Written 4th February 2015 by Olliers Solicitors

Parking on pavements could soon be banned across Greater Manchester.

A Bill is currently moving through Parliament which, if passed, would make it illegal for drivers to leave their cars on paths. The charities Guide Dogs and Living Streets are backing the move, saying treating pavements like car parks ‘blights lives’. The RAC is also supporting a change in legislation.

Geographic Differences

Parking on pavements has been against the law in London for more than 40 years, however the situation is less clear elsewhere. A survey by Guide Dogs earlier this month found that 72 per cent of pedestrians using buggies or prams find it harder to walk along pavements as a result of parked vehicles.

James White, from the charity said:

“Imagine how scary it is for people without sight to have to walk in the middle of the road because the pavement is blocked?

“We hope this year sees this dangerous practice outlawed once and for all.”

Jenny Wiles, regional manager for pedestrian campaign group Living Streets, said:

“Pavements are not car parks. Pavement parking is a nuisance for everyone, but if you’re older, have mobility problems or impaired sight, it can force you into the road and into danger.”

Police Action

Local authorities in Greater Manchester can currently only take action by issuing fixed penalty notices if there are traffic regulations, for example, yellow lines on the road. Greater Manchester Police only get involved if the vehicle is judged to be causing an obstruction or is parked dangerously.

Inspector Phil Bromley, of GMP’s Traffic Network Section, said:

“Anything that enhances road safety by freeing up pavements for pedestrians is to be welcomed, as vehicles on pavements can obstruct vulnerable people who use the verge or footway.

“If this Bill is enacted, then pavement parking would be dealt with by civil enforcement, and the current parking enforcement authorities would take on this responsibility.”

MPs in Greater Manchester are split on the need for new legislation, which will be debated in the House of Commons again next month. Barbara Keeley MP for Worsley and Eccles South, backs the Bill claiming the current laws are ‘confusing for motorists and dangerous for pedestrians’. However David Nuttall, MP for Bury North, rejects the need for additional powers and said motorists sometimes have ‘no choice’ than to park on pavements. The Bill is proposed by Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood who commented:

“Cars parked on the pavement are particularly hazardous for blind and partially-sighted people, older people or if you’re pushing a buggy or a wheelchair.

“This bill is well supported and a small step towards improving the quality of life for a lot of people.”

MPs Ann Coffey and Andrew Stunell say the problem has been created by multi-car households. Ann Coffey said:

“In Stockport there are a lot of terraced house and little off street parking, and because of changes in the way people travel you often get two and even three cars per household. We have an unavoidable clash between the past and the present.

“The issue is not just about pedestrians being forced into the road, but cars blocking views of the road and damage to pavement sills.

“While it is an admirable attempt to change the law, I don’t see the need for a national ban. Our focus should be changing behaviours by identifying the culprits and talking to them about it. People simply need to be more considerate of each other.”

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