The final stage of the Transport (Scotland) Bill will be on the agenda for the Scottish Parliament today and tomorrow. It contains important provisions regarding pavement and double parking.
To date, the absurd absence of suitable regulations and meaningful enforcement has disadvantaged three groups – pedestrians (particularly the infirm or young), bus passengers, and cyclists – leading more people (including from these three groups) to use private cars.
This adds to congestion and pollution, which, in turn, increases public health-care costs and decreases productivity, both at individual and GDP level. Not to mention, the costs arising from pavements damaged by parked vehicles.
If ever there was a candidate area for legislation and modest investment to provide enforcement, this is surely it.
The broad thrust of the Bill clauses dealing with theses aspects is therefore welcome. However, a 20-minute loophole for loading and unloading of deliveries threatens to undermine the positive aspects of the Bill, despite contrary recommendations at the Committee stage. Surely, the Bill is not intended to subsidise Amazon and other Internet retailers who are the most regular culprits when it comes to pavement and double parking?
We should hold our MSPs responsible for changing this by pressing the Cabinet Secretary for Transport to put in stronger measures to control pavement and double parking by delivery vehicles. We should avoid introducing loopholes which are open to abuse and would make enforcement impossible in practice.
Also needed are sufficient national resources to enable Local Authorities to provide predictable and proportionate enforcement, alongside any public-education measures.
Without such funding, we may find we are left with the warm intentions of the legislation, but miss out on its actual benefits. I cannot imagine that anyone would be happy with that.