Pavement parking should be BANNED, say seven in ten MailOnline readers

Seven in ten MailOnline and This is Money readers back calls for a ban on pavement parking across England, a poll suggests. 

The Local Government Association (LGA) this weekend said councils should be given powers to fine drivers who block footpaths, describing motorists who park on the pavement as a ‘scourge’ on wheelchair users, the blind and parents with pushchairs.

And the majority of our readers agree; our poll on pavement parking received more than 3,000 responses and found that 69 per cent want the Government to outlaw it across the country.

Julie Pilsworth, 45, from Grimsby, is registered blind and uses a mobility chair. She has given her account of the difficulties she and guide dog, Maeve, face on a daily basis when encountering vehicles blocking the footpath, including some of the angry reactions from owners when asked if they can move to allow her to pass (read her story below).

Seven in ten MailOnline readers have called for pavement parking following calls from councils and charities for the government to outlaw it across England

Seven in ten MailOnline readers have called for pavement parking following calls from councils and charities for the government to outlaw it across England

Some 3,036 MailOnline readers have had their say in our poll (at the time of publishing this story).

When asked if they want pavement parking banned across England, 2,090 voted in favour compared to just 945 responding no.

We surveyed reader opinion as part of our coverage of the LGA’s statement on Saturday, in which it called for the Government to provide more powers to stop motorists using footpaths as parking spaces.

Currently, pavement parking is only banned in London, but councils have been pushing for it to be extended across the whole of England to tackle the issue.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, transport spokesperson for the LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, says it is one of the ‘biggest complaints’ it receives from the public and changes to rules is ‘now long overdue’.

He and the LGA criticised ministers for failing to take action to get to grips on the issue following a consultation into pavement parking in 2020.

More than three years on since it was wrapped up, the Department for Transport is still yet to shine any light on its findings and recommendations to address the problem.

When asked if they want pavement parking banned across England, 2,090 MailOnline readers voted in favour compared to just 945 responding no.

When asked if they want pavement parking banned across England, 2,090 MailOnline readers voted in favour compared to just 945 responding no. 

In 2020, the DfT launched a consultation on extending the ban on pavement parking across England. However, an announcement has yet to be made regarding the findings

In 2020, the DfT launched a consultation on extending the ban on pavement parking across England. However, an announcement has yet to be made regarding the findings

And it’s not just councils who are upping pressure on the Government to introduce change. 

Last year, Guide Dogs launched a campaign for pavement parking to be outlawed, including a petition which currently has just under 28,000 signatures.

Research conducted on its behalf of the charity by YouGov in September found eight in 10 people (85 per cent) know that pavement parking impacts the safety of pedestrians with a vision impairment. And nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) said pavement parking is common where they live.

It also polled local councillors and found the majority (95 per cent) believe it creates a safety risk for pedestrians with a vision impairment, with 70 per cent admitting pavement parking is a problem in their areas.

Like the LGA, Guide Dogs’ campaign has called for national restrictions on pavement parking, saying a ‘clear law is needed where pavement parking is the exception, not the norm, to ensure that everyone can walk their streets safely’.

London is the only location in England where it is illegal to parking on the pavement - even if it's just one or two wheels up the kerb. Scotland has rolled out a ban this year

London is the only location in England where it is illegal to parking on the pavement – even if it’s just one or two wheels up the kerb. Scotland has rolled out a ban this year

Eleanor Briggs, head of policy at the charity, said: ‘The message from the public and local councillors is clear; our streets are not safe because of cars blocking pavements. 

‘The Government need to act now as local councils don’t have the powers they need. 

‘Parking on pavements is a nuisance for everyone, but potentially dangerous if you are a wheelchair user forced onto the road, pushing a child in a buggy or have sight loss and can’t see traffic coming towards you.’

She added: ‘This daily threat can mean people can’t safely get to work, education or to see friends.’

