Pavement Parking

I must ask for your patience in reading this, as I am using the philosophy of an ancient joke. When asked how to get somewhere, the response was, aah, I wouldn’t start from here if I were you.

What is parking?

The meaning of the word parking has changed dramatically.Richmond1⁠ writes:

park (circa 1845)


a. to plant a tree or spread a patch of turf or flowers

b. to create a little patch of parkland

park (circa 2015)


  1. (1) to bring a vehicle to a stop and keep standing at the edge of a public way
    (2) to leave temporarily on a public way or in a parking lot or garage

  2. to enclose in a park

These different uses of the word park are well illustrated by this newspaper article2⁠:

Hackney parking space which was transformed into a mini garden to allow passers-by to relax is to be removed after a driver complained.

The People Parking Bay in London Fields, which comes complete with plant pots, garden furniture, and a fake lawn, has been a huge hit among locals over the last month and is on its fourth visitor’s book.

It was created by Brenda Puech after Hackney Council told her she could only use a parking permit for a car.”

What is pavement?

There are strange imbalances in the information we have about the Queen’s Highway.3

There are very detailed studies of the ‘carriageway”4⁠, but similar levels of detail of information do not exist for pavements or footways.

Eisenhower said the uninspected inevitably deteriorates.

I understand what is happening is that licensed controllers of licensed fast moving heavy machinery believe they may:

  • trespass outside the carriageway

  • not pay the full costs of that trespass, for example from criminal damage resulting from the effects of power laws. 5

Giving “due regard” to pavement parking

Is pavement parking being understood as a symptom, a can opener issue leading to questions about why did it happen and how can it be prevented? Are the words pavement and parking clearly defined in law and practice?

I recommend that no decisions are taken about pavement parking until a comprehensive review has been completed. Solutions, working from a clearly defined set of principles will probably be locality based, may vary from street to street and specific destinations and will include all forms of parking, not only of powered vehicles and street-based parking. This review should be clearly based on physics and real costs.

For example, would pavement parking be an issue if there were serious research into the possibilities of mode shifts and a comprehensive study had been completed from which to make decisions?

How much parking is there? What does it cost?

It is not obvious that large metal moving box storage is being appropriately costed and that the reasons why inappropriate behavior happens are understood.

Any review must define clearly the existing parking provision from all sources, how it is used, maintained and paid for, the implications of how things are done now, and how things might be done.

Defining the issues – what is the context of pavement parking?

I understand parking strategies are core parts of Public Health and Planning strategies. Specific issues like pavement parking must be approached from within their context. What has caused this issue, what could be changed upstream to prevent and resolve the issue?

ITDP have written6⁠:

In the last few decades a growing number of European cities have led the world in changing the direction of parking policy. European citizens grew tired of having public spaces and footpaths occupied by surface parking. Each parking space consumes from 15 m2 to 30 m2, and the average motorist uses two to five different parking spaces every day.

In dense European cities, a growing number of citizens began to question whether dedicating scarce public space to car parking was wise social policy, and whether encouraging new buildings to build parking spaces was a good idea. No matter how many new parking garages and motorways they built, the traffic congestion only grew worse, and as much as 50% of traffic congestion was caused by drivers cruising around in search of a cheaper parking space.

In the cities reviewed here, parking policy has been reoriented around alternative social goals. Some recent parking reforms are driven by the need to comply with EU ambient air quality or national greenhouse gas targets. New parking policies are part of broader mobility targets encouraging reductions in the use of private motor vehicles. While London, Stockholm, and a few other European cities have managed to implement congestion charging to reduce motor vehicle use, more are turning to parking.

Every car trip begins and ends in a parking space, so parking regulation is one of the best ways to regulate car use. Vehicles cruising for parking often make up a significant share of total traffic. Other reasons for changing parking policies were driven by the desire to revitalize city centers and repurpose scarce road space for bike lanes or bike parking.

The amount of parking available in a city is heavily influenced by public policy. On-street parking is governed by municipal or district policy, and off-street parking is generally controlled through zoning and building regulations. These are ultimately political questions: how much parking is built in new buildings, and how much public space should be dedicated to motor vehicle parking as opposed to other uses.

The impacts of these new parking policies have been impressive: revitalized and thriving town centers; significant reductions in private car trips; reductions in air pollution; and generally improved quality of life.

Progress in Europe on parking reform should not be overstated. Most cities still impose minimum parking requirements on developers, and few cities have imposed maximum parking requirements. While a growing number of cities have mandated charges for both on- and off-street parking, they generally charge rates that are too low. The most innovative European parking practices are discussed below as actionable measures that can be applied by any city government depending on their short- and long- term goals.”

The European Ministers of Transport have made the following declaration7⁠:

In and around Europe’s many growing urban centres, cycling is an essential tool for congestion relief. Both for the state and for citizens, cycling is the most cost effective transport mode after walking, as it produces massive positive externalities for society at little expenditure in terms of infrastructure and vehicles. When production, maintenance, operation and fuel are taken into account, cycling is the most greenhouse gas efficient transport mode of all. Considering that half of all passenger car trips made in most European cities are shorter than five kilometres and that more than half of all motorized cargo trips in EU cities could be shifted to bicycles, there is significant potential to increase cycling’s mode share and to improve quality of life.”

There have recently been other proposals for mode shift, like full integration of rail, light goods, open source distribution from railheads and last mile solutions by e cargo bike, which will significantly reduce the need for vehicle journeys and their required parking spaces.7


The other vector is time. The classic example of this is the school run, when much inappropriate pavement parking happens. By reducing the necessity to travel by vehicle, the resulting issue of its storage at a specific point of its journey, is removed. Are school travel plans being used as part of writing area strategies?

What are the purposes of a street and its surrounding land?

I recommend a detailed mapping exercise, using Dutch transport planning principles, that all of Britain is mapped into villages (Waltham forest model) with clear definitions of the purposes of areas and streets.

The Design Manual for Bicycle traffic, published by CROW8⁠, states:

2.4 The bicycle and sustainable safety

A sustainable safe road network is based on the following principles:

      • Functionality of roads: mono functionality of roads in a hierarchically structured road network

      • Homogeneity of mass and/or direction and speed: equality in speed, direction and mass at moderate to high speeds.

      • Willingness to forgive of the surroundings and road users among themselves: limitation of injury due to a willingness to forgive of the surroundings and road users anticipation of the behaviour of others.

      • Recognisability of the design of the road and predictability of how the road continues and the behaviour of road users: surroundings and the behaviour of other road users who satisfy the expectations of road users by means of consistency and continuity of the road design

      • Status acknowledgement by the traffic participant: the ability to estimate task proficiency.

There is now general agreement on dividing the road network into three categories for motorised traffic, namely: distributor roads, district access roads and estate access roads.”

These principles should be interpreted in the UK that all primarily residential areas shall have 8 mph speed limits, access is only for those entering and leaving that area and the car is clearly understood to be a guest. 9

This is the home zone or woonerf, but I understand the concept has been misapplied in the UK because it is not seen as a fundamental building block of how to design how we live between buildings.

All other routes that are not dual “carriageways” should have 20 mph speed limits.

Licenced Trespass

Crossovers to parking in residential front gardens require planning permission – a trespass by a carriage on the footpath is being licenced. Might the local authority be subsidising off street parking, as there are no charges for the future upkeep of the footpath over which the crossover goes?

It is not obvious that something that assists a private individual should be paid for from the common wealth.

Similarly, utilities dig holes in the public realm, but this is not the practice in landlord and tenant law, where utilities will be in landlord-owned service ducts to which utilities have access as needed with the landlord’s express permission.

As planning permission for a crossover is the granting of a licence to drive on a footpath, an annual licence charge for the upkeep of the pavement would seem to be reasonable.

There would also seem to be major implications for the local authority under its Public Sector Equality Duty and also for the proper financing of local authority activities.

Decisions about parking charges should not only look at costs of on-street parking but should be part of a detailed chain of decisions that take into account and properly audit all the costs. The GLA has published research on car usage in London.11

There are very strong indications that private car use in London is declining, and very careful planning can assist in this. This will immediately reduce the occurrence of pavement parking.

1. Richmond, M. The Etymology of Parking. (2015). Available at:

2. Grafton-Green, P. Hackney protester to remove People’s Parking Bay after driver complains | London Evening Standard. Evening Standard(2017). Available at: (Accessed: 13th April 2019)

3. House of Lords – Director of Public Prosecutions v. Jones and Another (On Appeal from a Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division). Available at: (Accessed: 15th January 2016)

4. Wales. Each year the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) commissions an independent survey of local authority highway departments in About the ALARM survey. (2019).

5. Masoner, R. The Fourth Power Rule. (2014). Available at:

6. Kodransky, M. & Hermann, G. Europe’s Parking U – Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation. ITDP(2011). Available at: (Accessed: 2nd September 2015)

7. EU Ministers for Transport. Declaration on Cycling as a Climate Friendly Transport Mode. (2015).

8. Groot, R. de & CROW kenniscentrum voor verkeer, vervoer en infrastructuur. Design manual for bicycle traffic. (CROW, 2016).

9. Hass-Klau, C. An Illustrated Guide to Traffic Calming: C Hass-Klau: Books. (1990).

10. Shoup, D. C. & Association, A. P. The high cost of free parking. (2005).

11. Mayor sets out ambitious plan to persuade Londoners to reduce car use | London City Hall. (2017). Available at: (Accessed: 3rd May 2019)

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