What is the problem?

    Parking on footpaths is becoming more prevalent creating safety risks for footpath users who must go into the road to get around the parked cars. 

    When cars park on the street in narrow, winding roads, this causes access problems for emergency vehicles, waste operators and delivery vehicles. Property has been damaged because of fire emergency vehicles not being able to reach a burning property. 

    What does the law say?

    Nationally, under the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 (6.14), a driver or person in charge of a vehicle must not stop, stand or park the vehicle on a footpath. Parking on footpaths is, and has been for 17 years, an offence.

    Section 128 E (1) (a) Land Transport Act 1998 provides Parking Wardens (Officers) with discretion (“may enforce”) in the enforcement of stationary vehicle offences. 

    What was the Council position?

    At a Council meeting on 22 September 2005 the Strategy and Policy Committee agreed to guidelines to specifically target no footpath parking in the central area and suburban centres (as defined by the District Plan) and agreed that outside of these two areas, a ‘reasonable footpath space’ must be available for pedestrian thoroughfare. The enforcement practice was to allow one metre. 

    The Committee also agreed to no footpath parking by trucks or other large vehicles. The Committee noted that for some exceptional cases, reasonable judgement by both drivers and enforcement officers will be required, and noting that, at all times, parking on the footpath is an offence.

    What’s changed since 2005?

    • Car ownership rates have not decreased but the City population has increased resulting in more vehicles parking in the city
    • Popular vehicle models are typically longer or wider than the standard size parking space (5.5m long, width 2.5m). There are more trade vehicles operating in the city that require more street space[1].
    • More and more drivers are choosing to park their vehicles on footpaths – reasons for this include convenience, the desire to protect their vehicle from damage, and on narrow streets, wanting to ensure access is maintained on the road.
    • There are new types of users of footpaths, such as e-scooters and other types of micro-mobility, together with the population increase, this is adding to footpath congestion in some places. This in turn is causing more accessibility challenges and risks for footpath users.
    • Fire and Emergency New Zealand have reported increasing accessibility challenges across Wellington’s streets due to vehicles parked on both sides of narrow, winding streets. They have provided the Council with a list of problem streets.
    • The Council adopted a new Parking Policy in August 2020 that 
      1. prioritises the safe and efficient movement of people, 
      2. prioritises active and public transport over private vehicles and 
      3. introduced a parking space hierarchy to prioritise the use of public road space. 

    [1] Toyota Highlander, Ford Ranger 5.4-6.5m long

    What has the Council decided?

    On 22 April 2021, the Council has agreed to revoke the September 2005 parking on footpath guideline. This returns the ability for Parking Officers to apply judgement and some level of discretion on all cases of footpath parking that occur outside of the central area and a suburban centre and more closely follow the parking space hierarchy which prioritises the safe movement of people on footpaths over the parking of vehicles.  

    What does ‘to the parking wardens’ discretion’ mean? Will that create inconsistency?

    The Land Transport Act 1998 section 128 E (1)(a) provides Parking Wardens (Officers) the powers to enforce stationary vehicle offences (illegal parking). The legislation wording says Parking Wardens may enforce....... Parking Officers are trained and experienced to apply good judgement based on the specific situation that they encounter.

    No, following the Council decision to revoke the current footpath parking guideline, we will be updating the Parking Officer Enforcement Manual that guides the day-to-day Parking officer activity.

    What if there is an event on, and nowhere else to park?

    All public events, particularly large ones or those involving road closures, must produce a traffic management plan that includes consideration of parking. For Council events, we always provide information on how to attend an event using other forms of transport and Greater Wellington Regional Council are responsive to putting on additional public transport services for big events. 

    If you are unable to get to an event by active or public transport there are off-street parking buildings available in the central city.  

    Does this include parking on grass areas?

    It is currently an offence under the traffic bylaw to park on the grass/berm and this is not proposed to change. Parking on the grass/berm causes damage and creates access issues, such as blocking sightlines so people can safely cross the road or manoeuvre in or out of a driveway/intersection.

    Why have a consultation when the footpath parking will be implemented regardless?

    The Council is consulting on a proposed new traffic bylaw and encourages people to have their say.

    The Council decision on footpath parking guidelines is not part of the traffic bylaw. Nationally, under the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 (6.14), a driver or person in charge of a vehicle must not stop, stand or park the vehicle on a footpath. Parking on footpaths is, and has been for 17 years, an offence. 

    This is an internal enforcement practice decision of a stationary vehicle offence under national legislation that the Council does not have to publicly consult on.

    What next? How can I provide feedback?

    The Council has not consulted on whether to revoke the September 2005 footpath parking guideline. This is an internal enforcement practice decision of a stationary vehicle offence under national legislation. 

    However, we are seeking suggestions on

    • how could the Council best manage pedestrian and vehicle access and parking on narrow streets where parking on the footpath has been commonplace?   

    The submission period will open to the public on 10 May 2021 and close on Friday 11 June 2021

    This will be followed by at least a 3-month period of education and awareness-raising before illegally parked vehicles will be ticketed – except in those situations where the parking is considered inconsiderate or a hazard to road-users (as is the current practice) or we are responding to a public complaint.

    Will this change further congest narrow roads and make it harder to find a parking space?

    Yes, until there is a reduction in private car ownership and private vehicle use. The Council will need to balance the safety of footpath users with the need to keep narrow roads accessible to motor vehicles, especially emergency and service vehicles.  

    On narrow streets where emergency vehicles and access by service/delivery vehicles is compromised and footpath parking is currently prevalent the Council could:

    • install broken yellow lines to direct people not to park on one or both sides of the road
    • install signs reminding drivers that it is an offence to park of the footpath
    • make some parts of a street one-way or prioritise traffic movement in one direction to ensure safe movement of vehicles
    • remove footpaths that do not provide access to properties or other services where there remains an adequate and suitable footpath on the opposite side of the road
    • add new parking management, such as time restrictions or designated parking, in nearby locations to ensure certain users have priority parking (in line with the parking space hierarchy)
    • work with Greater Wellington Regional Council to improve public transport options to popular destinations with limited off-street or safe on-street parking – such as a seasonal weekend “beach” bus