|The Leader - Tuesday 31 March, 2009
Footpath parking deplored
Footpath parking deplored
31/03/2008 10:55:03 AM
MOTORISTS who park beyond the entrance to driveways or on council land are flouting three different laws.
The practice, illegal under the Australian Road Rules, endangers lives by forcing pedestrians on to the road.
The issue, which, for many years, has drawn the ire of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, was implicated in the death of a five-year-old Sydney boy crushed by a rubbish truck almost a year ago.
Ray Lawson of Gymea Bay recently contacted the Leader to complain about motorists parking on the footpath in Forest Road, Miranda, between Wonga and Alkaringa roads.
"For some reason local residents seem to think the footpath is a parking lot," he said.
"Residents walking in the evenings or mornings are forced to go onto the roadway to get past. With the volume of traffic using Forest Road to bypass President Avenue from Gymea Bay Road North, it is a dangerous situation."
While it had been a concern for some years, Mr Lawson was prompted to complain to Sutherland Shire Council after he and another man watched a woman park her car on the footpath as they walked towards her.
When he pointed out that she had parked on a footpath, blocking their way, he said the woman told him off.
As chairman and CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby has campaigned for more than a decade for tougher penalties, arguing the current $79 fine is not enough to deter motorists.
He said it should be brought in line with stiffer penalties introduced by the State Government last year in relation to school zones, where a $132 fine and the loss of two demerit points applied.
He said children were especially vulnerable when forced onto the road while walking or riding their bikes, and the consequences could be "lethal".
Children under the age of 12 are legally permitted to ride their bicycles on the footpath and this is encouraged by the Pedestrian Council of Australia.
Mr Scruby said the RTA had taken no action on the matter since releasing a discussion paper, Footway Parking, in 2002.
While he said some motorists were unaware they were breaking the law, others simply didn't care.
"Most people say `It's my driveway' but it isn't their driveway, it's council land," he said.
Mr Scruby said residents should phone their local council to report offenders. If the council failed to act, he said digital photos of illegally parked cars should be taken and emailed to the council's general manager.
If there was no action, or the illegally parked car was in an especially dangerous location, police should be called.
A Sutherland Shire Council spokeswoman said ordinance officers "took a strong stance on illegal parking" and while it was impossible to catch everyone who parked across a footpath, staff investigated complaints and issued "warnings and penalty notices where appropriate".
Regarding Mr Lawson's complaint, she said a council officer attended the scene twice in the ensuing two weeks and issued a penalty notice and two warnings to cars parked illegally on the footpath and nature strip.
Kogarah Council's regulatory staff gave 185 warnings in the past year and issued an unknown number of infringement notices.
The council's environmental health and regulatory services manager Tony Pavlovic said the council took a hard line, especially where footpaths were completely blocked by cars or involved repeat offenders.
He said King Georges Road, the Princes Highway and Rocky Point Road were among the worst hot spots and were regularly patrolled because of the danger posed to pedestrians if forced to walk on such busy roads.
A Rockdale Council spokesman said inspectors were regularly sent to the Princes Highway and The Grand Parade to investigate complaints about illegally parked cars on footpaths, nature strips and across driveways.
He said officers issued about 40 penalty notices a week.
A Hurstville Council spokeswoman said while it did not receive many complaints from the public about the issue, its rangers regularly monitored roads for cars parked illegally across driveways or on verges and had, in the past, cracked down on illegal parking outside a school.
"If a car is parked illegally across a driveway or on a verge, residents are encouraged to contact council which will take immediate action," she said.
Road rules introduced in December 1999 made parking on footpaths illegal unless signposted otherwise. The rule states:
A driver must not stop on a bicycle path, footpath, shared path or dividing strip or nature strip adjacent to a length of road in a built-up area, unless a parking control sign permits the driver to stop at that place.
The Australian Road Rules are federal laws but are administered by the State Government, making them the responsibility of the RTA.
Local councils are primarily responsible for issuing parking infringement notices, but police can also book motorists who break the law.
Do motorists park illegally in your street?