Thursday, October 08, 2009

Parking Laws

A letter in the Shuttle about parking motorcycles and mopeds in bicycle spots and getting ticketed has prompted me to write a bit about parking restrictions etc. Just to cover myself I'm not a lawyer so don't take this as read.

Okay first off Wyre Forest is operating under Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) which takes parking offences off the hands of the police, that means the police only get involved in certain circumstances -

Obstruction. Is a police matter and like so much in English law isn't defined. Rule of thumb is if you are preventing someone using the public highway that's obstruction. So parking in the road on a single track, or parking across the entire width of a pavement would most likely be classed as obstruction.

Criminal Damage. Sounds obvious. If you hit a bollard you're liable for it, however there's some minor bits people might not realise. If you crack a kerb stone while parking that's criminal damage, if you're parking on a grass verge and leave ruts that's criminal damage. These latter offences are rarely seen as it's a case of proving that it was you who created the damage "It was already like that" defence.

Driving on the pavement. This covers all motor vehicles and yes bicycles too. You can drive on a pavement in order to reach private land in order to park otherwise getting on to your own drive would be an offence.

Pavement Parking in London. Yes this is legislation you can't park on a pavement in London, but this doesn't cover anywhere else.

Refusing to move on. Like the under-age alcohol drinking it may not be an offence to be parked where you are, but it's an offence not to move if asked to by an officer.

And that's it on the police side of parking everything else is handled under CPE.

So for CPE.

The obvious - parking where restrictions tell you otherwise. However it's important to note that restrictions on the road also cover the pavement, or to be specific public areas. If you're on private ground they don't apply. So if you have a yard that fronts a double-yellowed highway you can't park on the road, but you can park on your yard next to the highway.

Another point about parking restrictions. Double yellow lines no longer require a No Parking sign, it's taken as given that it's No Parking at any time. Single yellow lines require a sign stating the restriction and this must be within a reasonable distance of the restriction.

Picking up/setting down passengers. Can be done on any yellow line, amusingly unless you're a taxi you can't do this in a bus stop. Yep stopping at a bus-stop to pick up/set down someone is an offence.

Blocking a drop-kerb. In specific a drop-kerb used by pedestrians, this doesn't mean drop kerbs used to get onto drives etc. this is specifically those used by pedestrians.

Parking in a area specified for a different type of vehicle or driver. What it says on the tin. No matter the full car-park you can't park in a coach spot if you're not driving one and you can't park in a disabled spot*.

Not being parked fully in a parking bay. Again no definition of parking bay. Rule of Thumb again if you're outside the white lines you're outside the bay. If you're on the white lines you can argue you're inside it.

Selling goods while parked on a public street. This is a tricky one as the law has moved around on this. From the council's point of view you can't sell or advertise anything while parked in public. So all those cars you see with "For Sale" signs in their windows parked on public verges, in public car-parks or on the side of the road are committing an offence. Now as I say tricky as the law states that it's actually okay to do this unless the council has specified that you can't do this for that road. However there is no requirement for the council to put up any notices that it has been banned - neat.

Parking on a pavement. Another tricky one. Again the law doesn't stop you from doing this except in London. As mentioned restrictions apply to the footpath as well, but if you read the council's missives parking on the pavement is an offence full-stop. Treat with caution.

Parking more than 50cm from the kerb. Again no definition assume that any part of your car that is closest to the kerb counts.

And that's that for parking and CPE. There are more rules and you have to follow any extras posted on boards etc., but hopefully that covers the major points and will allow you to argue happily with any enforcers out there.

* Okay two extras on disable parking. Obviously you need the permit, but the person to whom it belongs doesn't have to be in the vehicle at the time they just have to be there for the start or the end of the parking term. Second point is that this covers parking in such bays, loading/unloading or picking up/setting down does not count as parking. Strictly speaking neither does waiting, but that's pushing it.


Dan H said...

There's an extra little tidbit about driving on the footpath: technically, a paved area that doesn't adjoin a public highway is not a footpath, so by default it is OK to ride a bike on one. This includes all those little back alleys leading between streets. Often these back alleys have a "no cycling" sign, which is the result of a Traffic Restriction Order banning cycling thereon.

OK, this is beginning to sound a bit subtle. What's the real difference? First, that unless there's a sign prohibiting you, it's OK to cycle along a paved area that isn't alongside a road. Second, that driving or riding along the footpath can earn you a Fixed Penalty Notice from a police officer, but breaching a TRO needs to go to the magistrates' court.

In Cambridge there are dozens of cases recorded a year of people cycling along alleys incorrectly being given FPN's for footpath cycling, and a handful for cases where the cyclist was within their rights (because there is no TRO for that alley).

The first of those is questionable: people who are breaking the law should be punished, but for the law they're breaking, not some trumped-up charge. The second is clearly out of line.

FlipC said...

A fair point, it comes down to that subtle definition of public highway that is reminiscent of the difference between parking and waiting.