Why isn’t pavement parking illegal?

Pavement parking causing obstructions

Pavement parking causes obstructions for pedestrians.

In today’s congested urban environments parking can be a pain. You need only see the parking wardens marching through local communities to notice that space is at a premium.

In order to solve the problem, many motorists park on pavements. However, this is not a great solution for pedestrians trying to get about.

Pavement parking causes serious access barriers, especially for people with mobility restrictions and visual impairments. Wheelchair and mobility scooter users, families with prams and cyclists are also badly affected. By obscuring dropped kerbs and raised crossings and by damaging walkways, parked cars create serious obstacles for pedestrians and often force them onto roads with traffic.

Watch this video of a wheelchair user attempting to negotiate a pavement with a parked van:


Currently, driving on the pavement is illegal in Scotland, but it is not against the law to park on pavements. 

Joe Fitzpatrick MSP plans to address this issue by bringing forward a member’s bill on the regulation of parking. He wants to see pavement parking outlawed so that pedestrians can use public walkways unimpeded. We support this proposal and believe that pedestrians should be free from obstructions and barriers when they are trying to get from A to B.

As part of the consultation, we are asking older people about their experiences with pavement parking. Do you have any negative experiences? We’re particularly interested in your first hand accounts of trying to negotiate obstructed pavements and any images or videos you may have taken to illustrate your problems.

If you want to get involved, you can take part in the consultation by clicking on this link, or you can email our Senior Policy and Parliamentary Officer, Callum, on callum.chomczuk@agescotland.org.uk with any personal experiences, images or videos you may have taken by 30th June 2012.

You are also very welcome to voice your thoughts in the blog’s comment box below – our policy team will take your views forward on the proposed bill.

If you need any more information there is an online FAQ regarding the proposed bill, or you can leave us your questions in the comments box and we will do our best to answer them.

Update – 02/07/2012

Please note that the deadline has passed for submission of comments for Age Scotland’s consultation response to the bill.

The topic has been very popular, so if you are still interested in leaving comments you are more than welcome to do so. Please just be aware that we will not be able to take them forward in an official capacity. Thank you!

47 thoughts on “Why isn’t pavement parking illegal?

  1. Pavement parking of cars, is inconsiderate and thoughtless, making it well nigh impossible for the safety of wheelchair users, mother with babies in wheelchairs both of whom have to regularly go onto busy roads with all the dangers involved just to go shopping, to say nothing of the visually impaired or elderly less fit people having to walk in a busy road. Pavements are also not built to take the weight of cars and are frequently full of holes and puddles caused by this wrong use, to say nothing of the cost to the local tax payer for repairs. I am a car driver and would never behave in this thoughtless way, may I suggest if you cant afford a place to park your car, perhaps you cant afford a car. !!! Please stop blaming eveyone else for societies problems, they are ours, and need to be addressed. PLEASE MAKE THIS PAVEMENT PARKING OF CARS ILLEGAL NOW!!!, thus allowing all of our citizens the right to enjoy our cities not just car drivers!!!

    • Hi there, many thanks for leaving your comment on pavement parking. We’ll take forward your concerns to our policy team. You’ve highlighted many relevant issues, and it’s also really interesting to hear that you are a motorist and would never dream of parking on a pavement. If only more people were as considerate! Thanks again.

  2. Please make pavement parking illegal, it has become the new culture just to glide onto the pavement via a lowered kerb for a drive way to mount the pavement and take it over, often leaving under just six inches of space on the pavement. For no apparent reason – seems to be the done thing these days.. Although it affects many people and puts them in danger when they take action to get by the obstacle I would like to talk about Wheelchair users. Wheelchair users are one of the worst affected as if they cannot pass they have to double back to find the nearest lowered kerb and cross the road to try on the other side of the road. This is very often blocked as well. They simply cannot go about their business and cannot get about because of this practice. Wheelchair users or wheelchair users cannot just drop down onto the road from a kerb to pass a vehicle blocking their way on the pavement and mount a kerb to get back up again when the pass the obstacle. (Saying that why should they anyway even if they could get up and down kerbs).. Someone please do something about this by passing a law. I actually believe that many motorists are not really aware of how badly their actions affect others. We need a national campaign on it to make people think and try to change the culture.