‘I’ve been verbally abused by drivers when I’ve asked if they can move their cars to let me pass…’ 

Julie Pilsworth, 45, from Grimsby, pictured with her guide dog, Maeve, explains the impact of pavement parking on her daily life

Julie Pilsworth, 45, from Grimsby, pictured with her guide dog, Maeve, explains the impact of pavement parking on her daily life

Julie Pilsworth, 45, from Grimsby is registered blind after she was diagnosed with glaucoma, and, due to a catalogue of health problems also uses a mobility chair. 

In addition to this, she is the main carer for her 25-year-old son, Ash, who is also disabled.

Maeve, Julie’s guide dog for four years, helps Julie navigate while she’s out and about, allowing her to independently visit places like the doctors, shops or the chemist to collect Ash’s medication.

But she says pavement parking has created a ‘daily battle’ for her. 

When drivers park across the pavement, she often cannot fit her mobility chair though the gap left between the parked car and the wall. 

Maeve is also specially trained to stop if she does not believe the chair can fit through the space. 

One occasion, when Julie tried to squeeze past using her white cane, prior to working with Maeve, she knocked her head on an outstanding wing mirror, leaving her with a huge lump.

An added layer of difficulty is when cars park across dropped kerbs, where the pavement dips to meet the road. These are the only way Julie, as a mobility chair user, can safely leave the pavement, or risk tipping herself out of the chair by falling off the raised lip.

She said: ‘I am not able to step into the road like other guide dog owners. It would be too dangerous because the chair would tip. I have to turn back and find a drop kerb to get into the road, but then there’s the additional challenge of finding a drop kerb to get back up on the pavement once I have got around the pavement parking.

‘Sometimes I have to turn back and go twenty minutes the other way before I find somewhere suitable to exit the pavement. Due to my health problems, it is a really big issue if I’m struggling for time as I have conditions like bladder incontinence.’

Maeve is specially trained to stop if she does not believe Julie's chair can fit passed a car parked on the pavement

Maeve is specially trained to stop if she does not believe Julie’s chair can fit passed a car parked on the pavement

Julie says pavement parking sometimes forces her to go back in the opposite direction for up to 20 minutes before she can find a suitable dropped kerb to cross the road and avoid vehicles blocking the footpath

Julie says pavement parking sometimes forces her to go back in the opposite direction for up to 20 minutes before she can find a suitable dropped kerb to cross the road and avoid vehicles blocking the footpath

The difficulties pavement parking poses to Julie takes her back to a time before Maeve and the difficulties she faced without Maeve assistance.

‘I felt like my life was nearly over because getting out and about was so difficult,’ she says. 

‘I used to drive and then my sight deteriorated so I had to stop, which was really upsetting. I got really down, and because getting out and about was becoming increasingly difficult, I felt like my life was nearly over. One day I just found it in me to think’: ‘I’ve got to find a way round this’.’

But since Julie was partnered with Maeve, life has totally changed. 

Julie says: ‘The independence and confidence I’ve gained since having Maeve is huge. But pavement parking takes me right back – I just feel like giving up.’

She even recounts occasions where she has been taunted by drivers who are blocking her right of way. 

‘I’ve experienced verbal abuse a number of times for simply telling a driver I cannot get past and asking them to move off the pavement,’ Julie says. 

‘I’ve been brought to tears by some of the abuse I have experienced. 

‘I was so scared because obviously I couldn’t see enough to know what was going on. And when you can’t see what’s going on around you, it is really frightening. You don’t know if they’re going to attack you.

‘One person I spoke to ended up driving off at such speed in such an aggressive way that he almost hit an elderly man and a woman with a pram a few metres down the road…I was so scared.’

For Julie, experiencing pavement parking is dehumanising and is exacerbated by the lack of community awareness. 

She says: ‘sometimes you think what’s the point in even bothering to ask for help, you feel like a nuisance. You don’t expect to be shouted at by people just because you’ve politely asked them if they can move their vehicles so you can get past. I should have the right to use the pavement like anyone else.’

