Pavements for Pedestrians

Pavement parking along Mill Road is a menace, especially to people with disabilities (physical, visual, auditory or hidden) and to young children. It is also wrecking Mill Road’s pavements, which were not designed to carry vehicular traffic.

Graphic, titled "Reclaim the Pavements, Mill Road," of child pedestrians including wheelchair user, holding signs prohibiting cycles and pavement parking and warning of pedestrians.

Many drivers feel entitled to park on Mill Road’s pavements. Indeed many drive aggressively onto the footway, honking their horn for you to move out of the way.

But isn’t it illegal?

At the present time, outside of Greater London, parking on the footway is not unlawful. But driving on the pavement is. Spotted the obvious logical flaw? Let’s see what the Highway Code says…

You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs. [Highway Code, updated 29th January 2022, Rule 224]

Only pedestrians may use the pavement. Pedestrians include wheelchair and mobility scooter users. [Highway Code, updated 29th January 2022, Rule H2]

‘MUST NOT, should not’… What’s the difference?

Many Highway Code rules are legal requirements, identified by the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’. Other Highway Code rules (with advisory wording such as ‘should/should not’ or ‘do/do not’) may be used in evidence, in court. See Wording of The Highway Code. You can view/download the latest update of the Highway Code (PDF, free) here.

A Rogues Gallery of pavement abuse along Mill Road
  • Taxi on Mill Road pavement
It’s not just Mill Road, though is it?

Absolutely. Take a look around the corner along East Road. Then check out the verges of Barnwell Road and Whitehill Road when Cambridge United are playing at the Abbey Stadium. As well as commenting below, why not get in touch with Living Streets Cambridge who are working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and CamSight to tackle the problem of pavement parking in Cambridge. Check out their rogues’ gallery and/or email the group.

Can’t the police do anything?

Pavement parking, in Cambridge, is not unlawful, and Cambridgeshire Constabulary have suffered over a decade of financial cutbacks.

But Cambridgeshire County Council have had powers to deal with this for over eleven years.

What? Eleven years of council inaction! Really?

Councils with civil parking enforcement powers (including Cambridgeshire County Council) were given ‘special authorisation’ in February 2011 by the (then) Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (DfT), Norman Baker, to prohibit parking on footways and verges, wherever they considered it necessary. This would be through a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) or Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO).

Read/download a PDF of Norman Baker’s original letter here. A text-only PDF is available here.

So why have Cambridgeshire County Council done nothing*?

It may be political. The civil parking enforcement zone only applies within the Cambridge City Council boundary, although Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) ‘tickets’ are issued by Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) ‘traffic wardens’ contracted to the County Council. Until the change in control at the May 2021 elections, no senior County Council committee member sat for any Cambridge County Division.

Now, however, Councillor Gerri Bird (Chesterton Division) is Vice-Chair of the County’s Highways and Transport Committee. Perhaps she, and our local county councillors could bring about some welcome changes.

(*But see the discussion in our comments section about whether these powers may have been used on Fendon Road and Mowbray Road.)

So, if the County Council do make regulations will drivers just ignore them?

They might. But it would cost them – £70 for a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). And the regulations wouldn’t be limited to places with yellow ‘no waiting’ lines. Currently, Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) need to wait to see why a vehicle is waiting (eg lawful loading/unloading or unlawful ‘Just popping into the shop’ waiting). Drivers know that they can come out of a shop with something heavy and get away with this misuse of pavements, time and time again.

However, where a pavement parking prohibition is in place, it is breached the instant a vehicle mounts the footway, for whatever reason. CEOs could issue an immediate PCN.

What about Romsey side-streets where the pavement is the only place to park?

In London, parking is allowed on the pavement where local boroughs have set out marked bays half-on, half-off the pavement and put up signs, just like there are in Mill Road’s Romsey Town. A ban on pavement (and verge) parking elsewhere wouldn’t affect Romsey side-streets.

And how much more council tax would we have to pay?

Potentially nothing. Zero. Nil. Zilch. There should be no ongoing cost to council tax payers. Enforcement should be self-financing as penalty charge revenue would help to pay the salaries of the existing enforcement officers.

How can we make our feelings known?

Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can contribute to our comments section at the foot of this blogpost.

