Pavements Were Not Built for Cars

We as drivers do pay road tax, but that doesn’t mean we own the roads or have some money-given right to leave our cars where we want...

I’ve just bought a house for my wife and myself. The number one priority for me was not location, a south facing garden, energy efficiency, distance to work, it was quite simply; I must have space to park my cars. So I have a garage, a small drive and the driveway in front of the garage - happy days. I do not inconvenience anybody, no matter where I park my cars. I am extremely lucky to have been able to find myself in this situation. I realise that, for many people, some on my street, they do not have the luxury of a private space for their car, so they end up pavement parking. 

Parking half on, half off a pavement, and let’s be honest with each other here, is a drivers way of letting others know he or she is trying to think of other road users. ‘I don’t want other drivers to be unable to get by’, they will be thinking. Or more likely ‘I don’t want my wing mirrors taken off by a bus’. 

However, these drivers neglect thinking about the many more people who do not drive. I’m talking about the human beings known as pedestrians, those without wheels.

Think about the elderly people making their way to the shops or the garden centre, strolling carefully down the pavement. A car, ignorantly perched on the pavement will force the poor pedestrian to walk around, and onto the road. How about the visually impaired? Who relies on their guide dog for their safety? If a pavement parked car means the route becomes too narrow, the dog will stop and then proceed to make their way around the vehicle and again, onto the road. Or what about the parent of carer pushing the pram? Do we really want these sorts of individuals to take their chance on a place designed for our fast moving lumps of metal with wheels? 

Yes, we as drivers do pay road tax, but that doesn’t mean we own the roads or have some money-given right to leave our cars where we want with no thought for others. Roads are for cars but pavements are for people.

In our capital city, London, it has been illegal to ‘Pavement Park’ since 1974 when the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act came into force. The act forbids motorists to park on urban roads in the capital with their car’s wheels resting on footways, grass verges or land between carriageways. That’s why it’s probably a little safer being a pedestrian in London than anywhere else in the UK. Outside London, there are no laws preventing pavement parking whatsoever. Of course, there are many groups and organisations that have campaigned against pavement parkers for years, including the Local Government Association and the charity Living Streets. 

There are hundreds of drivers tutting and shaking their heads reading this right now, thinking that I’m not going to address the main issue. Well, they’re wrong, I am.

If we all desisted in pavement parking we would block the roads, there is a parking problem.

Ultimately the responsibility for solving this problem lies with local authorities/councils who could look to building wider roads. Perhaps even thinking more creatively about parking solutions. In the city of Hull, in an area known as ‘The Dukeries’, the council dealt with this by creating huge one-way systems, allowing people to park on both sides of the road legally, without the need to creep up onto the pavement. Liverpool council have recently created a new cabinet position for Councillor Pam Thomas to tackle the problems with pavement parking around the city.

Two things are certain, one; there will only ever be an increasing amount of cars on the road, and less space to park them. Two; pavement parking is a dangerous and although a well-intentioned act, can lead to inconveniencing others.

I think you're absolutely right when you say infer that pavement parking is down to years and years of poor parking planning by councils and private contractors. Good article.

So its ok to put wheeley bins out twice a week?,

Spot on! My poor Aunt also had this as one of her pet hates. She tapped on an offending a car window with her walking stick one day when a car was blocking her path on the pavement as she walked to post a letter in Reading where she lived happily and independently way into her 80s. The car owner was inside the car and threw open the door, knocking her to the ground. She never recovered and subsequently died. Unfortunately the car owner wasn't charged, as insisted that my Aunt had fallen by herself! Often there is no need for the car to even be on the pavement, when there is adequate space for cars, but force of habit means the driver still mounts the curb! Its time this practice was taken seriously throughout the UK, and pavements can be reclaimed as originally intended - for pedestrians!

I am a wheelchair user and drive, I never park on the footpath as I realise that not just me but the blind and children who have to walk in the roads through inconsiderate drivers. I actually watch some drivers park on the footpath as they do it so naturally. I would love to hear what drivers would do if I was on the road in my wheelchair (not a mobility scooter as I am not idle) they would pap their horn saying get on the FOOTPATH!!!! LOL I have seen children having to walk in the roads because of this. I know for a fact that some streets where they have no option have to park half on and off as the streets are not wide enough. Then that is down to the local councils to do something about it. Yes make it law before the hypocrites that do park on the footpaths have a family member injured or killed because they had to walk in the road. We are all human so do things correctly.