    • Hi Sophie, many thanks for your comment. I’ve passed your views onto our policy team and they will feed your views into our formal consultation response. We hope that the bill will be passed to make pavement parking illegal in Scotland, and will update our supporters and followers once there is any news. Thanks again.

  3. I wrote to my counciller on many occassions over this matter as area where i lived was really bad for people parking on the pavement making it difficult or impossable for the elderly , people with disability or most people in general to have safe walking access
    even though the police got involved their is no law at present to stop this within the current traffic regulations and till something is done to change the law peoples hands are tied

    • Many thanks for your comment Stewart, we hope that the bill will be passed to make pavement parking illegal in Scotland. We’ll take your views forward and they will help to inform our formal response to the consultation. There’s no doubt that pavement parking is detrimental and causes obstructions and barriers for pedestrians, especially the groups you mentioned in your comment. Thanks again.

      • That is an idea above but councils would still have to ensure there was a logical way for a wheelchair to cross to it via a drop down kerb to the side of the road that is supposed to be free for them to use. Sadly because some motorists don’t bother leaving adequate space on the pavement for the disabled, wheelchairs, pushchairs etc this law has had to be drafted. At the end of the day the pavements are for people and the roads are for cars. Some people will not walk the length of theselves and do things like park on the brow of a hill taking up most of the pavement thus blocking it to some pavement users. These people have a choice they they could park further down and walk for a few moments up to the place they are visiting, or even live.
        Today again on the busy main road (also a bus route) – I saw two white vans parked with about barely a foot of pavement left on the brow of a hill on our main road. The road is not narrow so there was no need to do this. How is someone in an electric wheelchair or carer pushing wheelchair supposed to pass or a person pushing a buggy is forced onto oncoming traffic on the brow of a hill. It’s immoral that they park there like this meaning the disabled, buggy owners with babies are forced into highly dangerous situations because of their actions. And as I have said before a wheelchair user cannot just drop off the pavement anyway to get on the road unless it is lowered. Think I will leave the topic for now and I do hope something can be done so that people can go about their business the way they could do in the past.

      • Hi Sophie, like you say, the pavements are for people and not cars. The bill is also calling for parking at dropped kerbs to become illegal – this is another big move forward to try and ensure that public pedestrian access is not obstructed by vehicles. We’ll post an update on the blog once the consultation closes and keep everyone up to date on what happens with the bill.

  4. Hello
    Firstly let me say that I agree in principle with the policy of not allowing cars to park on pavements and yes the law should change so the pedestrian (able or not) is accommodated. However in certain circumstances where pedestrian flow is practically nil and the road / pavement access is narrow and primarily cul de sac vehicle traffic – what justification is there to have 2 pavements?
    I lost my wife last week to a vicious cancer onslaught which saw Marie Curie and District Nurses arrive at our home at all hours. My next door neighbour is a 94 year old lady under 24hr carer attention. If these nurses and carers don’t put up their cars on the pavement the rest of the cul de sac is disadvantaged.
    Tonight I had just got home from late shift, was standing at my front window when a man walking a dog passed and gesticulated his disgust that my car was blocking his way. He does not live in our close knit little cul de sac, I don’t recognise him and I just thought wait a bit, residents of their own streets need a say too.
    The councils need to assess the viability of this issue and apply common sense. Remove one pavement in favour of free access on one side and parking on the other, where applicable, might help.

    • Hi Alex, many thanks for your comment. You’ve raised some excellent points and they will need to be considered in the consultation and forthcoming bill. Like you say, not all areas are heavy with footfall and traffic and sometimes access can be an issue, so perhaps a one size fits all approach is not always applicable.

