Memorandum submitted by Living Streets
1. Living Streets is pleased to submit its
comments to the above inquiry. Living Streets is a national charity,
established in 1929, which campaigns for better streets and public
spaces for people on foot. We work to persuade both national and
local governments to improve policy and practice for pedestrians,
including through our network of local branches; we are joint
organisers of the National Walk to School Campaign; and we undertake
"Community Street Audits", which evaluate the quality
of public space from the viewpoints of those on foot.
2. We believe that streets are more than
simply traffic corridorsthey are important for the vibrancy,
economic health, and safety of neighbourhoods; they can help to
improve community cohesion by bringing people of different ages
and backgrounds together in a shared space; they are outdoor "gyms"
which people can use to get fit through walking and cycling; and
they are potential playgrounds for all children but especially
those who do not live close to parks and playing fields. However,
with some 25 million cars on our streets (24 million of them parked
at any one time), many streets have become little more than car
parks. Living Streets believes that the different uses of our
streets need to be better balancedand parking policy is
an essential tool in developing this.
3. The larger policy direction, which requires
joining up transport, planning, health, economic development and
community strategy, should be to reduce the number and length
of car journeys, to make streets and public space more attractive
for walking, cycling and using public transport, to reduce deaths
and injuries on the road, and to find a balance between the different
uses streets have. Parking policy has a role to play as part of
this, and Living Streets believes that more can be done to win
public confidence in parking policies by working with local people
to implement a parking strategy as part of wider measures to improve
their neighbourhoods, including the ODPM's cleaner, safer, greener
4. Research shows that people associate
the appearance of their neighbourhoods, and the management of
their roads in terms of traffic, cleanliness and anti-social behaviour,
as key to their quality of life.
CABE has suggested that while people want to park their cars directly
outside their homes, they are willing to make compromises when
other benefits such as safe playing areas for children, and the
provision of shops, services and public transport links in walking
distance, are offered.
5. Likewise, people have voted with their
feet by surging into shopping centres like Norwich and Nottingham
where parking has been removed from key shopping streets and the
walking environment has been improved. Once parking is placed
in this positive context of improving quality of life, the public
can make informed choices with their various "hats"
onas drivers and as pedestrians, residents, parents etc.
6. Parking restrictions are not newthey
began about 80 years agoaround the same time that mass
car ownership began to grow. As the number of vehicles has grown,
so have the number of parking restrictions. In broad terms, Living
Streets strongly favours the strict enforcement of parking restrictions,
by local authorities, for the following four reasons:
1st. Accessibility for pedestrians
7. A major hazard for pedestrians is the
parking of cars on pavements. Through our audit work, we come
across many examples where pedestrians have to squeeze past vehicles,
or must dangerously make a detour into the carriageway because
there isn't enough room to pass. This is a particular problem
for those in wheelchairs, pushing buggies, or with young childrenbut
it is a problem for a far wider group of pedestrians, for example,
those carrying shopping bags. Vehicles parked on the carriageway
at the corner of junctions, or across pedestrian crossings, also
restrict accessibility for pedestrians. This is especially true
if the vehicle is parked next to a dropped kerb intended for step-free
access for those with mobility difficulties.
8. Whilst the majority of drivers blocking
access for pedestrians are probably unaware of the problems they
are causingand may only be parking for a few minutes to
deliver or collect somethingthis is still a serious problem
for pedestrians, and a deterrent to walking, which should be tackled
through strict parking enforcement.
2nd. Encouragement of active travel and alternatives
to private car use (eg public transport/car clubs), and the role
of parking policy in demand management
9. According to the 2004 National Travel
Survey, some 20% of journeys under 1 mile and 58% of journeys
between 1 and 2 miles are undertaken in a car or van. A high proportion
of these journeys could be undertaken on foot, or cycled. If they
were, there would be considerable benefits to the local environment
and to personal health. A "push-pull" approach, to encourage
people to walk and cycle more, is neededpromotion of the
benefits of active travel and steps to make it easier to walk/cycle,
coupled with measures which make it less attractive to use the
car for short journeys. Restrictions on the availability of parking,
coupled with increased cycle parking and improved walking routes,
can help to encourage people to consider more active methods of
travel. This needs to be supported with strict parking enforcement.
When streets are seen as places which have multiple users and
uses, the benefits of getting a better balance between car use
and other uses can be appreciated by the public.
