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19 November, 2020

Is parking on the pavement illegal? The truth explained

Feeling tired and need to stop for a short break, or perhaps you need to quickly make a phone call or grab a drink from a shop? It wouldn’t seem particularly unreasonable to stop and park briefly on the pavement to do one of those, would it? But what are the laws surrounding parking on pavement, and could doing so end up getting you a fine or points on your license. Let’s take a look into it and find the definitive answer.

Parking on pavement – is it illegal?

To sum it up simply, parking on the pavement outside of London is not illegal, but parking on the pavement in London is illegal. However, you can still incur a fine for parking on the pavement when outside of London despite it not being illegal, which makes the law quite a grey area.

The Highway Code states in rule 244 that drivers “MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it.” This is relatively self-explanatory, but can become a little more confusing when taking into account the phrases ‘must not’ and ‘should not’.

Rule 244 states that drivers must not park on the pavement in London. This indicates that there is legislation behind this rule and if you break it, you could be liable to receive a fine. However, the rule also states that drivers should not park on the pavement elsewhere (not in London). The use of ‘should not’ here indicates that there is not legislation behind this rule and therefore, you should not be liable to receive a fine for doing so.

However, with this being said, there’s another rule to take into account.

Rule 242 of The Highway Code states that “You MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or anywhere it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road.” This makes parking on the road instead of the pavement a little more difficult and is something to also think about. If your car is judged to be either in a dangerous position or causing an unnecessary obstruction of the road by a police officer, you could be liable to receive a Fixed Penalty Notice.

cars parked on road

Why is this a rule?

Parking on the pavement can cause arguments between drivers and pedestrians. Drivers argue that parking on the pavement allows room for general traffic to pass and more importantly, emergency vehicles. However, pedestrians argue that parking on the pavement can cause inconvenience to pedestrians walking past, specifically the elderly and disabled who have mobility issues.

This rule therefore attempts to combat such arguments, allowing for pedestrians to use pavement and sidewalks without any obstructions. However, this then could directly impact Rule 242 of The Highway Code, as cars parked on the road could be causing obstructions so therefore, this has become a grey area.

Line of suburb homes each with a car parked in the driveway

Is this rule likely to be changed?

The Department for Transport is considering a major overhaul, with new laws to prevent cars from parking on the pavement. 

In March, the Department for Transport’s chief minister released a statement reiterating the government’s stance on pavement parking, saying that “vehicles parked on the pavement can cause very real difficulties for many pedestrians.”

It’s therefore possible that we could see these rules being changed, with some speculation believing that a blanket ban for parking on the pavement could be issued. However, no details have yet been announced, so the rules that we covered above still currently stand.

Hopefully this has cleared up any confusion you may have had around this law. If you’re interested in reading some more regarding parking laws, check out our article Parking on yellow lines – what you can and can’t do.

Close up of double yellow lines (meaning, no parking at any time) at the curb of a tree lined residential urban street, Belfast, Northern Ireland.