Alastair Dalton: Some surprises in the rules for double yellow lines

Parking is getting harder with so many delivery trucks around, , so apparently the rules are changing. Pictrue: Jon Savage
Parking is getting harder with so many delivery trucks around, , so apparently the rules are changing. Pictrue: Jon Savage
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How often have you seen a delivery van being parked on double yellow lines, or even on the pavement?

It turns out that in at least some areas of Scotland, the driver may have committed no offence.

While many of us enjoy the convenience of online shopping, this is generating extra traffic from delivery vehicles - and more pressure on parking in residential areas.

Some van drivers claim they are on such tight schedules they do not have time to find another parking space, and just have to pull in anywhere they can find close to the delivery address.

Here’s the surprise - Scotland’s two biggest cities told me this week that delivery vehicles get ten minutes’ grace on double yellow lines.

Edinburgh and Glasgow city councils said this applies to “marked goods vehicles” where there are “No waiting” signs, but not in “No waiting, No loading” zones.

That would appear to be a contradiction in terms, devaluing the significance of double yellows.

Many streets outside people’s homes are likely to be in the former category - if you can find a sign at all. On the face of it, that gives thoughtless or inconsiderate van drivers free reign.

However, if you look closely, you’ll see double yellows are there for a reason, especially around junctions, to help pedestrians cross safely without vehicles blocking their view.

The grace period has followed the decriminalising of parking in many parts of the country, where local authorities - rather than traffic wardens or police - are now responsible for enforcement. However. I’m told that vehicles causing a danger or obstruction should still be reported to the police.

Then there’s pavement parking, which has still to be made illegal in Scotland, four years on from the first attempt by an MSP to get it on the statute book.

The move has been mired in a legislative quagmire, including over whether Holyrood has powers in this area, and a second backbench attempt to get the measure approved ran out of time before the election in May.

A further area of concern is vehicles blocking dropped kerbs. These pavement features may be invisible to all but those who use them - including many drivers.

But if you’re in a wheelchair, pushing a pram or pushchair, or supervising a young child on a bike or scooter, you’ll appreciate the importance of these little ramps.

One such wheelchair user is 84-year-old John Shaw, from Fife, who has lodged a petition at the Scottish Parliament to ban parking beside them.

He said he had great difficulty crossing roads because of parked cars blocking dropped kerbs.

Mr Shaw also posed the question as to why it was not already illegal north of the Border, when it is in England.

Ministers have now pledged to take a lead with a new law “to promote responsible parking for all”, that also takes account of the “complexities of implementation and enforcement”. I’m told a public consultation is being prepared and is to be completed by March.

The agreed measures will form part of a transport bill “later in the Parliament” - but that means they could be another four years away.

However, perhaps the publicity the consultation should generate will start doing the long-anticipated new law’s work for it - sending a clear signal to drivers about unacceptable parking, even before miscreants can be prosecuted.