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Edinburgh to be first Scottish city to ban pavement parking

City council officers are assessing over of 5,000 roads ahead of launch of enforcement

13 November 2023
Cars and vans can cause particular challenges for disabled people and parents with pushchairs (Living Streets image of pavement parking in Cowgate, Edinburgh)


Edinburgh will become first city in Scotland to completely ban cars from parking on the pavement. Double parking and parking at dropped kerbs will also be banned, although there will be an exemption for delivery drivers.

Preparations are currently underway to begin enforcement against pavement parking in Edinburgh, following the introduction of new powers by the Scottish Government.

A report to Transport and Environment Committee sets out a proposed approach and timescales for enforcing against pavement parking as part of new parking prohibitions being introduced.

National regulations are expected to come into force in December and it is proposed that Edinburgh’s enforcement begins in January 2024. Drivers who mount the kerb face a £100 fine.

Parking on pavements, at dropped kerbs and double parking can inconvenience all road users, significantly impacting people with mobility issues, parents with pushchairs and older people.

Cllr Scott Arthur, Edinburgh’s transport and environment convener, said: “Implementing these new parking restrictions is part of our commitment to ensure Edinburgh’s roads and pavements are accessible for all.

“Making sure our footways are kept clear will deliver real benefits for pedestrians and road users, particularly those who are disproportionately affected such as parents with pushchairs, older people and wheelchair users. We would expect everyone to adhere to the new prohibitions when the final regulations come into force to guarantee our streets are safer and more user-friendly.”

City of Edinburgh Council has long supported a ban on pavement parking and has collaborated closely with Living Streets and Guide Dogs Scotland to lobby for the introduction of controls in Scotland. The council and charities argue the ban will help ensure Edinburgh’s roads and footways are accessible for all, which is a key element of the vision of an equal, accessible and sustainable city as part of the City Mobility Plan.

Stuart Hay, director, Living Streets Scotland, said: “Edinburgh is taking the right approach to the enforcement of pavement parking, recognising that footways are for people, not parking spaces for cars.

“Exemptions should only be applied in exceptional cases based on evidence, which can only be collected via careful monitoring and consultation. This is the best way to ensure those most affected by blocked pavements, including disabled people, have safe access to our streets.”

Niall Foley, lead external affairs manager at Guide Dogs Scotland, added: “Parking on pavements is a nuisance for everyone, but potentially dangerous if you are a wheelchair user forced onto the road, pushing a buggy, or have sight loss and can’t see traffic coming towards you.

“When cars block the way, it undermines the confidence of people with a vision impairment to get out and about independently.

“We welcome the parking measures being introduced and look forward to working with Edinburgh Council to ensure the pavement parking prohibitions are a success.”

Preparations include the assessment of 5,217 roads by officers as part of the footway parking assessment project. This has helped to identify a small number of streets where significant pavement parking may require mitigation measures to minimise potential negative impacts on the wider road network.

Despite the prohibitions featuring in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019, the necessary regulations required to support the enforcement and appeals procedures have only recently been finalised by Transport Scotland and are expected to come into effect on 11 December. Work to complete the necessary changes in Edinburgh will commence as soon as it is confirmed that the new regulations have come into force. 

An awareness campaign, currently being designed by Transport Scotland, is hoped to drive a change in behaviour over the festive period in advance of enforcement beginning. A further council-run campaign aligned with the national approach is intended once the new prohibitions take effect.

The law regarding parking on pavements varies across the UK. It is illegal to park on in London, unless there is a signed dispensation. There is no blanket prohibition in the rest of the UK, but the police can take action if a driver is causing an obstruction.

Other Scottish local authorities are looking at implementing the ban. In South Lanarkshire, councillors have shown support for the ban but not yet committed to implementing restrictions.

Scottish Borders Council has held a consultation to identify areas where pavement parking currently happens. It said it would be used to implement restrictions on a “case-by-case basis” on where to implement the ban.

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