Parking on pavements could be completely banned across England to help pedestrians, the Government has said.
The Department for Transport has announced a consultation into giving local authorities more power to punish drivers who block footpaths.
It says the move would make life easier for pedestrians but some motorists’ groups have warned a blanket ban could have unintended consequences.
Parking on pavements is already banned in London, where it is punishable by a £100 fine. It is also due to be outlawed in Scotland from 2021 but elsewhere in the UK only lorries are prohibited from stopping on pavements.
Other regulations which punish dangerous parking or causing unnecessary obstructions already exist but the DfT consultation is in response to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee which last year called for a nationwide blanket ban on parking on pavements.
The committee said that the “blight” of pavement parking put pedestrians in danger and disproportionately affected those with mobility or visual impairments. It also warned that the problem was so severe in some cases that people were afraid to leave their homes because they couldn’t use the pavements safely.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Vehicles parked on the pavement can cause very real difficulties for many pedestrians.
"That's why I am taking action to make pavements safer and I will be launching a consultation to find a long-term solution for this complex issue. This will look at a variety of options - including giving local authorities extended powers to crack down on this behaviour."
Huw Merriman, who chairs the transport committee, said there was "much to praise" in the DfT's response but said there needed to be a detailed timeframe after previous Government pledges to examine the issue had failed to make any progress.
Motoring groups have supported plans to fine drivers who cause a hazard for pedestrians but warned that a blanket ban was not the way forward.
The RAC’s head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Blocking pavements impacts most on those with disabilities and those pushing buggies and creates unnecessary danger for pedestrians. In short, nobody should be forced into stepping into the road to get around a vehicle that has taken up pavement space, so the Government is right to explore giving local authorities additional powers to enforce this types of selfish parking.
“However, outlawing pavement parking as a whole is more complex because not all streets in the UK are the same. For example, some drivers will put a tyre up the kerb on a narrow residential street to avoid restricting road access to other vehicles while still allowing plenty of space for pedestrian access. Therefore better guidance and a definition of what is and isn’t appropriate would be a more practical solution, rather than an outright ban.”
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: "We absolutely agree that people who park in an antisocial way should be penalised. Many drivers in narrow streets are tempted to partially park on the pavement so emergency services and refuse trucks can pass.
"An outright ban could lead to unintended consequences with parking chaos becoming more widespread. A better solution would be for councils to make a street-by-street assessment and where pavement parking could be allowed it be clearly marked and signed.”