Opinion: Do Pavement Parkers Deserve Scratched Cars?
UK’s cramped roads and pavements leave us struggling to find a space
Anyone who has ever tried cycling with small children will tell you how difficult it is to guide them safely past a car parked on the pavement.
The gap between the car and adjacent garden walls appears to narrow dramatically in the child’s mind, often sending them careering towards the shiny metal finish of someone’s prized possession.
Try as one might, it can be near impossible to prevent the handlebars of the youngster’s bicycle or scooter connecting with one of the panels.
The big question is: who is to blame if that does happen?
According to an article on the website of the ETA – formerly the Environmental Transport Association – “cycling on footways is technically prohibited for cyclists of any age In England and Wales,” with a maximum fine of up to £500.
However, police, community support officers and traffic wardens have been encouraged to show discretion towards smaller children and older cyclists whose behaviour is not endangering other people on the pavement.
Even so, there will still be those who argue that cyclists and scooters should never be used on the pavement.
I will counter that by asking whether any sensible person would ever suggest that a small child share the roads with thundering trucks.
There is of course an arguably more serious debate relating to the way in which cars parked on pavements cause difficulties for the blind and partially sighted, and those people who struggle to walk or use a wheelchair.
Is It Illegal For Motorists To Pavement Park?
But what of motorists? Can they legally park on the pavement? Are they really in the wrong?
“Local authorities (in England) can make an order prohibiting parking on the pavement. If this is the case, then there will be signs which clearly point out on a particular road where parking on the pavement is specifically prohibited. The penalty for contravening this will be a fixed penalty notice.
Otherwise, parking a vehicle on the pavement could lead to an offence of obstruction being committed. This could result in a fixed penalty notice being issued to offending vehicles. It can also cause danger/nuisance for pedestrians and wheelchairs users.”
According to the Government, the law in London is unequivocal.
Its advice is that: “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.”
The most pressing issue facing all users of roads and pavements would appear to be the finite space available for pedestrians and motorists using highways and byways which, in the vast majority of cases, were simply not designed for the volume of traffic that we see today.
Cars are now left cheek by jowl in small cul-de-sacs designed when the family motor was still a rarity.
Many homes do not have driveways. Some homes have several cars but space for only one.
Ripping out pavements and garden walls across the country to provide additional parking spaces is one option, but is likely to be prohibitively expensive and disruptive.
One thing is clear, however, this situation is only going to get worse as the number of vehicles in the country continues to rise. Even some commuting cyclists keep cars at home.
For now, the only practical solution might be for people to show more consideration to others when parking or passing a car... and buy a touch-up pen.