Is Double Parking Illegal?

By Ronnie Lawson-Jones
25-02-2020
Depending on what side of the fence you are on, double parking is either a necessity or downright annoying. It really does depend on whether you’re doing it or it’s being done in your area. However, not too many people are clued up on the legalities of double parking.


As a van user, you may have some jobs on tight streets and you need the van to be close to the house to get things in and out quickly. Plus there’s the added threat of having your van robbed if it’s not being watched. Therefore, sometimes you feel that double parking is necessary if there are cars already on the other side of the road.

You’ve left enough space for cars and emergency vehicles so what’s the problem?

This blog explains the legalities behind double parking in the UK to help you drive and park your van safely.

What is double parking?

There are two kinds of double parking incidents. The first we will call ‘American double parking’ as it happens most often in America.

The second we shall dub as ‘British double parking’ and probably the most common type that our readers will have experienced considering we have a predominantly British audience.

Is double parking illegal?

The Government are usually ambiguous when it comes to driving laws which is open to interpretation and problems down the line if you ever encounter any enforcement officers if they’re in a bad mood. The legalities behind double parking are no exception.

Section 85 of the Traffic Management Act of 2004 states that double parking is illegal if no part of the car is within 50cm of the edge of the carriageway. This is pretty simple stuff in terms of American double parking - it is illegal.

However, and this is probably relevant to our British audience - double parking is legal for those carrying out construction work, collecting waste, undertaking road works, working on utilities such as sewage and water delivering goods, collecting goods and it is not reasonable to do this whilst parked elsewhere.

If you’re a tradesman with a van doing any of the above and you’ve left enough space for emergency vehicles then you’re all good. This is still in relation to the American style of double parking.

The British style of double parking is legal unless the van or car is parked on a kerb (parking on kerbs is illegal but that’s a whole different story) or adjacent to a footway, cycle track or verge and there’s enough space for cars and emergency services to get through.

So long as cars on both sides are on the road, within 50cm of the edge of the carriageway and not adjacent to footways, verges and cycle paths then there’s nothing illegal going on here as annoying as it may be to local residents.

But wait! Aren’t most roads next to a footway of some sort? Yes, unfortunately, that’s true, which means that places to double park legally in the UK are very hard to find making it practically illegal indirectly.

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