At a time when parking your car is subject to extreme focus, mainly thanks to the ever-increasing parking charges, the House of Commons Transport Committee is to look into different options to potentially stop people from parking on pavements.

At first glance, this could be a great thing – the age of social media and sharing means that we constantly get to see the cases of inconsiderate parking splashed across the many digital channels open to us, whether that’s a young parent with a child in a buggy being forced in to the road, or someone less able-bodied in a wheelchair risking life & limb to get past a poorly parked car. We’d all agree that the person responsible should suffer consequences.

However, as the saying goes, let those without sin cast the first stone (or a variant thereof).

New guidelines

You may be thinking that you have never, and will never, be responsible for such inconsiderate behaviour, but the guidelines being considered would treat you the same; whether you’ve parked all four wheels on the pavement, or accidentally raised one wheel on the kerb in an effort to park. Using that definition, who can honestly say they’ve never parked on the pavement?

Personally speaking, if a poorly placed wheel constitutes parking on the pavement, my local council could make up any budget deficit simply by spending a week or two outside my mother’s house, and that’s the problem; the term ‘blanket ban’ and the definition of which that it constitutes.

A blanket ban on pavement parking, by its very definition, encompasses all roads (London introduced similar in 1974), and this would mean an increase in overhead for all local authorities, not only to implement the changes, but to police it, and of course there are roads where parking on the pavement is essential for the flow of traffic, which could also lead to a strain in available parking spaces.

Then there’s the definition – one wheel or four, you’re guilty of parking on the pavement and liable to a fine of £70 for each offence. (That’s each time it happens, not per wheel). Given the fact that implementing and running such schemes would likely involve significant cost, you’d have to assume that any ‘Parking Officer’ would be razor sharp on delivering tickets.

Inconsiderate parking

Surely a better solution would be to clamp down on inconsiderate parking? This would find almost universal favour with both pedestrians and motorists alike, costs would be lessened, and they could even look to the public to help with self-reporting – providing there is photographic evidence. Of course, the cynic would say that revenue generation wouldn’t be as high.

Local authorities say that parking on pavements (even with just one wheel) has cost implications, mainly due to the extra wear & tear on the pavement, which hasn’t been designed to carry the extra load of a car. However, that extra cost should be balanced against the cost for employing a 24-hour service of parking officers, unless of course, they sub-contract the work to the highest bidder, which then take a percentage of any fines levied. Conflict of interest anyone?

This is a similar issue to that of speed cameras – catching motorists with a blatant disregard for safety and speed limits is good, treating all motorists in all conditions for a minor infringement of an arbitrary limit, not quite so good.

Simple answer

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. How should we stop repeat offenders without causing inconvenience (or expense) to those that are more innocent? In days gone by, perhaps there would be more faith in the relevant authorities to act fairly, to understand that sometimes, circumstances beyond our control gave rise to a situation, but we live in a target driven society, and what may have been a judgement call once, is now usually called in favour of the authority.

Edmund King, AA president said: “It is right that anti-social pavement parking, which prevents and restricts wheelchair users, blind and partially sighted people and pushchairs travelling around our communities must be tackled, however, a blanket ban would be a step too far. A street-by-street assessment is needed to decide where it may be suitable to allow pavement parking. Pavement parking poses problems on both inner city streets and rural lanes, so the outcome needs to be tailored to the circumstances.”

The House of Commons Transport Committee are actively looking for feedback on how this issue can be resolved, and the difficulties that it presents, if you feel that your voice should be heard, closing date for submitting written evidence is 14th May 2019.

How do you think this issue could be resolved? Is it as simple as introducing a blanket ban? Or perhaps the authorities should look to clamp down on purely inconsiderate parking? Let us know in the comments.

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