Has parking in shared use footways been illegal since 1988?

15 Oct

When I was recently reading the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as one does), I noticed this interesting clause that makes it illegal to park on ‘cycle track’s, which incidentally includes shared use pavements. To quote:  “any person who, without lawful authority, drives or parks a motor vehicle wholly or partly on a cycle track is guilty of an offence” S:21). Their definition of a cycle track is any track that allows cycling and also a shared pedestrian/cycle route, but not one that allows any motorised vehicles.

I have marked the key elements in bold because for normal footways it if only illegal to ‘drive’ on them, not to be parked on one. The above appears to make it much easier to give someone a ticket for parking on a shared-use path for parking on a normal footway. At least one doesn’t have to worry about bicycles and parked cars!

This appears to mean that the police already have the powers to fine drivers for parking on share-use paths. I am a little cautious about my interpretation because no one seems to have picked up on this yet. My friendly local policeman was certainly unaware of the ruling, Living Streets don’t mention it in their guidance on combating pavement parking and nor to the cycle campaign groups. but is going to check and get back to me. If I am right then the following drivers are already committing an offense:

Car parked on a shared-use footway

Car parked on a shared-use footway

Update…

I have just been reading a useful post which defines the legal terms used for parts of the highway. It includes definitions of Cycle Track, Cycle Lane, Footpath and Footway and gives me more confidence that I am right.

They say that a Cycle track is ‘a route other than within the carriageway (e.g. on a footway adjacent to a carriageway, adjacent to a carriageway but separate from it and the footway, or a route completely separate from a highway – and which could be “permissive” or be a “right of way”). They quote the legal definition as being “a way constituting or comprised in a highway, being a way over which the public have the following, but no other, rights of way, that is to say, a right of way on pedal cycles (other than pedal cycles which are motor vehicles within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1972) with or without a right of way on foot [Section 329(1) Highways Act 1980]. The words in brackets were inserted by section 1 of the Cycle Tracks Act 1984.

And.. I have also noticed that the Highway Code – Rule 240 confirms it. It says you MUST NOT stop or park on … a cycle track.

A forum run for police specials seems to agree and suggests that the appropriate fine would be £30-£80.

Another update:

There seems to be some difference of opinion within the cycling world as to whether a Cycle Track can be along a pavement or whether they really more like footpaths and bridleways (ie routes not beside the highway). I have queries out with various organisations as to their interpretations of the law. I will keep you posted.

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