10. Planned reductions in parking spaces
in city and town centres can help to reduce traffic, and increase
street vibrancy. Over a period of 35 years in Copenhagen, parking
spaces were reduced by 2-3% per year in order to free up public
spaces from car parking, for other uses. The result has been a
four-fold increase in public life since the 1960s in the centre
11. The Government's Planning Policy Guidance
13 (Transport) states, "reducing the amount of parking in
new development is essential . . . to promote sustainable travel
choices" (para 49). One way of achieving this is through
the use of car clubsproviding preferential parking locations
for car club members. Effective enforcement of parking controls
can reduce the attractiveness of private ownership of cars, and
increase the viability of car sharing.
12. Living Streets believes that the controlled
reduction and management of parking provisionbalanced with
enforcement against illegal parkingis a key tool in the
management of traffic levels, and can help to alter the balance
of our streets to make them more pedestrian and cycle friendly.
It can also help the Government to achieve its targets for reduction
in the levels of obesity.
3rd. Reduction in street clutter
13. Ineffective enforcement of parking restrictions
can lead to more street clutter in the form of railings and bollards.
Indeed, the Department for Transport Traffic Advisory Leaflet,
even suggests the use of guard railing as a method for controlling
"Standard guard rails can be used to
prevent pavement parking. Their disadvantage is that they limit
where pedestrians can cross a road or where people from parked
vehicles can get onto the pavement. They are not generally suitable
unless for safety reasons the aim is to channel pedestrians to
particular crossing points. Costs of guard railing can vary considerably,
being from £45 per metre upwards. In some areas drivers have
driven up onto the pavement inside the guard railing. This is
dangerous and illegal and local authorities may wish to consider
liaising with the police on measures which could be used to prevent
it. Local authorities could erect bollards on the pavement close
to dropped kerbs to stop drivers using it. Gaps between the bollards
should not be less than 1.2m to allow wheelchair users or people
with double buggies to pass."
14. The above advice can be seen to have
been put into effect across the country: guard rails making it
difficult for pedestrians to cross the road and making the street
less safe (because drivers are more likely to forget pedestrians),
followed by bollards to stop drivers from driving up onto the
pavement behind the guard railing. The result has been streets
clogged with clutter which would be unnecessary if parking restrictions
4th. Road safety for pedestrians
15. Although speed reduction is far more
important for pedestrian safety, the evidence suggests that where
parking restrictions are enforced, conditions for pedestrians
are safer. An ALG study of metered controlled zones showed that
the number of parked vehicles was reduced by half, and traffic
accidents decreased by 21% in the zone, but in similar uncontrolled
areas the number of accidents rose by 22%.
16. Inappropriate parking is a particular
safety issue where there are likely to be more vulnerable pedestrianseg
in residential areas and around schools and hospitals. The Government's
School Travel Advisory Group (STAG) reported in January 2000 on
recommendations to give children greater travel choices and on
improving safety on the journey to and from school. These recommendations
included the enforcement of parking and other traffic restrictions.
Our experience as organisers of the National Walk to School Campaign
is that the illegal parking of cars on the yellow "zig-zags"
outside schools is a significant issue for many school communities,
causing a lot of tension and daily arguments as well as a chaotic
and dangerous place for children to cross the road, and that schools
are seeking help from their local authorities and police forces
to enforce the law.
17. Living Streets understands that parking
enforcement has grown in controversy as the number of Penalty
Charge Notices being issued has increased. In large part this
is to be expected, as parking offences which were previously ignored
are now being detected and the perpetrators penalised. Studies
in the 1980s showed that in London, only one illegal parking act
in 100 was penalised and more than 50% of those Fixed Penalty
Notices issued did not result in the penalty being paid. It is
not surprising that a tightening up of enforcement will lead to
18. However, parking regulation has become
complicated, and the public need to be kept on board as an increasingly
sophisticated regime is introduced, especially in built-up urban
areas where residential streets, shopping centres, facilities
like hospitals, and commuter stations are crammed together. The
regime is there to make life tolerable for everyone, but if it
is not explained properly to drivers, they can feel they are being
unfairly penalised. Public awareness campaigns to explain to drivers
what to look for when they park, and why the different kinds of
restrictions are in place, are needed.
19. The independent review of decriminalised
parking commissioned by the British Parking Association, just
has recommended that councils should spell out how much money
they have collected from parking fines and how it is being spent.
It has also recommended that the Department for Transport carries
out research in to how far parking controls are achieving their
aims. Living Streets supports these recommendations and makes
the further recommendation that the aims are revised to explicitly
encompass the needs of pedestrians and the needs to design and
manage streets and roads to meet all their uses, not just vehicular
carriage. It is also important that local authorities tighten
up on appeals procedures and information provided to offenders,
so that justice is seen to be done.
