Posted by: Gregory | April 3, 2015

Keeping The Footpath Clear


Wellington residents were delivered a copy of Our Wellington within the last week and we were disappointed to see this bit contained within. While it indicates that parking on the footpath is illegal, Wellington City Council has basically stated that it won’t be enforced outside of the CBD. This effectively says that motorists are more important than pedestrians, which is not a view that we share.

The law that governs this behaviour is the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004, for which Section 6.14 states:

6.14 Parking on footpaths or cycle paths

(1)A driver or person in charge of a vehicle must not stop, stand, or park the vehicle on a footpath or on a cycle path.

(2)Subclause (1) does not apply to cycles if a road controlling authority indicates otherwise by means of signs or markings or if it installs facilities for the parking, standing, or storage of cycles on a footpath or cycle path.

(3)Nothing in subclause (1) prevents a person from stopping, standing, or parking a cycle, mobility device, or wheeled recreational device on a footpath if doing so does not unreasonably obstruct any other user of the footpath.

No exceptions are made for narrow streets or for motorists of any particular need.

It’s easy to see the attraction of a “common sense” approach, but it should be obvious that pedestrian rights are being eroded, by council blessing. If the design of the street includes a wide footpath, why should a motorist be able to arbitrarily reduce that space to 1m width? Should pedestrians carry a tape measure to verify their inconvenience, which could only happen if the motorist left less than 1m clearance? In my day-to-day walking experience, whether it be with a dog, with my son in a buggy, with my partner, or with all three, clearance of 1m is already very narrow.

NZTA maintain a Pedestrian Planning and Design Guide. Chapter 14 (PDF) describes the requirements for footpaths. The following table provides a list of minimum footpath widths in various conditions.


With the minimum through route of 1.5m, oncoming pedestrians could share the footpath with a pram. Lowering that to 1m turns the footpath into a one-lane bridge scenario.

Legal, no, but does WCC care?

Legal, no, but does WCC care?

Would a parking warden specifically not ticket a car on the footpath that leaves 1m clearance and ticket a car that was under 1m? They’re both illegal, so why should 2cm or 5cm make a difference? Would some angry motorist make a legal complaint for those few centimetres? Given the public notice that council sent to everyone’s letterbox, would the angry motorist win? Unfortunately, angry motorists get better treatment than angry pedestrians in a lot of cases.

It’s worth noting that WCC has changed their policy of reporting parking violations. Email or Fixit requests are no longer accepted. Only reports by phone are dealt with. I can understand that reports sent electronically contain stale information and could end up wasting warden time if the car has already moved on, but I prefer the convenience of a photo and an email. Either way, I firmly believe that tolerating bad behaviour is the same thing as encouraging it. I’ll continue to complain every time I see something like this.



  1. But what about parking on grass berms slightly encroaching on the footpath? Very popular in Churton Park!

    • If the car is in your way, complain. If it blocks your view for a safe crossing, complain. If it makes your walk less pleasant, complain. You have rights as a pedestrian and you shouldn’t give them away.

  2. Dont let us forget that Under Footpaths and Channels the Local Government Act S 331(2) requires ” the Council shall ensure that reasonable and adequate provision is made for the kerb and channel of any footpath or part thereof to be formed or reformed so as to permit safe and easy passage from kerb to kerb of any mechanical conveyance normally and lawfully used by a disabled person”

    Obviously a mechanical conveyance cannot always pass a parked car on a footpath if there is no cut down kerb that provides ‘safe and easy passage’ nearby. There are more wheelchair users choosing to live on hills where they have good access route to a bus stop providing it is not blocked by a vehicle or waste-bin.

  3. […] long ago, I took a stab at the issue of Wellington City Council forgiving/ignoring/encouraging cars parked on suburban footpaths. Coincidental to that, The Wellingtonian ran an article and an editorial on the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: