Parking on pavements could be banned across England under government plans to ease journeys for disabled people and parents pushing prams.
The practice is banned in London but elsewhere in the country it is only prohibited for lorries.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is consulting on three options in relation to pavement parking: extending the London-style ban nationwide, making it easier for councils to prohibit pavement parking and giving councils the power to fine offenders.
Recent research from charity Guide Dogs indicated that 32% of people with visual impairments and 48% of wheelchair users are less keen to go out on their own because of antisocial pavement parking.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “Parking on pavements means wheelchair users, visually impaired people and parents with pushchairs can be forced into the road, which is not only dangerous but discourages people from making journeys.
“A key part of our green, post-Covid recovery will be encouraging more people to choose active travel, such as walking, so it is vital that we make the nation’s pavements accessible for everyone. Pavement parking presents a clear safety risk when parked cars occupy the pavement and force vulnerable pedestrians to move into the road.”
The DfT stated that any measures will need to “ensure the free-flow of traffic and access for the emergency services”.
A report by the Commons transport select committee last September called for a blanket nationwide ban on the “blight” of parking on pavements.
Witnesses told MPs that the worst cases of pavement parking were effectively trapping disabled, elderly and vulnerable people, making them “afraid to leave their homes”.
Stephen Edwards, director of policy and communications at walking charity Living Streets, said: “We’re regularly contacted by disabled and older people who feel trapped in their homes because there isn’t enough room on the pavement for wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
“This has impacted more people during the pandemic, with blocked pavements affecting everyone’s ability to physically distance.”
Justine Roberts, founder and chief executive of Mumsnet, said: “Lots of us have occasionally parked a couple of wheels up on the pavement to leave space on the road without really thinking about how it might inconvenience people.
“It’s a topic that comes up regularly on Mumsnet, where wheelchair users and people with buggies share stories about being forced into the road, or having to double back long distances.”
However, the AA warned a ban would have “unintended consequences”. Its head of roads policy, Jack Cousens, said: “As we have seen over the past few weeks with road closures and narrowed roads, councils have acted with little consultation and in many cases lost confidence of the communities they serve.
“Local authorities should make a street-by-street assessment and where pavement parking is allowed, markings should show how much pavement can be used.
“While councils have always had the powers to tackle problem parking, it would be typical if the only time they act is when there is fines income to be had from it.”
Source: The Guardian