If you feel strongly about this issue, why not send a polite email to Councillor Neil Shailer (Romsey) and Councillor Richard Howitt (Petersfield) with Councillor Peter McDonald Councillor (Chair, Highways & Transportation Committee) and Gerri Bird (Vice-Chair) copied in? Click here to open an email to them.

If you don’t live in the Mill Road area you can find the county councillor for your division here.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership has launched (Monday 21st February 2022) a period of public engagement on parking issues in Cambridge. The engagement period will run for four weeks and will close at midday on Monday 21st March 2022. Although pavement parking is not on the list of the kind of on-street parking issues and problems the Greater Cambridge Partnership would like to hear about. They do point out that there may be other parking issues in your area that you may wish to comment on.

You can find the consultation site here – Parking issues in Cambridge: Spring 2022 – and add comments to their interactive map here – Parking 2022 – Discussion Map.

Where else has a scheme like this, outside London?

Peterborough, which is a Unitary Authority* brought in a city-wide Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting pavement parking in 2017. Although this is a Conservative-led authority, it was proposed by Labour councillors and gained multi-party support. The clever thing which they did was to bring in a overarching Traffic Regulation Order and leave implementation to be a matter for discussion where local communities, or the emergency services requested it, or it was otherwise seen as essential.

*A Unitary Authority means that Peterborough City Council have all of the responsibilities which, in Cambridge are split between Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.

Peterborough City Councillor Richard Ferris, Labour member for Park Ward, said:

“It’s unusual when you get cross-party support like we did at the meeting. It’s a massive issue in Park ward. It’s up there as one of the top half-a-dozen issues people contact me on.”

[Peterborough Today: Peterborough drivers face fines for parking on roadside verges or pavements]

More on Peterborough’s scheme…

Shouldn’t there be a national ban on pavement parking?

This was discussed by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee in September 2019. The Chair at that time, Lilian Greenwood MP, said:

“Pavement parking has a huge impact on people’s lives and their ability get around their communities. […] evidence to our inquiry revealed the impact on those with visual and mobility impairments and people with children.

“We are deeply concerned that the Government has failed to act on this issue, despite long-standing promises to do so. This is a thorny problem that may be difficult to resolve to the satisfaction of all, but the Government’s inaction has left communities blighted by unsightly and obstructive pavement parking and individuals afraid or unable to leave their homes or safely navigate the streets.”

House of Commons Transport Select Committee, September 2019.

Should Cambridgeshire County Council wait for a national ban? The DfT granted them their own powers – over a decade ago. What are they waiting for?

Time passes…

On 12th March 2020 it was announced: The Government is to run a consultation about a national ban on pavement parking following the Transport Committee’s 2019 influential inquiry and report. []

The Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said:

“I am pleased the Government has taken on board the previous Committee’s concerns about the very real difficulties presented by pavement parking and our proposed solutions. […]

“However, we have to now deliver this change. The Government promised to look into the issue in 2015 but consultations, roundtable events and internal reviews failed to lead to any actions to improve the experience of the public. This Government has signalled an intent to finally deliver change. We now need a detailed timeframe from the Department for Transport to ensure this happens.

“In publishing today’s Response, we are putting the Government on notice that we will be monitoring progress carefully. We look forward to reviewing progress on each of the pledges and our Committee has committed to a further evidence session in 12 months’ time to drive real change.”

And here we are, two years on… So, where is the DfT’s Pavement Parking Ban? Nowhere to be seen. But there is no need to wait; the DfT granted Cambridgeshire County Council their own powers over a decade ago.

See also the earlier blogpost: Pavement Parking along Mill Road.

Would you like to walk along a vehicle-free pavement? Whatever your view, as long as it is expressed politely, you can add your comments below.

And do consider checking out the Living Streets Cambridge website and/or emailing the group.

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9 Comments (Don't forget to scroll down to subscribe to website updates.)
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Edward Jenkins
12 April 2022 17:47

“A Road In Difficulties!”
(A Pedestrian’s Point Of View)

Now A ‘Mess of Pottage’
Springs to mind,
When thoughts turn to Mill Road,
And its people of all kinds.

