Legislation discourages highway obstructions

highway obstruction 1Parking on pavements is a problem that many local authorities have been unable to address. Cars parked on narrow streets need to allow for the passage of traffic, but pedestrians also need unimpeded access to the pavement.

Two roads in Oundle where pedestrians have reported problems with pavement parking are Cotterstock Road during school drop-off and pick-up times, and Blackpot Lane, a narrow one-way road where cars park on pavement, blocking pedestrians.

For the physically handicapped, parents with pushchairs and the elderly, this can lead to great inconvenience and poses safety risks if pedestrians with mobility limitations are pushed into the road.

In recent years, however, there have been attempts to update the legislation from the Highways Act of 1835 that prohibits driving on paths meant for foot passengers. The law prohibits “wilfully” riding or driving on the footway, “even though the driving may last only for a few seconds”, which implies the prohibition of parking.

A 3 Fixed Penalty Notice can be served instead of prosecution. Although not all police forces take active steps to enforce this law, many more are now doing so in order to prevent parking on the pavement. London has a longstanding 40-years ban of pavement parking.

A bill in 2015 from Conservative MP Simon Hoare sought to address the issue. He proposed that “a person who parks a motor vehicle wholly or partly on the verge of an urban road, or on a footway comprised of an urban road, is guilty of a civil offence.”

The bill didn’t make it past a second reading in the House of Commons after doubts were raised over where residents of narrow streets could park if there are no off-street spaces available.

In late 2018 transport minister Jesse Norman announced another review into the rules with a response expected later this year.

He said: “The department is now undertaking a broader piece of work to gather evidence on the issue of pavement parking. We expect to be able to draw conclusions later this year.”

Jerry Li
May 2019