Right Driver

Can you park on the footpath?

Parking on the pavement is a huge grey area in the UK unless you’re are in London where it is banned city-wide (unless allowed by borough councils) and the fine is up to £130. Under the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act, motorists are not permitted to park on urban roads with their wheels on pavements, grass verges or any land between carriageways.

The problems with parking on the pavement are:

  • It causes damage to the paving
  • It can damage your tyres and even cause a puncture
  • It creates an obstacle for blind people who must then step into the road to get around the vehicle
  • Pedestrians with prams, pushchairs and walking frames may have to walk on the road to get around the vehicle
  • Riders of mobility scooters may not be able to get past the vehicle

Advocates for the rights of disabled people argue that where pavement parking is tolerated, the free movement of those in wheelchairs can be seriously compromised.

Parking on grass verges also causes damage (especially when it’s muddy).

Rule 244 in the Highway Code says:

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.

There are exceptions to the rule which are outlined in the legislation. This allows fire engines, police vehicles, ambulances, street cleaning and refuse collection vehicles, road and road furniture maintenance vehicles, gritters and vehicles with special permissions to use the pavement. Vehicles with special permissions might include postal vehicles, funeral vehicles or trades vehicles with a permit. Or, signage may be present informing motorists where they are allowed to park on the pavement.

Rule 145 in the Highway Code says:

You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency.

Ironically, in order to park on the pavement, you must contravene rule 145 which has been in place since the 1800s! The rule is not enforced in this case. The only other way a driver could be fined is for causing an obstruction.

What can local councils do about pavement parking?

The Highway Code rule is clear about London (‘must not’) but leaves a grey area for other jurisdictions by saying ‘should not’. It means that it is recommending that vehicles are not parked on the pavement, but it’s up to the local council to decide what to do.

If you contravene rules such as parking on the pavement where there are yellow lines or parking on the pavement in a bus stop, the council might issue a parking ticket because of the waiting restriction; the restrictions cover the entire road from the centre line to the back of the pavement. If bay markings are present, indicating a car park on the road, the council will issue a parking ticket. If there is a dropped kerb indicating a crossing or accessway, the council might issue a ticket, but if that dropped kerb is to a private driveway, councils don’t usually get involved unless there is persistent offending. Find out what you can do if someone blocks your driveway.

Are there any reasons why parking on the pavement is a good idea?

If the road is narrow but the pavement is wide enough, parking partially on the pavement can leave more room for emergency services vehicles to pass. A logical solution in these cases would be to only allow parking on one side of the road, but unfortunately there are thousands of roads across the UK that have this issue and people will want to park near where they live. This was the reason a Private Members’ Bill failed at its second reading in the House of Commons in 2015.

Motorists should find another area to park if parking on the pavement would block pedestrians but parking on the road would block other motorists.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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