      I’ve passed your perspective on to our policy team and they will feed your thoughts into our consultation response. Thanks again for taking the time to post your comment.

    • There is no excuse for parking on a pavement. It is selfish, anti-social and it is a way of saying to everyone else, “sod you, I’m more important”. Just because someone doesn’t live in a road is no bar to them being able to walk down that road. If parking legally on the road obstructs the road to other vehicles then there should be no parking allowed in that road.

      • I was going to ignore your comments but in retrospect I think Mr Graham Martin-Royle that you have missed my point entirely. Your use of emotive and potentially offensive language adds nothing constructive whatsoever. I do however agree totally with your penultimate sentence. Why then would an obviously fit person choose to walk with their dog on the obstructed pavement rather than the opposite side (a matter of 5 or 6 paces) which we as residents in this cul de sac, out of unselfish behaviour to neighbours, keep clear? I think you know the answer to that. Given the demographics of pedestrian to car ownership 30 years ago, logically the case for two pavements made sense. Nowadays the ratio is reversed and as a society we should recognise this. It involves a mindset change in planning and In case you missed it by the way this is what I wanted to bring to the attention of the forum which input they have acknowledged.

      • Alex,
        Firstly, my sympathies with your personal position and that of other people in our street.

        However, I disagree with your analysis that just because more people in your area choose to buy cars and store them on public property without paying a fee that the the best response is to convert more of that public property into free car parking.

        Consider how how you would respond if people started putting up sheds in the street arguing that they ‘had to’ put them up there because their garden was too small or building extensions to their houses out over the street because they ‘had to because they were expecting a further child. Personally I see no reason for cars to be given special treatment.

        The problem for the nurses visiting your area is not that there are not enough spaces to park a vehicle for a short time on the highway, but that all the spaces have already been taken up by people parking them there for the long term without charge. Personally I would like to see people being required to purchase permits at significant cost to regularly store a vehicle on the street. VED, which is less than 30p was never intended to give people that right and is just not enough to discourage people from abusing public space.

      • @Alex Dempster; You may find my language “emotive and potentially offensive”, I find your behaviour of deliberately parking on a pavement to BE offensive. It is not unselfish behaviour to park on a pavement, it is selfish, it is inconsiderate, it is anti-social. You are thinking solely of your own benefit, you are not taking into account any thought of the needs or wants of pedestrians, you are thinking only of motorists and your own selfish need to park where you want.

        You are quite correct in that a change in mindset is required. The change is to get motorists out of the knee jerk automatic response to any parking problem to think that the pavement is the solution. Pavements are there for pedestrians, they are not provided so that any motorist has off road parking.

  5. As a pedestrian I have to negotiate Brunstane Road to reach Milton Road East and more often than not have to negotiate cars parked on the pavement only leaving a narrow space for me which is made even worse by badly placed wheelie bins and overgrown foliage from resident’s gardens. This legislation would be fine except the residents there would then park their cars in such a way as to restrict free passage of road users and emergency vehicles with a view to lending more weight to attempt to get the road closed or make it one-way. Just to remind you all that ROADS were built for the passage to and from of vehicles and not as a STORAGE FACILITY.

    • Hi there, thanks for your comment on the issue of pavement parking. I’ve passed this on to the policy team at the charity. Your views will help to inform our consultation response.

      The consultation closes on 30th June. A Parliamentary Committee will then take the bill’s proposals in hand, evaluate the consultation responses and decide whether to address the issues identified. We will keep readers updated on the progress.

  6. Pingback: Age Scotland « Pedestrian Liberation

  7. Some of the comments on here are ridiculous.

    @ Graham Martin-Royale; I stay in Shawlands, southside, a built up busy area with narrow roads. I’d love to park fully on the road, but am I going to? No, because if I did, the police would be called and my car removed as nobody would be able to get by me! That goes for all the streets in Shawlands. So great idea, but what do you suggest we do in an area like Shawlands?? People need to think before they jump on the bandwagon.

