Motor vehicles have no place on the pavement

Publication date 4.11.2021 10.07
News item

Motor-driven vehicles often stop and even park on pavements and cycleways, where they have no place to be. This might be for reasons of convenience, laziness, ignorance of the rules or insufficient stopping or parking places

Under the Road Traffic Act, parking does not mean stopping a vehicle for short stays for the purposes of loading or unloading. This is stopping not parking.

“For example, a vehicle may stop for short-term loading or unloading in an area covered by a parking prohibited traffic sign when this is a matter of actually handling loads and not just, for example, delivering a small package. If stopping on a road is allowed, stopping on the pavement or cycleway for short-term loading or unloading is not allowed,” says Chief Superintendent Heikki Kallio at the National Police Board.

The police would like to point out that vehicles may stop and park only on those parts of the road where a vehicle may otherwise drive. 

“Motor-driven vehicles (except for mopeds) may not stop or park on the pavement or cycleway because a motor-driven vehicle may not drive on the pavement or cycleways,” Kallio reminds us.

What are compelling reasons to stop?

Exceptionally, a motor-driven vehicle may, for a compelling reason, stop for a short stay on a pavement or cycleway if there is no other suitable place available nearby.

When assessing a compelling reason, it should be remembered that the exception is intended for such loads (whether goods or people) which simply cannot be loaded or unloaded at another suitable place.

Kallio says that this may include picking up or setting down a person with impaired mobility or collecting or delivering a grand piano, for example. 

On the other hand, food couriers, delivery van drivers, property maintenance or other similar operators do not as a rule have a valid reason to stop on the pavement because the load they are carrying is light or small enough as to not normally require stopping on pavement or cycleway for loading or unloading purposes. They should walk further or find a legal stopping or even parking place.

Stopping and parking prohibitions

It is prohibited to stop or park a vehicle on, for example:

- pavements, cycleways and cycle lanes.

- pedestrian crossings or road junctions and a distance of five metres before these.

- bus lanes and roundabouts.

Despite the prohibition, it is allowed for:

- vehicles to stop before a mandatory traffic barrier, when giving way or because of an emergency.

- a cycle, light e-vehicle or moped to stop or park on a pavement and cycleway.

- another vehicle to stop on a pavement cycleway subject to certain conditions.

Conditions under which a vehicle other than a cycle, light e-vehicle or moped may stop on the pavement or cycleway:

- There must be a compelling reason for stopping such as traffic arrangements preventing stopping at a stopping place or the load is of such a size or nature that the vehicle cannot stop elsewhere.

- The reason for stopping must be getting into or out of the vehicle or loading or unloading. Stopping is justified with large or heavy loads, but not for transporting light goods that can be carried by hand. 

- Stopping is brief, which means for a maximum of 5-10 minutes.

- Stopping involves clearly visible activities, which relate directly to stopping. These include picking up and setting down passengers, actions involving unloading, loading and securing loads. Indirect actions related to stopping such as, for example, signing for, paying for, waiting for and fetching a load are not direct measures.

- There is no other suitable place for stopping near a stopping place. For example, picking up a person with impaired mobility on the pavement could be justified if there is not a more suitable place nearby.

- Stopping must not inconvenience passage on the pavement or cycleway. For example, leaving a gap of one metre between the vehicle and the building is considered as being sufficient to safeguard a road user’s possibilities to pass the stopped vehicle. 

- Stopping must not totally prevent traffic on the pavement or cycleway, nor force pedestrians or cyclists to other parts of the road such as the carriageway. 

- The driver must remain near the vehicle and move it if required.

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