The problem isn’t helped by the ever increasing number of SUV’s on the road. They are massive and serve no purpose on a public highway. They are designed for off roading not for taking kids to school. Getting rid of them will help a lot with parking problems, as 9 out of 10 suv drivers can’t park properly or see where they are going. Madness!

If you need proof of the problem just compare the height of say a Range Rover parked on the pavement, and compare that to a child, someone in a wheelchair, someone less than 6 feet tall, etc, then have them walk round it while you are sitting in a car. You can’t see anything or anyone until they step out! They might as well be hiding behind a wall. Yes most car drivers slow down when confronted by these monsters as they can’t see from either being blinded by their lights as so high then to find that they have pulled up in front of people and forcing them into the road...

Paraphrasing - "drivers don't own the roads" and "Roads are for cars but pavements are for people". Well, wrong on 2 out of 3 I'm afraid.

I am a driver and never park on footpaths, double yellow lines or such, I must be really boring to those drivers that think they are god's gifts to the roads. I am also a cyclist and detest drivers that try to drive as close as possible to cyclists, I also detest cyclists that ride on footpaths. I believe that the problem not only lies with government (local and national) but also with the British public who do not give a fig about other road users and also with the police forces who ignore anything that causes more paperwork for no kudos.

Totally agree motor vehicles do not belong on pavements. I thought it was ant offence to drive a motor vehicle on a pavement Also if a vehicle is parked on a pavement an offence of obstruction is being committed.

I have taken pictures of Pavement Parker's and spoken to the local police, who informed me that they don't prosecute motorist who park illegally on single-white lines. Now I read this as the police can't be bothered in policing an offence in the Highway Code (which we all have to take and pass to get our driving licence) but would enforce the letter of the law if someone got knocked down because they had to venture onto the highway to pass the offending illegal parker. The fact is that there are more people on the roads each year and if a family of 4 all have cars they feel that it's their right to park as near to their house as they can, true, but only if it's done legally. Here's a thought...only two cars per-household...the householder's, so if the children want car's as well....move out and get your own place, with parking!...Just a thought!

Police regularly park partly or wholly on the pavement, not only when an operational need arises but also when going shopping- yes I've seen this. As I understand it it is illegal to drive on the pavement but not to park on it.The only variation is where a local authority has passed a By Law banning such parking. Police need to see a vehicle driving on the pavement in order to prosecute an offence. There is an offence of obstruction of course.

Road tax was abolished about 80 years ago. The tax you now pay is a simple tax that goes into general funds, as does income tax and national insurance. If paying that tax makes a motorist think they have some special privileges such as pavement parking, do I get that privilege, owning a car but one which has no yearly tax to pay?

the highway code says MUST NOT park on pavements in London but SHOULD NOT elsewhere...... MUST NOT is law... SHOULD NOT is guidance and possibly against bye-laws. I HATE pavement parkers... and pavement cyclists... pavements are FOR PEOPLE I fully admit that pavement parking, and cycling, is necessary in some areas..... the highway code thought of that 30yrs ago and introduced signs that say you can park on the kerb, mainly on the pavement or totally on the pavement.. in fact some signs say ONLY on the pavement..... BUT my argument must be, park on the pavement ONLY if there is a sign authorising it.... and NEVER if there is NO SIGN of permission. I DON'T CARE what the law becomes, although I have hopes, but please make the law a UK one.... same law EVERYWHERE and then we all know where we stand or is that park.....

NOTE..... POLICE HAVE NO MORE POWER THAN YOU DO... if parking is illegal.. its illegal

I suggest you read what your local council say about putting wheeled bins out before you say anymore. To actually drive on the pavement is illegal except to gain access to a property. So how in the hell do drivers actually park on the pavement without driving on it?? I guess they're all air lifted in place. To actually park a LGV on the pavement is illegal, but rarely enforced. I have knocked many door mirrors out of place on vehicles parked on pavements as I've walked passed. Pavements are for pedestrians. I feel it will be another law like middle lane hogging that's never enforced, because it means to much hard work for the police!!!!! Though should you go over the speed limit & well that's different.......

