Parking on a pavement: is it illegal?

June 10, 2022 by

Pavement parking rules vary depending on where you are in the country; knowing what they are could save you a fine

The issue of pavement parking has long been a hot topic, for pedestrians and motorists alike. As it stands, unless you are living in the Greater London area, there is no overriding law that bans it completely – although the government is consulting on whether to change this.

Is it illegal to park on the pavement?

The Highway Code states that it is illegal to park on the pavement in London, wholly or partially, unless you see a sign to the contrary; these signs will be obvious, and you may also see bays painted on parts of the pavement to indicate how much of your car you should place on it.

Elsewhere, the rules are less clear cut.

It’s worth knowing a quirk of the Highway Code before we go any further: rules in the code that say you ‘must’ do or not do something are backed up by legislation, meaning you will be breaking the law if you do not comply.

Rules that say you ‘should’ do or not do something are advisory, meaning while it is good practice to obey the Code, there is no law reinforcing this advice.

When it comes to parking on the pavement outside of London, the Highway Code states you ‘should not’ park on the pavement, meaning while it’s not encouraged, you are not prohibited from doing so by default.

The waters are muddied further, however, by another rule in the Highway Code that says you ‘must not’ leave your car in ‘a dangerous position’, or where it creates an unnecessary obstruction to the road. This could, depending on how you have parked and how the rule is interpreted, see you given a ticket.

What happens if I’m caught parking on the pavement?

If you park on the pavement in London in an area where this isn’t explicitly allowed, you face a fine of £130 or £110 depending on what road the pavement is by, although these fines are reduced to £80 or £60 if paid within 14 days.

Elsewhere in the country, you may well be able to park on the pavement without being fined, unless it is deemed that you have parked in a dangerous position. Yet while on some residential roads it is impossible to park without a set of wheels on the pavement, you should always be considerate of how people will make their way down the footpath, bearing in mind that people may be using wheelchairs or pushing baby buggies that need more space than the average pedestrian.

It is your right to appeal any fine, and it will have more merit when you have shown due consideration for other road users.

Can I report someone for parking on the pavement?

If you feel that vehicles are often parked on a specific pavement are infringing on your rights as a pedestrian or road user, then you can ask your local council to enact a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) in your specific area. The number and merits of any complaints  will be assessed for each case. You can also contact the police if a vehicle needs to be moved urgently.

Will the laws change in the future?

The Department for Transport recently conducted a consultation process to assess the need for stricter pavement parking rules. The proposal considered three options:

  • Improving the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) process, under which local authorities can already prohibit pavement parking.
  • A legislative change to allow local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to enforce against ‘unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’.
  • A legislative change to introduce a London-style pavement parking prohibition throughout England.

Scotland also passed a pavement parking ban legislation in 2019, but it has yet to be implemented. While the rules outside of London remain the same for now, these legislations and proposals show that the pavement parking issue could be slowly moving closer to a resolution.

Until then, remember to use your better judgement when parking on the pavement, the roads are for everyone.

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