Pavement Parking: Questions and Answers

Is it legal or illegal to park a motor vehicle on a pavement?
  • Generally illegal

What are the exceptions?
  • where signs permit it - local councils can permit parking on the pavement on specified roads via signs on posts and white lines on the pavement - see panel
  • in an emergency
  • if the vehicle (e.g. a motorbike) is pushed on to the pavement rather than driven on, provided that it does not obstruct pedestrians.

What are the laws that prohibit parking on pavements?
  • It is an offence to drive on to a pavement, contrary to s.72 of the Highway Act 1835 and s.34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988).
  • It is an offence to leave a vehicle on a road (including the pavement) in a dangerous position, contrary to s.22 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
  • It is an offence to obstruct a pavement, contrary to Regulation 103 of The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.
  • Rule 145 of the Highway Code states You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency.

Who enforces the law?
  • It is the responsibility of the police to enforce the laws prohibiting driving on the pavement and obstruction of the pavement.
  • Local councils also have the option of taking on the enforcement on particular roads (there will be signs) via traffic wardens.
The law is currently poorly enforced and this is causing problems for many people.

Where might parking on pavements be permitted?
In a minority of roads, such as those with terraced housing, there is limited off-road parking. Such roads can be considered for legalised and regulated parking on pavements. The areas where parking on pavements is permitted are indicated by signs and by white lines on the pavements.

Why does it matter that drivers are parking on pavements?
Vulnerable pedestrians such as children, those using a wheelchair or those with visual impairments find cars parked on pavements intimidating, especially if they are forced to walk in the carriageway. Some find it so difficult or upsetting that they no longer venture out from their homes. Pavements are not constructed to carry the weight of vehicles, and many pavements are becoming seriously damaged, which is causing falls for elderly people.

This DfT sign permits and regulates pavement parking:

The sign in use:

The finer points

What is special about London?

As well as the general legislation, there is an extra law that being parked on a pavement is illegal, whether or not the vehicle was driven on to the pavement and whether or not it is causing an obstruction. This is enforceable by councils and means that pavement parking is easier to prevent in London.