I agree that parking on the pavement should be illegal. My understading (from talking to a local police officer) is that it is not illegal to obstruct a footpath with a vehicle, but it is illegal to obstruct a road with a vehicle. If true, this explains a lot about parking behaviour, and the lack of consideration for predestrians. Where I live dozens of people used to park their cars on the pavement on both sides of the road each day, blocking the pavement for pedestrians. We live near a railway station it was clear that most of this parking ws by people wanting to avoid paying to park in the station car park, since it all disappeared at night and at the weekends. In August new parking restrictions have been introduced (4 hours max or residents only) and the pavement parking problem stopped overnight.

I agree wholeheartedly with the comments on this subject. I can also sympathise with those who have no parking facilities. However, I have been in the situation where I was forced off the pavement by a vehicle wanting to park there! This was in a town centre. If it is illegal to drive on a pavement but not to park there it must follow that the law has been broken to get there. Unless the vehicle was lifted to that position.

i think you have somewhat of a chip on your shoulder regarding 4x4s.

There is definitely a problem with pavement parking, There are just too many vehicles on the road, not everybody has an off road parking area, on the road where I live, there are a lot of old terraced houses, if they all parked on the road nothing could get down there as it is a narrow road, like so many in this country. Some one posted that there should be only 2 cars per household, and if the kids want cars they should move out and buy a property of their own. Can your kids afford to do that or do you not have kids? The problem is more vehicles on the road, if the government should do any thing it should limit the population, more people equals more cars. Where are they all going to go?

If it walks like a duck , quacks lack a duck - its a duck. The same applies to the Vehicle Excise Duty its a tax! Even the politicians refer to it as a road tax/car tax.

Well that's pretty arrogant of you!

yep one big chip and probably an inferiority complex as well!

and you know that because you were there then ? Or are you assuming this. Good job we have a judicial system or you would be running your own lynch mob!

They go out on to the pavement and block the way - really annoying as you can't park the car on the pavement.......

Cars parking on pavements is a nightmare for both wheelchair users and motobility scooters. No option but to go around the vehicle by going onto the road. Apart from this hazard is the fact that the kerb may be high and cause the wheelchair or mobility scooter to topple over...usually onto the road into mainstream traffic...highly dangerous. Parking Officers should be allowed to issue Parking fines to discourage motorists from parking on the kerb/footpath.

I live in an area where many of us run small businesses as well as own a car. Parking was not a problem until the local FE college became a university and student houses multiplied. The Uni, could like some others, discourage students from bringing cars with them but they choose not to. Many students are spoilt and selfish choosing to take up parking space on the road instead of using their driveways. Where there were problems residents used to park on verges and drop kerbs. Now the council are planning to force a permit scheme upon us (as if they didn't screw enough money out of car parking). For 2 vehicles it will amount to £92 per year and you won't be garranteed a space. There was no problem until students arrived. I envisage having to sleep in my van some nights to protect my tools if I have to park in a street far from home. (Not a great prospect for a 63 year old.) A solution might be to take out the verges to create space either side of the road but I can't see our pig headed council doing that.

The Highway Code says You MUST NOT drive on or over a footway or footpath except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency. Law RTRO Art 3. Simple!

The Highway Code says You MUST NOT drive on or over a footway or footpath except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency. Law RTRO Art 3. Simple! I live in Belfast, not London and I am taking that excerpt from the Highway Code (Northern Ireland)