    • Many thanks for your comment. We will feed your views into our consultation response along with other individuals’ and groups’ perspectives. We will keep our readers updated with the developments of the bill so do keep an eye on the blog if you are interested in the matter. Thanks again.

    • First off, it’s Graham Martin-Royle. Secondly, if the streets are too narrow for you to park fully on the road, then you shouldn’t park in that road at all. Try parking in another area, not on the pavement.

      • Mr. Royle, can you please make more of an effort to keep exchanges between posters on a more placid level. Thanks in anticipation.

      • Ian Hope.
        on June 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm said:
        Mr. Royle, can you please make more of an effort to keep exchanges between posters on a more placid level. Thanks in anticipation.

        It’s Mr Martin-Royle, thanks, and it what way have I not been placid? All I’ve done is point out that if a road is too narrow to park in, then maybe people shouldn’t park in it. The width of a road is no reason to park on a pavement. John McGuire stated that he could not park on the road because the police would remove his vehicle if he did so. That is not a reason to park on the pavement, it is a reason to park elsewhere. Drivers that do not do so are selfish, showing contempt for the rights of others to walk along a pavement.

      • Hi Graham I don’t find your remark has an angry tone you are merely making a valid statement which I also agree with. The rest of this email is directed to anyone who wishes to read it. If I am passing with my relative who is in a wheelchair and I cannot get past because of a vehicle I am forced to put myself in danger by bringing the wheelchair down backwards as it cannot go forwards down a non lowered kerb into the road. Then I have to turn him in the middle of the road with oncoming traffic coming down. We have cars parked up on the pavement on main roads here and there is no need for it, as I have said before it is the done thing, the new culture. The said vehicle in question needs to park elsewhere ot at least if mounting the pavement, to leave a good bit of room for wheelchairs, buggies etc to get past. Remember car drivers you or your relatives might have a bad stroke one day and you will soon find out what it is like trying to get about from the perspective of the disabled. Life is hard enough as it is caring for someone with a profound disability as it is without adding to it. I am also a driver and when out on my own I always consider pavement users – I can see it from both sides.

  8. Yes, we know all the clear arguments Mr. Royle, it’s just been suggested to you that you need to calm down a little with the rhetoric.

    • Again, it’s Mr Martin-Royle. I don’t insult you by referring to you as Mr pe, so please get my name correct.

      I am perfectly calm, thank you. If you don’t agree with my argument, then please give your reasons why. Tone trolling is not an argument.

      • I find your points very valid. Just thought they might come across even better with some anger management in place.

      • Ian Hope.
        on June 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm said:
        I find your points very valid. Just thought they might come across even better with some anger management in place.

        Why you should think I need anger management is beyond me. I’m not angry at all, just putting forward my point of view. As stated before, tone trolling is not an argument, even if you do find my points valid.

  9. I am glad your back and I wait hopefully for something to be done about this practice which puts the most vulnerable in society in danger. Let’s go back a few years when people would have thought it was mad to park on a footway. We need to get real here, motor vehicles are supposed to be parked on roads and not on pavements where people walk to avoid danger from vehicles. Disabled people in wheelchairs and people with sight issues, children in buggies are put in real danger because of this.

  10. Can anyone answer this question I wonder ?
    If the bill becomes law and pavement parking becomes illegal and subject to penalty, who will enforce it
    and will it be RIGIDLY enforced ?
    Will it perhaps become another of these laws that are only enforced in extreme circumstances ?
    I.e., only where the offender has caused a blatant obstruction ?
    (No guesses please)

  11. Hi Ian,
    Either local authority traffic wardens or the police depending on the local authority. Traffic wardens are a common sight across most local authorities and they would be well placed to have this responsibility added to their existing duties

    However as with any piece of legislation an education and awareness strategy is necessary to inform and educate the public about the duties placed under the Bill.

