Weekly Poll – Pavement Parking Exemptions

Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 21 February 2022, we asked a question about pavement parking exemptions.


Question. Do you agree with the conditions that would allow local authorities to consider making certain streets exempt from the pavement parking ban?

  • Yes – 5% (49 respondents)
  • No – 95% (964 respondents)


We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.

Pavement Parking Ban

In 2019, the Scottish Parliament agreed to a ban on pavement parking, double parking and parking at dropped kerbs, with enforcement of the ban expected by 2023. The importance of the ban was highlighted by respondents who reflected on the dangers created by pavement parking, which can often result in disabled people being forced onto roads and into the path of oncoming traffic. Vehicles parked on pavements may also lead disabled people to find an alternative route or prevent access to goods and services by being unable to reach the destination.

“I have been prevented from getting to my destination due to vehicles parking on pavements. It is annoying and I feel at times people don’t give due consideration to disabled people.”

“I think lots of the time people don’t understand the difficulty of pavement parking and that for a lot of people it’s not always as simple as walking round the car (which in itself can be dangerous enough), but also having to turn around or reverse in a wheelchair to find a dropped kerb to then have to go past the car and keep going looking for another dropped kerb.”

“I have seen parents with buggies and small children have to walk on the roads, I have seen blind people beeped at because someone wanted them to move to park on the pavement, and personally, I have had to walk on the road to get passed people parking on pavements. It is selfish and dangerous for pedestrians.”

“Looking out my window now and I can see 2 cars parked on the pavement, it’s a short walk to my local shop and every time I make that journey, I have to walk on the road to avoid cars, it really is disgraceful.”

“Not only does this block access for wheelchair users and visually impaired people but also can be difficult for many others. I use a stick and it can be difficult to navigate.”

“Asking wheelchair users, parents with youngsters in prams and buggies to go onto a road to get past a vehicle parked on the pavement is putting their lives at risk.”

Pavement Exemptions

To prepare for the introduction of the pavement parking ban, the Scottish Government are consulting on the type of streets and pavements that can be exempt from the new law. Local authorities can consider granting exemptions for pavements that are wide enough to leave a 1.5 metre gap for pedestrians or to allow pavement parking where access for emergency vehicles is deemed problematic. An overwhelming 95% (964 respondents), do not agree with the conditions that would allow for certain streets and pavements to be exempt from the new law.

Pavement Width

When reflecting on the conditions for issuing an exemption based on pavements that are wide enough to leave a 1.5 metre gap, concerns were raised about how this distance could differ depending on the size of vehicle and how much of it is parked on the pavement. There are also variable factors, such as street furniture and overhanging hedges, which may reduce the width of the gap and prevent disabled people from safely accessing the pavement.

“How are they going to judge if there will be a 1.5 metre gap remaining? The size of cars can vary considerably, as can the point on the pavement that people park. If parking is allowed on some pavements or if it is left to the driver to judge if there is a big enough gap, there will always be some people who will chance their luck and park on unsuitable pavements then plead ignorance and insist that they thought they had left a 1.5 metre gap.”

“I feel you either ban pavement parking or accept it happens. Introducing an exemption of a 1.5 metre gap could exacerbate an already frustrating experience of pavement parking where hedges overlap the pavement. Where would the 1.5 metre measurement start in that case.”

“Even if you find the very rare pavement that would allow this gap, you will still find people ignoring the gap and blocking our way.”

Emergency Vehicle Access

Respondents raised significant concerns about the condition which allows pavement parking to continue if a street is deemed too narrow for emergency vehicles to pass through. Disabled people strongly suggested that in such instances, parking should be banned on one or both sides of the street, which would allow access for emergency vehicles, whilst also keeping pavements free from obstruction.

“A large number of narrow streets in cities etc. will end up with pavement parking allowed due to the need to allow emergency vehicles through – causing obstructions for disabled people as is currently the case. Unfortunately, these are likely to be the areas where disabled people currently have problems with access so it is unlikely that this change would benefit disabled people. Restricting this to one side of the road at most so that there is always a disabled friendly side would be of assistance.”

“If there is no place to park and leave room for emergency vehicles, then there is no place to park. This shouldn’t mean cars parking on pavements and being a danger to pedestrians, not to mention the damage they do to the surface of the pavement.”