Julie has event recounted some instances where drivers have verbally abused her when she's asked them to move their car from the pavement so she can pass in her chair

Julie has event recounted some instances where drivers have verbally abused her when she’s asked them to move their car from the pavement so she can pass in her chair

Julie says every day is a struggle as a result of drivers using the pavement to park

Julie says every day is a struggle as a result of drivers using the pavement to park

Julie wants more to be done and works hard to raise awareness of the issue, including launching her own Facebook page to educate others on the barriers pavement parking causes for partially sighted people and mobility chair users such as herself.

She says: ‘The problem doesn’t just stop with pavement parking. When you are in the road it doesn’t seem like people slow down when going past – they are too busy with their own journeys. 

‘It’s terrifying being in the road with oncoming traffic, and I always say it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured.’

She adds: ‘Every day is a struggle as it is, just getting by, but then when you’re faced with pavement parkers that are extremely abusive and are shouting at you… I would say it’s existing, really, rather than living.’

Julie is pushing for the government to change the laws around pavement parking and is also pushing for wider community awareness of the issue. 

She says: ‘Pavement parking is so selfish, inconsiderate and dangerous. The government can do more, but it’s just not happening. It should not have to take so many incidents for people to realise how bad an issue this is.’

When motorists park partially – and sometimes fully – on the pavement, it is with often with good intentions in mind.

This is especially the case on narrow roads, with vehicles parked on both sides of the street.

By putting at least two wheels on the footpath, drivers provide more room for other motorists to pass through tight spaces, reducing the likelihood of vehicle-to-vehicle damage as well as causing traffic delays.

Often, when motorists park partially on the pavement, it is due to how narrow a road is. By putting at least two wheels on the footpath, this provides more room for other vehicles to pass through tight spaces. However, this is often to the detriment of pedestrians

Often, when motorists park partially on the pavement, it is due to how narrow a road is. By putting at least two wheels on the footpath, this provides more room for other vehicles to pass through tight spaces. However, this is often to the detriment of pedestrians

The LGA says there is a secondary issue with pavement parking: as well as blocking access for vulnerable pedestrians, it can also cause damage to footways that they are then responsible to repair if they threaten to cause injury

The LGA says there is a secondary issue with pavement parking: as well as blocking access for vulnerable pedestrians, it can also cause damage to footways that they are then responsible to repair if they threaten to cause injury

The LGA says that pavement parking also has secondary impact resulting from heavy vehicles parking on footpaths that are not designed to take such loads.

This can cause pavements to crack and damage the surface, which in turn creates trip and injury hazards for pedestrians.

In these cases, it often results in costly repairs, which come out of councils’ ever-tightening budgets.

While in England it is only banned in London, a nationwide pavement parking ban has been introduced in Scotland this year.

Local authorities as of January 2024 can now dish out fines of £100 if they identify drivers parking on pavements and blocking the footway for pedestrians. The fine amount is reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.

A consultation is also set to take place in Wales on introducing restrictions on pavement parking.

Transport & Environment says new cars are getting wider by 1cm every 2 years on average, and as a result they are too wide for on-street parking bays and bullying cyclists off the road

Transport & Environment says new cars are getting wider by 1cm every 2 years on average, and as a result they are too wide for on-street parking bays and bullying cyclists off the road

The call for pavement parking to be outlawed across England comes weeks after green transport campaigners warned that new models are getting wider on average by 1cm every two years – and many cars are now too wide for on-street parking bays.

Transport & Environment blamed the rise of ‘mega SUVs’ for taking up more of our streets, bulging out of parking spaces and ‘bullying cyclists off the road’.

This is Money contacted the Department for Transport for response to both the LGA and Guide Dogs calls for the ban on pavement parking to be extended to all councils in England.

A DfT spokesperson told us: ‘Everyone should be able to navigate their streets without obstacles, and while local authorities already have powers to prohibit pavement parking through local regulation, we have consulted on further helping them take action. 

‘The response to this will be published in due course.’

The DfT added that councils do already have some powers to tackle parking on the pavement. 

Through Traffic Regulation Orders using powers in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act, councils can issue Penalty Charge Notices (‘parking tickets’) to offending vehicles and have the power to remove vehicles that are illegally parked, the spokesperson pointed out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *