Rights of Passage - Parking on paths may be allowed

The Daily Telegraph

Wednesday 4 September 2002

By MARK SKELSEY City Reporter

MOTORISTS would be allowed to park on footpaths under radical new suggestions in a Roads and Traffic Authority discussion paper.

The new rules would apply in inner-city suburbs where it is-difficult to find legitimate street parking spots and could help ease traffic flow through some thoroughfares, according to the discussion paper.

Parking on footpaths has been prohibited since 1999. It carries a $63 fine, although many councils fail to enforce this because of concerns about a resident backlash.

Many inner-city suburbs - subdivided in the 19th century before cars were commonplace - and also new suburban estates, have narrow streets where vehicles park with two wheels on the path and two on the road.

The discussion paper, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, says footpath parking could be allowed in "specifically defined" circumstances if there is a deficiency of on-street parking - a major problem in the inner city.

It says it could also be introduced to some thoroughfares to improve traffic flow. Footpath parking could be allowed if a minimum "residual footway" width is left for pedestrians and also sufficient space on the road for emergency vehicles.

If the footpath is signposted "no bicycles", the residual footway width would be 1.5m. Children under 12 are currently allowed to ride on footpaths.

If this provision became law, councils could come under pressure to forbid- children and their bicycles from using narrow footpaths to give space for parking.

If bicycles are allowed to continue using the footpath, then at least 2m "residual width" would have to be left on the footpath between the car and the property boundary.

If the discussion paper becomes State Government policy, some areas could be declared where footpath parking is allowed and others declared where it is banned.

Fines could be increased where footpath parking remains banned. Pedestrian Council of Australian chairman Harold Scruby expressed concern about the scheme.

"Once you allow the car to encroach on the footpath you get a Paris or Rome environment where walking is impossible and the cars have taken over," he said.

"If you only got 2m in space to walk on a footpath, are people going to want to walk? It doesn't create that amenity for people to go walking.

He said the proposals could result in concrete footpaths and grass verges being damaged or destroyed by the weight of vehicles.