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Government urged to act on pavement parking

Cycling and walking organisations write public letter to transport secretary

Mark Moran
26 November 2021
Research commissioned by Living Streets, found that 87% of parents with children aged 4 to 11 have had to step into the road because of vehicles parked on the pavement
Research commissioned by Living Streets, found that 87% of parents with children aged 4 to 11 have had to step into the road because of vehicles parked on the pavement

Living Streets calls on the government to issue its response to the Pavement Parking in England consultation, which closed over a year ago.

In an open letter to Grant Shapps MP, the charity says the government “has an opportunity now to achieve progress on this longstanding problem – doing nothing is not an option”.

The letter is supported by the Walking and Cycling Alliance (WACA) comprising Bicycle Association, British Cycling, Cycling UK, Ramblers and Sustrans. Other signatories include Dame Sarah Storey, Guide Dogs and Transport for All.  

New research by YouGov, commissioned by Living Streets, found that 87% of parents with children aged 4 to 11 have had to step into the road because of vehicles parked on the pavement. The survey also revealed that 80% of parents surveyed agreed they would feel safer to let their child walk to school if vehicles were not parked on the pavement. The latest National Travel Survey data shows that just 47% of children in England currently walk to school.

Living Streets is calling for clearer laws on pavement parking, which currently vary by region. The charity wants clearer laws that prohibit pavement parking, with appropriate exemptions, as is currently available in London.  

Stephen Edwards, interim chief executive officer of Living Streets, said: “Vehicles parked on the pavement are forcing a huge majority of people into the road, leaving them in the path of oncoming traffic and in danger. Action is long overdue.

“As well as causing an obstruction for disabled people, families with young children and those with visual or mobility impairments, our research shows that pavement parking is also preventing people from making healthier and cleaner travel choices. If we can tackle pavement parking, more families will be able to enjoy the health and social benefits of walking to school.”

Dame Sarah Storey, active travel commissioner for the South Yorkshire Combined Authority said: “Although most people who park on footways or cycle tracks think that it will do little harm, it places everyone not using another vehicle in danger and disproportionately affects those who use a mobility aid or have a visual impairment. Some disabled and older people are now unable to go out for exercise as it is so difficult to navigate blocked footways & more children are driven to school and activities by parents who feel unable to take them safely on foot. The average person has their car parked for over 90% of the time, and in some local neighbourhoods parking disrupts emergency access and prevents walking or cycling.”

The letter

Dear Secretary of State
We were pleased to support the government’s consultation in November 2020 on managing pavement parking. The problem of pavement parking is a longstanding issue and action is now long overdue.
We now have an opportunity to make progress on this problem - doing nothing is not an option. A year on from the close of the consultation, we urge you to move forward with introduction of legislation to introduce a London-style pavement parking prohibition throughout England, as in Scotland. Only a default prohibition, with appropriate exemptions, like in London, will send the signal that pavement parking is unacceptable.
Vehicles parking on the pavement causing an obstruction and damaging footway surfaces is an urgent problem and discriminates against pedestrians, especially for those with young children, older people and those with visual or mobility impairments, and is an issue that has attracted attention for over forty years. It will be more difficult for the Government to meet its own targets of half of all journeys walked and cycled by 2030 when pavement parking makes walking so hard for so many.
Every day, parents and children are putting themselves at risk because of pavement parking. New polling commissioned by Living Streets indicates that 87% of parents have had to walk into the road because of pavement parking and that 80% would be more likely to walk their child to school if there wasn’t pavement parking.
Scotland has led the way with the introduction of legislation in 2019 for a nationwide prohibition on pavement parking, and the Welsh Government also plans toregulate pavement parking, through unnecessary obstruction.
Change in England is long overdue, and your department has moved forward positively by consulting on this issue. We urge you now to join with other nations of the UK in making our pavements safer and fit for purpose for all road users.

Yours sincerely
Stephen Edwards, interim chief executive, Living Streets
Steve Garidis, executive officer, Bicycle Association
Brian Facer, chief executive, British Cycling
Sarah Mitchell, chief executive, Cycling UK
Xavier Brice, chief executive, Sustrans
Tompion Platt, director of operations and advocacy, Ramblers
Dame Sarah Storey, active travel commissioner, South Yorkshire MCA
Simon O'Brien, Liverpool City Region cycling & walkingcommissioner
Andrew Pester, chief executive, British Parking Association
Tom Wright CBE, chief executive, Guide Dogs
Cllr James Jamieson, chairman, Local Government Association
Katie Pennick, campaigns lead, Transport for All
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