Car parking is one of the most contentious issues in cities, but councils cannot condone illegality

— There are other solutions rather than local Government illegally endorsing illegal parking.

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: A council turning a bit of a blind eye to something is one thing, but anybody interested in road safety, disability access or reducing the impact of car use in urban areas should be fighting tooth and nail against Dublin City Council endorsing illegal footpath parking.

It’s not something we should be turning a blind eye to anyway as illegal parking is directly linked to deaths in this country and others — from pedestrians getting crushed inside cars parked partly on a footpath when a motorist driving along hits the parked cars, to people on bicycles being killed when other motorists are “forced” to swing around parked cars.

On a daily basis illegal parking also has a serious impact on the ability of people to get around safely, independently and uninterrupted without having to walk onto the road. Especially children, less mobile older people, people in wheelchairs, people with sight issues, and mothers and fathers pushing prams. Illegal parking also regularly blocks emergency access.

This is a national issue — it will effect other areas of the country if Dublin City Council gets away with it. Everybody with interested should be writing to Dublin City Council’s CEO to complain.

In the UK, outside of London where footpath (pavement) parking is mostly legal, there’s a move by road safety, disability and active travel campaigners to fight for what we legally have. We need to fight for what we have already and for better enforcement, encouragement and design.

It seems like if the council follow through with their policy and make it official that not just as they endorsing criminal behaviour but they would be doing so illegally.

It is surreal that not long after the Road Safety Authority starts an advertising campain against parking on footpaths and cycle paths that a council could start to illegally endorse illegal parking just as long as there 2 metres left for pedestrians.

Not only is it likely illegal or acting beyond their powers for councils to try to draw a distinction between parking on a footpath with 2m space or less. This kind of ambiguity will make it harder to stop all sorts of illegal and dangerous parking.

Currently a load of motorists see no problem with driving up onto footpaths to illegally park in city, town or village centres simply because they can do it at home. If they can do it and are encouraged to do it on their own street, then why wouldn’t they do it elsewhere?

If it’s allowed to fester, the issue will only get worse as BusConnects and cycle routes are built — if parking on footpaths and cycle paths becomes (officially) acceptable then make no mistake that the issue will get worse.

There are alternatives approaches that councils should be acting on:

  • — Getting people to park legally in available spaces: While some streets and areas this is not a solution, it seems like a very large percentage of illegal parking isn’t down to a shortage or car parking. Often people park on footpaths outside houses with empty driveways or with free public parking spaces just a short walk away.
  • — As part of the above, offer residents information, parking permits for other streets, and even incentives if needed.
  • — Mark out parking spaces on the roadway: In many cases there’s ample space on the carriageway for cars to park and still allow emergency access once the parking is organised correctly (ie painted spaces out on one side of the road or the other or alternating from one side to the other ). This would also offer act as traffic calming.
  • — As part of the above, look at options such as reverse-in diagonal parking on suitable streets and even woonerf-like designs.
  • — And also, making some streets one-way (with contra-flow without lanes for cycling) to allow for car parking on the carriageway rather footpaths. Done right, this would also act as traffic calming.
  • — As a last resort: Dig into very wide footpaths to make new parking bays. This should generally be reserved for helping residents with mobility issues to have parking nearer to their houses.

It’s easy to say forget about all of the above and just fine or clamp or remove illegally parked cars, but some balance is needed if we want to move from a country when illegal parking is tolerated to one where it’s the rare exception.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

4 Comments

  1. In the UK, it’s utterly horrendous what some streets have become due to people completely blocking footpaths. It absolutely will get worse here by officialdom, not just turning a blind eye, but actually making excuses for it. Not only is it illegal, it’s anti-social, it’s dangerous and seriously negatively impacts the lives of tens of thousands. Even those who themselves block footpaths with their cars, they’re also negatively affected by this anti-social behavior. Everyone suffers while this is allowed to go on.

  2. Good points, and there is definitely a slippery slope effect among drivers, where they see liberties being taken with no obvious consquences and don’t want to be the fool who misses out. I would be more keen on repurposing excessively wide footpaths though. Two metres is already a wider path than many busy streets have, and if pedestrian traffic is light, extra width on the footpath is just useless concrete. If nothing else, dig it up to create floral borders with bollards in them to prevent wild parking.

  3. 2 metres on a path will become 1 metre which will become half a metre which will become, “shure there’s enough room to squeeze by.”

  4. Perhaps we should state frequent offending locations re this? Just one example that has become an absolute laughing-stock, Norhside at Kilbarrack Road leading up to Mc Hughs Wine shop/Centra etc, coming in from coast road. There are bollards erected to protect cyclists. But Cyclists cant get inside them because the entrance to the bollards are almost always blocked by cars. But at the legitimate car parking spot jjust ahead of that sopt, cars are parked head-first into footpath even though the makings are for sideways only. This means cyclists have to go around them risking being hit by cars coming behind. Worse is when the idiotic drivers realize they have then to reverse out of that position and invariably into a cyclists path. Gardai pass by, notice this – do nothing, everyday. If we Phone either 999 or the local Garda station and they’l insist you physically go to the trouble of calling into a Garda Station and make a formal and specific complaint about a specific car. That’s designed to put us off.

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