ON YER BIKE - By Andy Chivers

WHEN compared to other scourges of society, pavement parking may seem a relatively minor misdemeanour. Certainly, drivers usually have a justification.

One I asked this week said that unless he parked on the pavement, the buses wouldn’t be able to get through.

This is the irony of pavement parking – it is a considerate act done with the good intention of minimising inconvenience to others – but they are thinking of fellow road users rather than the people on the pavement.

Some will explain that they are only going to be there for five minutes or that there is plenty of room on the pavement so there is no harm.

Most of the time of course, no harm does follow – the chance of wheelchair or pushchair users, or even someone who is blind or visually impaired coming by is quite low, and many pavements are wide enough to cope.

But every driver who parks on the pavement ‘safely’ legitimises other drivers who think ‘this is how people do things round here, it is obviously okay for me to do the same’ and blocks a pavement so that people have to step into the road to get round.

The effect is to extend the domain of the motor vehicle to anywhere they want. By doing this they are saying de facto that it is unacceptable to have to walk for a minute or so from a parking space to where they are going.

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You can sympathise with the delivery van driver rushing to complete their rounds, and the builder unloading bricks and timber, but for most people parking 50 metres away would not be a hardship.

London has legislation which prohibits pavement parking but this doesn’t apply to the rest of the country.

Look at the Highway Code and you will find two sections, one using the words ‘must not’ for London and the other ‘should not’ for the rest of the country. People forgive drivers parking on the pavement because in the same situation they would do the same.

A person riding a bike on the pavement is not given the same leniency, instead they are seen as another example of the lawless nature of bike riders. Cyclox funds the printing of ‘Rights and Responsibilities’ leaflets which are given out with every bike sold in Oxford.

It says: “You must not cycle on a pavement. You could be fined if you do”, so our position is clear.

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Luckily our Government has recognised that pavement parking is a problem nationally and set up an inquiry. In November Cyclox heard from Jesse Norman, minister for transport, that the report would be completed by the end of 2018.

The end of 2018 has been and gone, and admittedly the Government has been somewhat distracted of late, but we will chase down the report.

If you see your local councillor do ask them to request a copy. Meanwhile, whilst we wait, we should keep reporting local infractions and encourage local enforcement.