
I leave it for you to consider the scene in the photograph and decide for yourself whether it is an example of dangerous parking or not.
The above text is a collection of personal thoughts and snippets from the law as I understand it. It is not intended as a legal guide and is provided in good faith. If you find any errors or important omissions please let me know and I will amend the text accordingly.