The Department for Transport has been considering putting a UK-wide end to pavement parking, bringing the rest of the nation into line with the capital.
Pavement parking creates danger for many people including the blind and partially sighted, wheelchair users, the elderly and mothers with prams.
As most London drivers should already know, it has been law in the capital since 1974 that drivers ‘must not park partially or wholly on the pavement in London and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it’. (Highway Code rule 244). You can get a fine for parking on the pavement in other parts of the UK, but it’s less set in stone.
Guide Dogs has long campaigned for pavement parking to be made illegal in the UK and its research suggests that almost half of UK drivers understand or consider the dangers of parking on the pavement, yet do so anyway. This has suggested that people are openly admitting to creating danger yet are choosing to ignore it.
The RAC has recommended that the public uses ‘common sense’. They say, if you are parking along a narrow road, where parking wholly on the road would stop other cars, and particularly emergency vehicles, from getting through, then it is a sensible option to park partially on a pavement, providing there are no parking restrictions and providing you are not blocking a wheelchair user or pram from using the pavement. If there are restrictions, or your parking would cause wheelchair users or people with prams to have to walk into the road, then you should find somewhere else to park.
The general consensus is, therefore, that pavements are for people, not vehicles. But perhaps this issue isn’t as straightforward to resolve as meets the eye, which is why the DfT has stalled for 40 years on a national ban since imposing the restrictions in London. After all, where would residents of narrow streets park if there are no off-street spaces available?
Whether this becomes national law or not, time will tell. But companies operating fleets can help to make our pavements safer by launching their own internal campaigns to stop their drivers doing it. By educating drivers of the importance of not blocking pavements or walkways, and alerting them to the dangers it causes the general public, and particularly more vulnerable pedestrians, would be an important step forward. After all, some drivers do it when its totally unnecessary due to lack of awareness and understanding of the dangers, and some simple education could bring the risks to their attention.
There’s also another side to this. If your vehicles are liveried, do you want to potentially damage your company’s brand by blocking paths – particularly if you are well-known in a local area?
So, rather than wait for a change to the law, lets preserve pavements for pedestrians and do our bit in the fleet sector to reduce this unsociable behaviour. In doing so, you may save a life and continue to improve the culture of safety within your business.