Strange how the article remarked about cars being parked half on the pavements but the photos featured cars being parked almost entirely on the pavement. It is reckoned in every access, right-of-way or footpath dispute a width of two feet is all that is required. Anyone who of necessity parks on the pavement and leaves two feet clear for pedestrians is being thoughtful and those who don't leave those two feet are pig-ignorant. The main problem is the majority of streets in British towns and cities are intended for horse drawn traffic and the majority of the houses lining such streets were intended to be occupied by non-horse owning people. Roads and streets are meant for driving on and not for parking on and there is no inherent right for road users to park except for loading and unloading. On-street parking happens only because the authorities effectively turn a blind eye... The situation is further complicated by the ever-increasing size of motor vehicles that when they first replaced horse drawn traffic were a similar size to those vehicles they replaced and therefore far less of a problem. Today's small cars are a similar physical size to the average and sometimes large family cars of the past. A further problem rests with government policy and even more with the catastrophic failure of local authorities for not maintaining the ratio between free off and on-road parking and National vehicle registrations. Today in this town there are fewer than half such parking spaces than four or five decades ago in spite of there being more than double the number of vehicle registrations, yet most rate/Council tax payers would say they expected the money to be used to maintain that status quo. The government policy of many years ago not fixing a maximum number of vehicle registrations far lower than current numbers for our small island is also highly questionable...

With so many cars in a family and new build estates cramming more houses and no parking provisions and on-street parking totally overcrowded by multi car families if they enforced on road parking the streets would be impassable for narrow roads. Local Government are to blame for not thinking on their feet despite having so called councillors on their Committees who should be thinking on behalf of the real people. Yes go on ban and police the situation however those police with common sense will know it will result in total chaos and impassable and blocked up road systems......those with any common sense will understand the rest will just have to wait in the irate Q for their turn to make the one lane only run to the next parking gap.

Our street is a Victorian terrace built before cars were common/invented. No garages or drive ways.The road is narrow but the pavements are massively wise. (3 large slabs.on each side). If everyone parked on the road you'd be lucky to get a bicycle through the gap.

where the feck are they supposed to move out to? no social housing to speak of, private sector to dear and need to win the lottery to get on the housing ladder, over to you Victor Meldrew

Which bit?

I totally agree, there is a lack of housing and the private sector is expensive. So if we all forced the government to comedown on the Banks and Building Societies to look at those folk who are in rented accommodation and see that they are paying their rent on-time with no defaults which make them good in repaying the mortgage, so they can give them the money to by a house. I understand and agree to what you say, but that doesn't change the fact that illegal parking is just that. Instead of having a pop at me have a go at all those rich folk who have bought-up the spare property as second homes or as investments to make more money from our young who are forced into renting rather than buying due to a lack of housing....Just a thought! that meant to be a joke?? Oh! I get it....Bins on pavement can't park car because of bins....Yep! I was right, it isn't a joke!


Even if the women had fallen because she was trying to pass the vehicle which was illegally parked, surely the fault is with the illegally parked vehicle on the pavement or are you suggesting that the fault is with the elderly person for attempting to maintain her right to move around her town and maintain her our highways and byways now only for the young and able and those who feel their needs are greater as a road user than pedestrians and young parents with pushchairs or the disabled. I think not!

Exactly. It is part of general taxation. If it was 'road tax', that would imply that it would be spent on roads. As it is not now (and hasn't been for 80years) a road tax to be used for building roads but a general tax, when people cite it as a reason for special privileges as a car owner they are barking up the wrong tree. I should also point out that just because someone mistakenly refers to something, politician or not that doesn't make it so. If someone feels it is ok to make women with pushchairs, children and others etc walk into the road, that's a matter for them. But there is no legal right that makes car driver more important than other pavement users, certainly not because they pay tax. We all do.

The point I was making that this is mostly likely a fabricated story - The story teller was not there. She 'taped on the window and car owner threw open the door' beside probably scaring the life out of the occupants it makes no sense if she couldn't have passed the car then how was she hit by the door? Ok she might have already passing on the road side - so why tap on the window unless trying to confront the driver. The police might not be smartest cookies in town (!), but even they would have recognised if the lady had been hit by a 'thrown open' door. If you make up stories to prove a point at least make them believable!

