This article is a response to the leaflet issued by Bexley Council entitled Pavement Parking, which tries to justify the introduction and enforcement of a pavement parking ban across the borough, meaning the public now incur a significantly expensive fixed parking penalty notice for pavement parking, regardless of circumstances.

Not allowing pavement parking with our less than ideal infrastructure actually causes all sorts of problems. It causes motor vehicles to get damaged and in certain circumstances can also be more hazardous for motorists. There are some situations where pavements are particularly narrow where perhaps such a ban could be sensibly applied but generally speaking, in line with other boroughs, we believe parking on the pavements and verges should not be ruled illegal where it is seen by the public to be the sensible thing to do. There is also suggestion that Bexley Council's real motive for the introduction of this ban not what they say it is but instead a rather devious financial one. A form of parking piracy. As their argument doesn't really stack up, this seems quite likely.

  1. Congestion Problems: Not allowing pavement parking causes congestion problems, creating bottlenecks that would otherwise not be there. As well as wasting people's time by forcing vehicles to stop unnecessarily, this gives rise to additional exhaust pollution, noise pollution, wear and tear on vehicles and global warming.
  2. Access Problems: Not allowing pavement-parking causes access problems and problems for vehicles trying to turn in tight spaces. It causes particular difficulty in tight situations for larger vehicles, such as dustcarts, fire engines and delivery lorries.
  3. Vehicle Damage: Not allowing pavement parking gives rise to significant and unnecessary amounts of vehicle damage in the form of dents, scrapes and broken wing mirrors, due to motorists trying to operate in situations that are unrealistically tight.
  4. Reduced Visibility: Not allowing pavement parking also leads to a reduction in road visibility and therefore increases danger and the possibility of accidents.

The Council argues that pavement parking should not be allowed because it can cause an obstruction to pedestrians (although they don't seem to mind all the wheely bins). In actual fact, as we can see, not allowing pavement parking often causes an obstruction to other road users. In fact, more people are inconvenienced, more vehicles damaged and more problems caused by not allowing pavement parking, than by allowing it. Let's face it, people generally only park on the pavement where there is a need to, such as if there is an access problem, or where the roads are too narrow and the pavements too wide.

The simple fact is that in many cases our pavements are too wide and our roads too narrow. We can live with this, but, only if local authorities do not interfere with common sense. People used to park on the pavements where and when necessary. This was generally accepted where it was the sensible thing to do in order to make the best and most efficient use of the situation. However, the Council's controlling mentality now says we can only do this where they have painted marked bays. As well as the fact that they are spending our money on painting bays (which are unwanted, unsightly and unnecessary), they have nowhere near covered all the problem roads.

Rather than the Council painting unsightly marked bays, we would rather see pavement parking allowed across the board where people feel it is appropriate and on all roads where the combined width of the pavements is greater than half the width of the road. As an additional precaution motorists are asked to leave a minimum access width along the pavement of three feet or more. A simple three feet piece of string will soon tell you if you are not leaving the appropriate room.

Points in favour of a pavement parking ban as outlined by Bexley Council in their Pavement Parking leaflet and a counter argument in favour of not applying such a ban because it is simply not practical. Other local authorities acknowledge this and let people go about their business unhampered, however, it seems that Bexley Council have a hidden and rather devious agenda.

Bexley Council Says: Is dangerous as it often forces people of all ages to walk on the road.
Counter Argument: This is a rare situation and only occurs when vehicles are hogging so much of a narrow pavement that people cannot get passed with a pram. In roads where this a problem, and it is not possible to leave an access width of three feet or more, pavement parking can still be banned. However, the criteria we are arguing in favour of, i.e. allowing a minimum access width of three feet, covers this problem and pavement parking only need be allowed in roads where the combined width of the pavements is greater than half the width of the road.

Bexley Council Says: Causes particular problems for disabled people, young children and people with prams.
Counter Argument: Allowing a minimum access width of three feet covers this problem.

Bexley Council Says: Is dangerous for blind and partially sighted people.
Counter Argument: Are they going to ban lampposts, signposts and trees that grow out of the pavement next? For partially sighted people these are harder to see than parked vehicles and, as anyone who has ever walked into a lamppost knows, hurt somewhat more. Blind people conducting their own way with the aid of a stick usually walk on the inside of the pavement and therefore would not be obstructed under the new guidelines of allowing a three feet access width between the parked vehicle and the inside wall or boundary of the pavement in question.

Bexley Council Says: Ruins tidy grass verges, creating muddy tracks.
Counter Argument: Yes, in some instances it does, but only if it's very wet for sustained periods. However, nowadays we have to recognise that we need every inch of parking space that we can get. More, not less! If local residents want, or feel the need, to park on their grass verges, they are aware they may have to put up with muddy tracks, and really, the say so should be with them. However, if it's too much of a problem, the Council can always tarmac the area. Let the residents decide, they're the ones that have to live there.

Bexley Council Says: Blocks access to underground services and fire hydrants which can be vital in an emergency.
Counter Argument: When we argued in favour of footway parking being allowed in Plantation Road, the road where we live, one point we made to Bexley Council is that if vehicles aren't allowed to park with two wheels on the pavement a fire engine cannot fit between the parked cars to get access to the houses down the road. This is because the pavements are too wide and the road too narrow. The Council's response to this argument was that the fire brigade would just tow the vehicles out of the way to gain access. What all those vehicles down the side of the road with a house on fire and possibly lives at risk? Obstruction didn't seem to be an issue then. However, to keep everyone happy, this problem can be solved if underground services are marked appropriately so as to make them obvious, that's if they are not obvious enough already.

Bexley Council Says: Breaks paving slabs causing hazards particularly for the partially sighted.
Counter Argument: Pavements do not have to be surfaced with slabs, they can be surfaced with tarmac or concrete, and many are now. Many people feel that this yields a neater and more attractive finish anyway. It is certainly smoother. A winner all round.

Conclusion: The pavement parking ban in the Bexley Borough has caused a lot of problems for people. It has resulted in considerable vehicle damage, inconvenience, additional pollution, congestion and people being fined unfairly. It has not improved the quality of life for people and in true Council fashion, it has generally made life worse and more difficult for people. Why is it that we have people in a position of power who can so abuse the trust we put in them, making idiotic changes against the public will, and then threaten us with the might of the law if we do not abide by them? It is quite apparent as to why Bexley Council have really done this, and it is not for any of the reasons stated, it is purely to create a situation where they can forcibly suck more money out of people. We will continue our campaign to overturn, what so many people feel, is a ridiculous, indiscriminate and unjust law.