20. Despite the frustration of some drivers,
we believe the vast majority of parking notices are issued legitimately.
Living Streets urges the Government, and local authorities, to
stand their ground and ensure that parking regulations are enforced.
Despite the furore, there is widespread "silent" support
for restrictions on traffic and for improvements in the quality
The 2004 ALG Survey of Londoners
found that 67% of Londoners thought that action against illegal
parking in London should remain the same or get stronger, while
75% said the same or more action should be taken against people
illegally using bus lanes.
A survey by MORI, Physical Capital
Liveability in 2005, found that "road and pavement repairs"
was the third biggest issue that people reported as needing improvement
in their local area, and "low levels of traffic congestion"
was the seventh.
21. We also support the retention of fines
by local authorities, as long as that money is used to improve
streets and public spaces for everyone, and a proportion is spent
on improving the pavement infrastructure, which has been sadly
neglected. Much of the damage done to pavements is as a consequence
of pavement parkingit seems only just that the bill for
this should rest with those who are parking illegally. We doubt
whether some of the most innovative improvement schemes for pedestriansfor
example, the Boulevard Project in Camdenwould happen were
it not for the additional revenue raised through parking enforcement.
22. "How the money is spent" provides
an opportunity for local authorities to work with communities
to win support for parking controls as part of wider measures
to improve neighbourhoods. Living Streets recommends that councils
pool the income and hypothecate it to street and public space
improvementsaccording to need based on deprivation indices
and casualty rates rather than connected to the wards where the
money was raisedand that communities have a say in how
that money is spent. Improvements like the introduction of 20
mph zones, wider pavements, provision of children's play facilities,
tree-planting, free public toilets, more benches and litter bins,
and ground-level pedestrian crossings would be appropriate.
23. We would like to see the possibility
explored of parking attendants taking on a range of responsibilities.
They could be the eyes and ears of the council on the street.
They could also be responsible for reporting pot-holes, broken
paving slabs, abandoned cars, litter, and other street issues.
They could be trained in the powers of the new Clean Neighbourhoods
Act and be given the power to issue Penalty Charge Notices for
dropping litter, dog fouling, etc.
24. Living Streets would propose two changes
to the current situation:
i. Speed up the process of parking decriminalisation.
25. Living Streets does not believe that
the police are the best agency to carry out standard parking enforcement.
Not surprisingly, police forces see parking as a very low priority.
Parking is an integral part of transport planning, and its operation
should thus be a duty of local authorities. Local authorities
are best placed to integrate parking policy with other transport
and neighbourhood policies, and to respond to local need. At present,
135 applications for decriminalisation have been approved outside
of London. We would like a deadline set by when parking will have
been decriminalised across the whole of England and Wales.
ii. Pavement parking should become a parking
offence, in all areas except where it is specifically allowed.
26. This would bring the rest of the country
into line with London, and would help to ensure that the needs
of pedestrians are adequately addressed. Pavement parking is a
huge problem in all parts of the country except London. It causes
damage to paving and grass verges, and is a serious problem for
pedestriansparticularly blind and disabled pedestrians.
In London, prohibition of parking on footways was introduced under
the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974. Streets
can be exempt from these footway parking regulations (for example,
because they are too narrow or pavements are very wide). As a
consequence, in general, pavement parking is not a serious issue
in London. The situation outside of London is the reversepavement
parking is not a specific offence unless there are double yellow
lines, or unless specific traffic regulation orders have been
applied. The result is that pavement parking is a huge issue in
many parts of the country.
27. Parking space is a limited resource,
and its allocation will therefore be highly controversial. It
is unsurprising many local authority councillors report that many
people get more upset about parking than virtually any other issue.
However, effective parking restrictions are an essential component
of more walkable streets. They are therefore important in delivering
a range of government objectives including increases in the exercise
levels for adults and children; reductions in the levels of obesity
and coronary heart disease; promotion of active travel and reduction
in car dependency; and cleaner, safer, greener neighbourhoods.
21 Physical Capital Index, MORI June 2005. Back
What home buyers want: attitudes and decision making among consumers,
CABE March 2005. Back
Traffic Advisory Leaflet 04/93. Back
ALG written evidence to the London Assembly Transport Committee
Inquiry, Parking Enforcement in London, June 2005. Back
Tomorrow's Roads: Safer for Everyone. Back
A Review of Decriminalised Parking Enforcement for the British
Parking Association, 2005. Back