This article is a bit city centric. In the countryside, where lanes are often narrow, it is often necessary to use a car (because busses are infrequent or non-existent) and then to park it on the verge at your destination because otherwise nothing would be able to pass. However, in the countryside, we use common sense, and muddle by in our usual good natured way. A "one size fits all" approach is not the answer. What is needed is a general rule, that if there is a pavement, then a car parked on it or the verge next to it, leaves a clear 3ft to the nearest obstruction. This should be sufficient space for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and prams. Where there is just a grass verge, you should allow enough space for a pedestrian to pass on the inside, if that is practicable. In some cul-de-sacs, there is also a problem of access for emergency vehicles, if people are not obliged to park on the pavement on one side of the road. But there isn't much traffic in a cul-de-sac and it is usually going slowly. Yes, it is the responsibility of local councils to put up the necessary signs for pavement parking, not least because the kerbs need strengthening. I am not confident of a commonsense approach being adopted, because politicians seem to lose theirs the moment they are elected. But please don't bring city rules out into the countryside, where we are a bit more tolerant and understanding of other peoples needs.

chris and others the highway code (outside london) says 'should not park on pavement' but ALSO 'must not drive over pavement' unless on a lowered kerb. do NOT confuse them..... BTW I disagree with it..... 'drive over' has been held in law to mean from roadway, ACROSS a pavement, to somewhere OFF the pavement..... i.e. from road to driveway.... whereas parking is to stay ON the pavement. in other words its illegal to drive from road to your driveway unless using a lowered kerb.... staying ON the pavement is only advisory, not illegal (except london) when I moved to lancashire they "nicked you" for parking on a pavement as you had to drive on and off a pavement to get there.... they stopped doing it in the 80s following a number of nit-picking legal cases. it might not be illegal but its anti-social and wrong..... I'm fed up watching zimmers, wheelchairs and prams going into the road to get around a car. CHANGE IT

I agree with the main points that the article raises, I think that with the ever increasing number of cars on the roads that some kind of government intervention and limit per household is not too far away. Much as I dispise government intervention, I can see it happening. One way systems are one solution but will not be practical everywhere. There are many other modern, clever parking solutions such as underground parking, double deck parking or letting everyone turn their front gardens into driveways. I think with the rise of autonomous vehicles there will be no need for cars to be parked outside of people's houses at all. Cars will simply drop you off at your destination and then drive off to go and charge themselves.

Read 'Ask The Police Website' found via Google. See Q837.There it states that it is illegal to drive on the pavement, but not to park there, unless there is a By Law making on pavement parking illegal. If such a By Law has been passed by a Local Authority there must be a Sign stating so. Obstruction can be legally created by parking on the pavement & a FPN may be issued.

Drivers don't pay road tax, they pay a tax on their emissions (VED). General taxation such as council tax pays for the roads and as you'll be aware, everyone pays this. It is important you get this point right as your points about blocking the pavement are good, but incorrectly suggesting that drivers somehow have a greater right to use the roads due to this mythical road tax is clearly counterproductive.

"we as drivers do pay road tax, but that doesn’t mean we own the roads or have some money-given right to leave our cars where we want with no thought for others. Roads are for cars but pavements are for people." DOESN'T mean we own the roads - maybe read it again Mr Isers?

Yes the author does state that but unfortunately starting the sentence and in fact the article sub line with the incorrect statement makes the point confused. It's basically saying "we do have more right to the road than everyone else because we pay for it (incorrect) but we cant behave like we own it (correct). And anyway what makes you think I'm male?

Well I read it as the writer as essentially agreeing with your point. That 'road tax' does not give drivers any extra rights. The fact that it is based on emissions is irrelevant - it is not spent on roads. Yes we all pay council tax, which is spent on roads and pavements - are you suggesting that cars do have a right to go onto pavements, as drivers pay council tax too? Apologies if you are a lady and I referred to you as a man, that's a bad habit of mine I'm afraid.

Absolutely not. Cars should never be on the pavement. Pavement parking is selfish, dangerous, and in many areas, illegal. Maybe read what I wrote again?

No need, it sounds like we are in agreement now Mrs Isers.

No complex just a point that without monster trucks that are in access of 8 feet tall road to roof then cars of normal size would be able to see where they are going unless following a lorry or a high van. I lost my 8 year old daughter to a Range Rover discovery due to the fact the driver didn’t see her. When they did a visibility range check, ANYONE less than 4 foot tall is COMPLETELY INVISIBLE to the driver! Now you tell me why I should be happy to follow these massive kid killers and you need a vehicle that is designed for farming and safari on a road in the U.K.