“Regardless of pavement widths, if you can’t park on the road to leave room for emergency vehicles then you can’t park. Don’t allow pavement parking by exemption. As a wheelie I have had to tolerate years of my route being blocked by parked vehicles on the pavement. Now is the opportunity to level up and get this stopped.”

Universal Ban

The vast majority of respondents believed that in order for the ban to be effective, there must not be conditions in place that would allow local authorities to issue exemption orders for pavement parking to continue. Disabled people believed that exemptions would dilute the core principles of the ban, which may result in confusion and a lack of compliance.

“Keep our pavements clear. Wheelies need unobstructed pavements and too often our journeys are blocked by cars parked on pavements and over dropped kerbs. #NoExemptions.”

“Absolutely no exemptions. The ban is to stop the issues we have just now. Exemptions would dilute the measures.”

“If there’s going to be a pavement parking ban it should be total. We need to start reclaiming our spaces for people and move away from cars dominating the built environment.”

“If you exempt some pavements people will use it as an excuse to park anywhere. I struggle every day I go out in my wheelchair, and I’m fed up with taking my life in my hands each time I leave home.”

“I do not agree with exemptions for pavement parking, once you introduce exemptions, it makes it unclear as to where people can legally park on the pavement which will make it confusing, resulting in a greater number of people just parking on the pavement thinking that they can. This will only result in continued obstruction of the footpaths whether wide enough or not.”


Respondents stressed the need for local authorities to appropriately enforce the ban on pavement parking, whilst also limiting the number of exemptions. By doing so, this can contribute to the outcomes of related strategies and frameworks, including active travel, the route map to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in car kilometres by 2030 and 20-minute neighbourhoods.

“There is no point to legislation if there is a lack of resources to enforce it. On an ongoing basis, I have white vans parking in the disabled bay outside my house with no enforcement from the local council.”

“The ban must be properly enforced by councils, or it will be useless, and nothing will change. “

“As a wheelchair user, pavement parking has been a barrier to active travel for years. This is an opportunity to sort this, and we can’t miss this opportunity by giving out exemptions. Car needs to stop being king if we are going to deliver on our sustainable travel hierarchy and active travel goals.”

“Pavement parking needs eradicated without exemption. We need to keep our pavements clear and unobstructed to allow us to walk and wheel around our neighbourhoods including to the bus stops and shops. If we are serious about reducing car miles by 20% and 20 minute neighbourhoods then irresponsible and illegal parking needs tackled robustly. This ban is long overdue. No exemptions please.”

Engagement With Disabled People

it is essential that there is meaningful engagement with disabled people and Access Panels in the lead up to the introduction of the ban. Ongoing engagement can also help to measure its overall effectiveness in making pavements safer for disabled people.

“Giving local councils the right to make their own decisions regarding pavement parking will mean nothing changes, as councils rarely consult with disabled drivers and tend to favour the motorist. When can it ever be right to allow pavement parking which would mean disabled people and parents with prams/pushchairs are forced into the road – I believe it is never.”

“Assuming that local authorities consult fully with appropriate parties on all the locations they are considering and that this isn’t glossed over and lost in a huge list of generalities. This may require meetings between local authority Officers and the appropriate representatives.”

“We have waited a long time for this ban, so let’s get it right. To do so we need councils working closely with disabled people.”


An overwhelming 95% (964 respondents), do not agree with the conditions that would allow local authorities to consider making certain streets exempt from the pavement parking ban. Respondents reflected on the current dangers of pavement parking, which often results in disabled people being forced onto roads and into incoming traffic, whilst also restricting access to essential goods and services. Therefore, when reflecting on the criteria for pavement exemptions, concerns were raised about how the 1.5 metre gap can be accurately adhered to depending on variable factors such as the size of vehicle and surrounding street furniture. Significant concerns were also raised with regards to allowing pavement parking on streets which are deemed too narrow for emergency vehicles to pass through. In such cases, respondents suggested that parking should be banned on one or both sides of the street, which would allow access for emergency vehicles, whilst also keeping pavements free from obstruction. Respondents stressed there must be appropriate enforcement of the ban by local authorities, along with ongoing consultation with disabled people and Access Panels to measure the effectiveness of the ban.