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Why the Living Streets / Guide Dogs pavement parking campaign is inept and dangerous

The charities Living Streets and Guide Dogs have a campaign "to ban pavement parking", but this is an inept and dangerous campaign because
  • pavement parking is already illegal
  • implying that pavement parking is currently legal increases the risks to pedestrians.


The Living Streets / Guide Dogs campaign

The two charities Living Streets and Guide Dogs have been running a campaign for several years "to ban pavement parking". The implication is that pavement parking is currently legal. They have sections on their websites and have recently handed in a petition to 10 Downing St.
There are two major problems with their campaign:
  • pavement parking is already illegal - see the summary of the law at https://wacm.org.uk/96.html
  • the implication that pavement parking is currently legal increases the risks to pedestrians.

Pavement parking is already illegal

It is an offence to drive on to a pavement and it is an offence to obstruct other road users including pedestrians. These offences make pavement parking illegal.
There is nothing secret or archaic about these offences, for example, they are included in a summary of the law on the Merseyside Police website: https://www.merseyside.police.uk/advice-and-protection/policing-the-roads/pavement-parking/, and many police forces are issuing tickets for parking on pavements, for example Cheshire, Hertfordshire, Manchester, Merseyside and West Midlands police - see https://www.wacm.org.uk/101.html

It is bizarre that police forces have education and enforcement campaigns, but Living Streets and Guide Dogs never include information about these on their websites, or in their campaign emails, or in their press releases or in their Tweets - and this has continued even after requests from grass roots campaigning groups. It looks as if there is deliberate misinformation.

Implying that pavement parking is currently legal increases the risks to pedestrians

  • The repeated high-profile calls "to ban pavement parking" imply that pavement parking is currently legal. This publicity is likely to worsen pavement parking since the worst drivers will see no reason to hold back from parking on pavements even more than they are doing already
  • The failure to publicise the education and enforcement actions that are being carried out by police forces denies the currently available legal remedies to people who are suffering and whose lives are in danger. They should be told that they can complain to the police, and expect action - not that nothing can be done without a change in the law.

What alternative campaign is needed

Instead of the Living Streets / Guide Dogs campaign pedestrians need
  • a national campaign that "Pavement parking is illegal, antisocial and dangerous"
  • proper funding for the police to enforce the current bans on driving on pavements and on obstructing pedestrians
  • a return to the 2004 Highway Code wording of "DO NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement unless signs permit it" to end the confusion caused by the current (2007) version - see https://wacm.org.uk/104.html

A change in the law so that local authorities can also enforce the current ban on pavement parking would be helpful (this would be the same as the law in London) - but the main priority is to emphasise that pavement parking is currently illegal.

What alternative campaigning groups are needed

Pedestrians need a strong independent voice to stand up to local and national governments and police forces when necessary.

From 1929, there was a national independent Pedestrians Association, but this was converted into the charity Living Streets in 2001 - and this now receives most of its funding from the Department for Transport and other branches of national and local government, and so it has a conflict of interest.

Living Streets has let down pedestrians badly with its poor campaigning.

It is time for people who care about pedestrian safety to link up in a powerful independent grassroots movement that will really stand up for pedestrians.





Last updated: 4 Nov 2018