    • It seems that we may have to look forward to a protracted period of “leniency” and “turning a blind eye”. So much so that I suspect that many of the current victims of pavement- parkers might not live long enough to benefit from this proposed legislation.

      Thanks though, for your reply. By your reference to “traffic wardens”, do you mean police traffic wardens whose current concern is with traffic duties (i.e. the efficiency of traffic flow) or the “parking attendants” whose existence is purely tied to the profit motive ?

      Referring to the “blue meanies” as “traffic wardens” is a common misconception. There is a clear distinction between the two.

  12. Today Guide Dogs launched their Streets Ahead Survey to gather information on obstacles and barriers to mobility on residential roads and high streets.

    If you have problems with with pavement parking, wheelie bins, overhanging branches, etc, please take a minute to fill in this survey ..http://svy.mk/14Kv8o1.

  13. Having read this I thought it was extremely informative.
    I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article together.

    I once again find myself spending a lot of
    time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

  14. in my area fife council are allowing tenants to permanently park their wheelie bins on a narrow pavement therebye reducing the legal width for pedestrian access of 1 metre by half.
    no one should be allowed to use the public footpath as a permanent storage place for their wheelie bins , ten bins are at present being allowed by fife council to be stored permanently in this way.

    mr ian lamond
    69 fodbank view
    ky11 4ua

  15. Hi Andrew,
    It’s even more galling when you consider that we pay the salaries of these people, not to mention the cost of their vehicles.
    We have an on-going problem in this area with pavement parkers forcing people with pushchairs etc. out on to a busy road. It was pleasing to see the other day that two cars had foolscap STICKY NOTICES slapped on their windscreen presumably by a disgruntled pedestrian. They are difficult to remove, it’s quite hard work. Useful deterrent though.

  16. I welcome the change in the law to stop people parking on the pavement I live in Uddingston Glasgow the street is live in has a nursing home at the end of the street the parking on the pavement is terrible one resident continues to park their car on the pavement outside my gate restricting my husband and I from getting in and out of our house to our own car which is legally parked on the road in our designated disabled bay the woman even had the cheek to come to my door one Saturday and complain my nephew had no right parking on the road outside our house as she preferes to park her car across the road and a block down former where she lives she has no thought to the old people I the home at the end who’s families visit at the weekend and like to take their relatives out a walk in the summer neither does she think about the young mothers with babies who live in the street having to go on to the road with prams and toddlers walking to get round dial her car i can’t imagine what these people think when parking or do not think maybe the case so come on Scotland help stop this stupid parking and think about the elderly and disabled and the children of Scotland and keep safe from these morons

  17. I’ve just watched a large white transit van reversing up and then completely blocking a pavement close to an extremely busy junction in Queensferry Road here in Edinburgh. This action forced a family with two young children on bicycles to have to walk off the pavement and onto the busy traffic-filled road so they could pass the obstruction on the road-side of a metal railing at the edge of the pavement before rejoining the pavement where the railings ended. I was absolutely horrified and took a note of the registration plate of the offending a van in the belief that such stupid, selfish and irresponsible behaviour would surely be illegal. I’m truly shocked to find that it isn’t. The sooner a law to ban such dangerous and stupid actions comes into force the better.

  18. I am having the same problem here in Rosyth,Fife I had a talk with a woman whom parked on the pavement over from me when I asked her why don’t you park on the road and cross over ample parking spaces I was called a stupid woman……I told her so ok for me who has to walk using two waking sticks to risk my life going onto the road to pass you because you are too lazy to walk be grateful you have the use of your legs I have reported it to the council also my community police officer yet she still does it nothing seems to be done.I’ve even watched vans coming on to the lowered pavement and drive along the pavement and blocking it also.Why do we less able have to suffer these fools because they are too lazy to walk a few yards Please please please do something soon………1 more thing the refuse men just as bad the bins I have to move so I can have safe passage is a nightmare also

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