Thousands of drivers could be left without a parking space if a blanket ban on pavement parking is introduced.
The warning from IAM RoadSmart follows a recent House of Commons Transport Committee enquiry into pavement parking, which has seen some parties call for a blanket ban on all vehicles parking on any part of a pavement.
Already banned in London and currently in the process of being outlawed in Scotland, pavement parking is still generally allowed in England where, according to the Transport Committee, it creates real problems, including for those with visual difficulties and who use mobility aids as well as those who need to navigate footpaths with children.
Although police and local authorities can use a range of criminal and civil sanctions to enforce restrictions on pavement parking on private or commercial drivers, but the Local Government Association (LGA) has previously said it’s a time-consuming, expensive and bureaucratic process for councils.
The submissions to the Transport Committee enquiry are now available for public viewing, and include calls, in particular from local authorities but also from private individuals, for the practice to be banned.
However, in its submission to the committee, IAM RoadSmart said that where data has been collated, the problems appear to be localised.
“Where pedestrians are being put in danger or denied access by inconsiderate pavement parking, or if costly long-term damage is being done, then we have no problem with local solutions being implemented for local problems.
“Local councils should be encouraged to use their existing powers to sign, define, review and enforce local bans as required,” the charity added.
IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research Neil Greig warned that a blanket ban would bring issues for local councils in terms of funding and road capacity to provide the extra spaces people need to park as well as resources to implement a blanket ban.
“New traffic orders, new signposting, new road markings and new enforcement administration will all be required at extra cost if a blanket ban is introduced. Councils are already struggling to implement low emission zones, cycling and walking policies, active travel policies, 20mph zones and a host for other transport measures against a background of budget cuts and dwindling resources.”
IAM RoadSmart added that a blanket ban risked creating conflict between residents as they attempt to find a place to park, often in areas where there has never been a road safety problem.
In addition, while many would like to see stricter penalties for pavement parking, IAM RoadSmart said enforcement must always be seen to be fair and well targeted. Penalties should only be used to encourage behaviour change and the take-up of alternatives if they can be provided.
“If enforcement is going to be applied rigorously then councils should be forced to provide safe and secure alternative parking arrangements in those areas where pavement parking has been banned but worked perfectly well before.
“If a blanket ban is to go ahead, despite our and other organisations’ recommendations, the income from fines should be ringfenced to improve parking facilities in the worst affected areas.”
In response, the charity has called for much more research and pilot schemes before a decision is made to ban all pavement parking, including covering those urban areas where pavement parking is actively encouraged and the road marked up to allow it.