You’ve driven past it thousands of times, weaving in and out of cars parked half on, half off the pavement. Usually you’re ducking in and out of gaps allowing other vehicles to pass by, always keeping a watchful eye for kerb jumpers that pop out between the parked cars.
It’s something that’s become even worse in recent years on new housing estates. Quite often apartments or even large four or five-bed houses are given just one off-road space, which means their parking problem becomes everyone's parking problem.
But last month the Scottish Government proposed a new transport bill to help make transportation in Scotland cleaner smarter and more accessible. One of the critical points was ‘prohibiting double parking and parking on pavements’ the bill would give local authorities the power to enforce this.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said the changes would:
…help transform our towns and cities into cleaner, more accessible and more pleasant spaces to travel and enjoy.
If you didn’t already know, it’s illegal to park on a pavement in London and has been since 1974. This rule doesn’t apply to the rest of the UK though.
Since the Scottish bill made the landmark announcement, rumours have been circling that the Department for Transport is considering rewriting the national traffic laws to make pavement parking illegal across the UK.
But not only is double parking a hassle for the motorist it can be downright dangerous for pedestrians. Daily I see children and parents with buggies walking to school, but they have to take to the road around my local area because of inconsiderate parking. That’s without watching cyclists darting around the stationary four-wheeled obstacles, if you’re a wheelchair user you have no chance.
These new changes would be the same as those found in London, meaning unless you have explicit permission it would be illegal to park with any of your four wheels on the kerb. In doing so, you’d be slapped with a £70 on the spot fine.
It’s strange how this hasn’t happened sooner, local authorities are struggling to fix costly potholes in a timely fashion due to low budgets, that’s without thinking about the growing social care budget gap across the UK. Handing out fines to selfish, menace drivers would be a superb little income generator, one which would also clean up the streets no end.
Rule 244 in the highway code already states:
'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.'
Sadly not all elements of the Highway Code are backed up by the law, pavement parking elsewhere but London isn’t one of them.
Another issue in built up, urban environments is resident safety. If an ambulance or fire engine has to get to a call quickly, they can often be slowed down on blocked entirely by chicanes of parked cars. It happens more than you’d think, in February last year South Yorkshire fire service had to request another unit attend a fire from the other side of town, as the tender from the nearest station was blocked by parked cars.
Numerous arguments are in favour of making pavement parking illegal across the whole country. While it would be hard to actively enforce, a threat of a £70 fine would make people think twice, whether that’s at home or in our city centres.