In exciting bank holiday news the government have started a consultation on pavement parking. Pavement parking is illegal in London but not elsewhere. The Highway Code prohibits pavement parking but the Highway Code (244) is not legally binding. Pavement parking may make driving a bit easier but can be severely problematic for non car drivers. By blocking the pavement it prevents others from using it freely. As an able bodied person I can generally walk onto the road and be ok, but those with mobility disabilities often have much greater problems. As an example, imagine that you are in a wheelchair and you have a car completely blocking the path. How do you get around the car? If you are lucky you may have a dropped kerb that may allow you to get onto the road to go around the car. Even in this instance, the wheelchair user is potentially being placed in danger by being forced into the road with motor traffic that is moving at much faster speeds than the wheelchair user. We need to design our streets to help the most vulnerable not punish them. The wheelchair user could be a parent with a pushchair or an elderly person with their shopping. Pavement parking is also damaging to pavements. Pavements are not designed to handle the weights of cars, especially the increasingly heavy cars that are becoming the norm. Campaigning organisation Living Streets have a lot more information on this,
The consultation has three options. Option 1 would allow councils to put in Traffic regulation orders to prevent pavement parking. Option 2 would allow councils to give out penalty charge notices to those pavement parking. In the same way that councils can give out penalty charge notices for speeding. Option 3 would make pavement parking illegal across England like it is in London. All 3 options would give exceptions to vehicles like the emergency services and businesses loading and unloading for 20 minutes.
I have responded to the consultation and have put option 3 as my preferred choice. Options 1 and 2 would lead to inconsistencies across the country. Some councils would care about the problem more than others. Enforcing existing laws is often difficult so some councils may ignore new pavement parking laws. With option 3 it is clear that pavement parking is no longer acceptable with a few specific exceptions. We need to redesign our cities so that car users are not prioritised over everybody else. For too long the car user has had our infrastructure designed around them at the expense of everybody else. The needs of pedestrians are over looked when they are often the most vulnerable user of our infrastructure.
The consultation can be found here and is open till November.