This paper outlines the general legal position on what is generally called ‘pavement parking’ and the measures available to the police and local authorities to tackle it.

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The term ‘pavement parking’ can be confusing, as it can be used to describe a range of practices – from on-street parking at the side of the road, to parking either partially or entirely on the pavement. For the purposes of this paper:

  • ‘Pavement’ parking is used to describe parking where one or more wheels of a vehicle are on the pavement;
  • other parking at the side of the road is described as ‘on-street’ parking.

There is no national prohibition against either on-street or pavement parking except in the latter case in London and more widely in relation to heavy commercial vehicles. However, it is an offence to drive onto the pavement, whether with intention to park or not. Because this is a criminal rather than a civil offence, it is enforceable by the police, not the local authority. There have long been concerns about the extent to which this is enforced.

This paper focuses on the position in England, but it is worth noting that In Scotland the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 gives the Scottish Government the power to introduce a national ban on pavement and double parking. At date of publication, no secondary legislation or further details of how this will be implanted have been published.

Local authorities and the police may act to tackle on-street and pavement parking in various ways, such as under legislation governing obstruction and dangerous parking; designating limited areas of ‘no pavement parking’ through a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO); or establishing a special parking area.

There are long-standing campaigns to introduce a complete ban on pavement parking in England, and to make this a civil offence enforceable by local authorities. Pavement parking causes an obstruction to pedestrians and poses particular difficulties for blind and partially-sighted people, wheelchair and mobility scooter users and those with pushchairs and prams. These campaigns have resulted in Private Members’ Bills being introduced in Parliament to improve local authority controls over pavement parking. The most recent of these was Simon Hoare’s Pavement Parking (Protection of Vulnerable Pedestrians) Bill 2015-16, which was debated in the House of Commons in December 2015, and subsequently withdrawn by the Member after securing commitments from the Government to progress some of the issues he raised.

The House of Commons Transport Committee held an inquiry into pavement parking in 2019, releasing their report in September 2019. The Committee criticised the Department for Transport for failing to take action on pavement parking and recommended that in the long term a ban on pavement parking should be implemented across England. Parliament dissolved for the 2019 General Election before the Government could issue a response.

Information on other parking-related matters can be found on the Parliament website

  • Commons Research Briefing SN01170
  • Author: Marguerite Page
  • Topics: Roads

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