22.Pavement parking effects everyone, but some are more adversely affected than others. These groups include:
a)People who have visual impairments;
b)People who are neurodiverse;
c)People who use mobility aids to get around; and
d)People with prams and pushchairs or walking with children.
23.Many of the difficulties experienced are due to the way pavement parking reduces the useable width of the pavement. People who rely on a mobility aid, such as a stick, walking frame, mobility scooter or wheelchair, may be impeded or find the pavement impassable. People with a visual impairment may need support from a carer while walking or use a long cane or guide dog. At the engagement event we held in in Bexhill-on-Sea we heard that effective use of a long cane is impossible if the available pavement is too narrow. In Bexhill-on-Sea we also heard how people had been injured when they were forced to squeeze through spaces that were too narrow because of vehicles parked on pavements.
24.Some people with visual impairments use guide dogs. When faced with a hazard the guide dog is trained to stop, but the user of the guide dog does not necessarily know why they have stopped. On our walk around Bexhill-on-Sea we were accompanied by a guide dog user and saw first-hand the difficulties they face. When a guide dog has stopped unexpectedly their user has to think why the dog has stopped and what danger they are facing, before deciding what action to take. A vehicle parked on the pavement might force a guide dog user and their dog to step out into the road.
25.Another issue with pavement parking, particularly for those with a visual impairment, is its lack of predictability. Chris Theobald from Guide Dogs told us that people get to know their local areas and certain obstructions are expected or appear routinely. For example, street furniture, when it is bin collection day or where there are advertising boards outside shops. He went on to explain that “pavement parking could crop up anywhere essentially. That can really add to people’s nervousness about stepping out independently”.
26.Many pavements are not built to take the weight of vehicles and can result in trip hazards. Pavements become cracked and uneven creating an unpredictable surface as well as damage to kerbs and grass verges. Councils bear the costs of these repairs. As noted in our July 2019 report on local roads funding and maintenance, there has been historic, long-term underfunding to properly maintain the local road network, including pavements. Councils should not have to bear the unnecessary extra costs associated with having to repair pavements damaged by persistent pavement parking.
27.We heard how pavement parking can make some people so afraid that they do not leave their home and how this can increase the risk of social isolation. Living Streets, the walking charity, surveyed its members about the impact pavement parking has on their daily lives. Social isolation was highlighted as an issue by some of the 4,000 people who responded. One person said:
My disabled sister is now housebound in the area we were born and bred in because of selfish parking […] It became impossible for me to take my elderly mother for a walk around the block, physically supported, because there wasn’t enough room left for 2 people to walk side-by-side.
28.Parking over dropped kerbs restricts the ability of people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters to leave their homes. When drivers park over dropped kerbs people who use these mobility aids are unable to go out, have to complete their journeys in a different and sometimes longer way, put themselves in danger in the path of vehicles or have to abandon their journey and return home.
29.The evidence we received clearly shows that, in some areas, pavement parking and damage to pavements is causing loneliness. In October 2018 the Government published a loneliness strategy. It states that the Government is “committed to long-lasting action to tackle the problem of loneliness”.
30.Another group who are affected by pavement parking are people who have babies or young children. They may use prams or pushchairs or need to walk directly alongside their children. The width of the pavement can put these young and vulnerable pedestrians at risk. Mrs Susan Lyons, a member of the public, told us that with a double buggy it can be difficult to get around. She said: “the lives of me and my children were at greater risk of being hit by a car on the road, than they would have been on a pavement”. Emily Steadman, a member of the public, who faces pavement parking issues outside her children’s school told us:
[Pavement parking] not only makes walking down the pavement extremely unpleasant […] cars driving on and off the pavement create a hazard for small children who can’t easily be seen from the wheel of a car. I have had a number of terrifying occasions where my children have very nearly been hit by a car coming on or off the pavement as they’ve run along.
31.The Department for Transport recognise in their evidence that pavement parking “can cause serious problems for pedestrians, and particularly for people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments, and those with prams or pushchairs”. Michael Ellis MP, the then Minister of State for Transport with responsibility for parking, told us that the Department was “seeking to make progress on the issue of pavement parking”.
32.Pavement parking affects everyone who uses the pavement. Pavement parking puts pedestrians in danger when they are forced to move into the road to get around a vehicle or where there are trip hazards due to damage to the pavement. People with mobility or visual impairments, as well as those who care for others, are disproportionately affected. It exacerbates, and is a cause of, social isolation and loneliness for people who feel unable to safely leave their homes or are physically prevented from doing so by pavement parking. We find it profoundly regrettable that the Government has taken so long to take any action to deal with this issue. There have been no concrete actions to tackle pavement parking and improve people’s daily lives. We recognise that the Government has to balance the needs of drivers and pedestrians. We recommend that the Government commits to tackling pavement parking as part of its Loneliness Strategy. We recommend that the Government swiftly learns the lessons from the work being done in other areas of Great Britain. We will be watching the actions of Scotland and Wales around pavement parking with interest.
45 Miss Lisa Boocock (), Mr George Hogman (), Simon Daws (), Guide Dogs ()
46 [Chris Theobald]
47 The East Riding of Yorkshire Council (), Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (), Telford & Wrekin Council (), West Midlands Combined Authority (Transport for West Midlands) (), Southend-on-Sea Borough Council (), St Helens Council (), Surrey County Council (), Northumberland County Council (), Sheffield City Council (), Mid Sussex District Council ()
48 Transport Committee, Tenth report of the session 2017–19, , HC1486
49 Living Streets-additional written evidence ()
50 Dana O’Connor (), Terence Fleming (), Mr Richard Toulson (), Alan Woodard (), Steven Gibson (), Mr Steve Hatton (), Mr Leslie Phillips (), Dr Barbara Lucas (), Mr D M (), Mr Morris Steel (), Mrs Lisa Ainsworth-Barnes (), Mrs Alison Morgan (), Mr Eddie Clark (), National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (), Arthur Ward (), Mr Douglas Campbell (), Mr Gordon Guest ()
51 Bristol Walking Alliance (), Mr D M (), Green Councillors’ Group, Bristol City Council (), National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (), Birmingham and Black Country Sight Loss Councils (), Oxfordshire County Council Public Health (), Guide Dogs (), NFBUK (), Leicester Disabled People’s Access Group (), Mr Robin Kenworthy (), Living Streets (), Living Streets-additional written evidence ()
52 HM Government, , 15 October 2018
53 HM Government, , 15 October 2018
55 Mrs Susan Lyons ()
56 Mrs Emily Steadman ()
57 Department for Transport () para 5
Published: 9 September 2019