Parking markings in UK
July 4, 2014 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Calling British readers pls - A highly specific question - about where parking is allowed on roads in the UK. Please see the photo here. That solid white line is approx 3 feet from the sidewalk. No signs (good or bad) anywhere in sight. No indication it might be a cycle lane or other special use. Can cars park on this road?
posted by Xhris to Travel & Transportation around England (11 answers total)
I would assume that is a cycle lane. Yes, it's not marked, yes it's too small really, but that is a typical UK cycle lane - unmarked and too small.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:34 AM on July 4, 2014

It is not a cycle lane, it is an edge line. You cannot park there unless there is a local variance.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:41 AM on July 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

I don't drive so can't cite the highway code but we have those sorts of lines around my parents' rural village and they're indicators of the edge of the road where there are no street lights, to prevent (theoretically) people driving off the road accidentally at night.

I don't know if they prevent parking across the board but given the size of some of the roads in my parents' village, I would imagine that anyone who did park there would greatly restrict the safe passage of cars.

You can find the highway code online if that is of any use.
posted by halcyonday at 7:46 AM on July 4, 2014

In your photo they've painted the line quite a way out from the kerb; this is often done for safety - to reduce the likelihood of drivers overtaking on that stretch of road. Unless it's marked as such somewhere along the route, and includes proper crossing points, it's not a cycle lane.

Basically there are no rules about whether or not you can park on one of those lines - the line, as DarlingBri says, is called an edge line. But I don't agree about the parking bit. As far as I'm aware, they give you no information about parking per se.

In most instances you can park on the line. If there's a pavement, and if you're not causing an obstruction or other danger, or blocking a driveway, it's usually fine to park.

If parking isn't allowed, it will normally be made explicit through signage (on lampposts), or it will be implied by the situation (e.g. if there's a lowered kerb for a driveway, or you're close to a junction, or the road isn't wide enough to park on without blocking the lane and so on - the same as a road without an edge line).
posted by pipeski at 8:20 AM on July 4, 2014

It looks like a fairly major road, so parking on it might not be the best form.
posted by scruss at 8:46 AM on July 4, 2014

If your question is "Do you think it would be OK for me to park my car here?" then I recommend looking somewhere else - simply on the basis that it looks like your car could be an unreasonable obstruction to other traffic. (Although the UK has many such stretches of older roads where the main stream of traffic is slowed by parked cars).

If your question is "Do you think it is right that I be fined for parking here?" then, on the basis of your photo alone, I'd say "No". If those are bike lanes then they are poorly signed. If they are edge markers then that should not, in itself, prohibit parking (at least not in versions of the highway code I searched). If the local council do not want you to park here then they should use yellow lines and clear sign-age.
posted by rongorongo at 9:51 AM on July 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is that the Lake District? Grasmere? It's either the Lakes or somewhere rather similar. It's got that 'national park' look to it to me.

They're edge lines and they're deliberately far from the kerb to make drivers think a little. They want people to drive away from a narrow kerb (lots of walkers some times of year, who sometimes spill into the road) and avoid overtaking on a busy, bendy road.

Probably not illegal to park there, but speaking as a regular Lakes visitor, a really bad idea. Don't park there.
posted by dowcrag at 10:22 AM on July 4, 2014

I seem to recall my driving instructor telling me that you can never cross a solid line. It's been a while, though, and I don't have a citation. To park there, you'd have to park wholly within the lane, which would likely be deemed an obstruction.
posted by Solomon at 11:00 AM on July 4, 2014

They want people to drive away from a narrow kerb

In the context of the Lakes or similar, it'll also assist visiting drivers from drive-on-the-right countries where the tendency will be to drift leftwards, and the low kerbs won't be enough to protect pedestrians. I think rongorongo's right that they don't convey parking restrictions in the absence of other signage (unlike yellow lines), and there's a decent discussion here.
posted by holgate at 11:11 AM on July 4, 2014

Many thanks all. Given the keywords 'edge line' I also found this opinion.
posted by Xhris at 12:05 PM on July 4, 2014

Further to previous answers; in the absence of specific signage, you mustn't park where there is a white solid centre line, on the zig-zag area adjacent to a pedestrian crossing, a taxi bay or cycle track/lane. You must also not park on the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency, on a bend, hill crest approach, entranceway, by a lowered kerb or close to a junction. There's a few more IIRC, but rather more esoteric.

Note, single yellow edge lines indicate time-based parking restrictions; look for further signage. Allowed bays will be marked in white. Double yellow lines are restricted at all times; a short yellow stripe on the kerb in addition means no loading/unloading either; that may be modified by specific signage, and usually applies to streets with shops on. In London, they may be single or double red lines (red routes) where you may not park, stop, unload or wait; single lines means the restriction is time based, double red is at all times.

Edge lines, as pictured, do not have specific restrictions applied; it's a fair distance from the kerb in this case to reduce the lane size to encourage cars away from the kerb, slow down, and not overtake. Note the long dashed centre line, which means there's a hazard nearby; restricted sightlines, nearby junction or lights etc, so avoid overtaking unless you can see it's clear to do so. As a general rule of thumb; the more paint on the road*, the more dangerous it is.

For example, solid white lines in the centre mean you must not cross them, such as to overtake (solid plus dashed controls the carriage facing the line, double solid white means both directions) - except when it is safe to do so, and you're passing a stationary or slow vehicle/cyclist/horse (under 10mph) or the like.

The most common sign you'll see on a main road similar to the one you posted to prevent parking is a clearway - at least one where the zone starts, and another as pictured when it ends, and you may not stop for any reason (including waiting and picking up passengers) unless it's an emergency or because of stationary traffic.

All of the above rules can be over-ridden at the instruction of a police officer, so if you're ever pulled over, do so at the first place it's safe to do so, even if it would be otherwise restricted.

THAT ALL SAID - under the road traffic act, you 'MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road.' Which is a massively vague clause that basically means you might get a parking fine pretty much anywhere, unless you're fully inside a marked bay in a car park or the like.

So while parking there in the absence of a clearway sign is not specifically illegal, it's still a fairly stupid place to park under the obstruction clause.

* a few rural areas have been experimenting with no road markings at all, even at crossroads and other junctions; it disconcerts drivers, they slow down and pay more attention, and actually reduces accidents.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:33 PM on July 4, 2014

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