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.
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.
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.
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.