Ruts and potholes
Along the way,
Stepping in to one of these
Will surely make you pay!

Those quiet bikes and scooters
With loose slabs where we walk,
But do not step aside, there
A van or car will make you baulk!

Unpleasant fumes and anxious people,
Hardly a place to spend time,
Until with its problems we grapple,
And rescue with a ‘safety line’.

Ed Jenkins.

Edward Jenkins
22 February 2022 21:41

This whole matter has been an ongoing concern of Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge City Council as far back as I can remember, notwithstanding the provision of powers in 2011!

Through a variety of means the County Council has strived, most of the time democratically, to control the weight of traffic using Mill Road, but throughout this time it seems the County has been effectively influenced by powerful lobbyists such as local Trader Associations who insist on the importance of maintaining, without contemplating change, their peculiar trading methods which must, in their opinions, involve customer pavement parking at anytime of day, at any convenient place along the highway!

I fear what might happen in Mill Road, should the County Coumcil choose to go ahead and apply the parking sanctions suggested, where there’ll be widesspread disobedience of the law, similar to what happened when the Mill Road Bridge was initially closed to traffic, and even worse chaos will ensue in the streets!!

For this reason I’m sure the powers provided in 2011 will not be introduced until the issue of Mill Road traffic control has been settled sensibly by all concerned once and for all.

22 February 2022 20:55

Great post can understand the complexities of the situation and who has the power to change things on our doorsteps and how other areas have achieved bans on pavement parking.

I have face blindness so do not recognise faces and as I have had suspicious people outside my front door parked on the pavements (even on our communal drives and on my drive) who abuse us if asked to move off the pavement to make way for pedestrians. It is doubly difficult for me as cars come back and it is scary as I do not know if they are the ones who have been doing suspicious things let alone know if they are the ones who were verbally threatening. Detailed research like Pavements for Pedestrians message, really helpful thanks.

21 February 2022 23:24

To be fair to the council they didn’t do nothing in those 11 years. There have been at least 2 roads covered by TROs to prohibit verge parking in Cambridge (presumably under this legislation). Fendon Road and Mowbray Road have a prohibition on parking on the grass part (parking is still permitted on the tarmac part of the verge). I suspect there have been a few others over the years. (Maybe Perne Road got one too?). That was primarily about preventing churning up the grass.

But footway parking has got dramatically worse in the last decade and now is absolutely rife and normalised even when there is no reason for it (e.g Queen Edith’s Way does not have double-yellow lines so parking is permitted but people still park on the verge and block footways).

A blanket TRO, as in Peterborough sounds like an excellent way to make a dent in this (although it looks like residents still get a veto over reclaiming public space from their private vehicle storage: giving over the roads to private parking is bad enough; taking the pavements too really shouldn’t be allowed however much the residents might find it convenient).

I applaud living streets for starting up their campaign and hope we can make a dent in this problem – it’s way overdue.

Martin L-S
Martin L-S
21 February 2022 22:14

Pavement parking is absolutely rife on Mill Road. I’ve just been there, and despite a pretty clear roadway, there are vehicles all over the pavements. Even taxis are parking on pavements. We need proper parking bays marked out to stamp out this behaviour. Of course, that is not compatible with large amounts of through-traffic.

Another reason why the bridge should be re-opened to safe cycling and walking and efficient bus users, following its de-facto closure to those users with the re-opening to through-traffic.

Andy Kennedy
Andy Kennedy
21 February 2022 22:13

This is a great article and very timely, I for one will be writing to the elected politicians that are mentioned above and trying to get some action on this. It is getting waayyyy out of hand. One of the benefits of reducing traffic on Mill Road should be the ability to provide additional on road and near road parking spaces.

21 February 2022 18:45

In my area I often see families struggle with buggies or young children on bikes and scooters having to go off the pavement into the road which is dangerous as they cannot get past vehicles pavement parked blocking their way.

21 February 2022 18:42

I am mobile disabled but sometimes have to use my wheelchair and sometimes cannot even get beyond my front gate if a vehicle has pavement parked on our very narrow pavements outside my front door. We have double yellow lines on both sides of the road so there is no reason to go up onto the pavement so it is even more dumbfounding why both cars and supermarket vans/delivery vans do this.

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