Parking and Loading/Unloading Restrictions
By its very nature, being a courier involves delivering parcels, items, or goods to customers, wherever that customer happens to be geographically located. Often parking restrictions will not present you with any problem as there will be ample space nearby to park-up so that you can unload and make your delivery.
Sometimes, however, simply getting near to your customer can present a challenge, particularly in busy towns and cities. It is likely, that in order to get within striking distance of your target, you will need to park in areas not normally designated for parking. E.g. double-yellow lines.
Your challenge as a freelance courier comes in knowing where you can park to make deliveries, and where you can’t. Knowledge of local parking restrictions is invaluable.
Loading and Unloading
Firstly, we need to understand the definition of loading, or unloading from the perspective of the authorities. Loading, or unloading is a continuous process whereby the vehicle concerned needs to be moved as soon as the process is complete. It must be clearly evident that loading and unloading, or that paperwork checking is taking place. Stopping for a chat and a brew will incur the wrath of the local parking warden, otherwise known as a Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO).
A simple good habit to adopt when parking in an area where you think there might be restrictions (e.g. yellow lines in evidence), but you are not exactly sure on what those restrictions might be is to actively search out relevant signage in the area to seek clarification.
Always work with the assumption that you are being watched. CEO’s are highly mobile and if you cannot see one in the area right now, it doesn’t mean that one won’t appear within the next few minutes. Additionally, many parking restrictions these days are enforced via the use of cameras and CCTV, without the need for human intervention. Your first knowledge that you have breached parking rules is when a penalty charge notice is pushed through your letterbox.
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Parking Attendant!
Having said all this, please don’t assume that trying to make deliveries involves a game of cat and mouse with the local CEO’s. It doesn’t! Often the very best source of information can be provided to you by exactly these people, so if you do see a warden, and you’re not sure what the restrictions are, ask! It involves very little effort and can yield some extremely useful information.
Local knowledge can be especially useful as loading and unloading restrictions can vary from town to town and depending upon the time of day. For example, if you were to stop to unload in a designated loading bay. Generally, your time might be limited to 20 minutes. However, in some areas, a rule may be applied whereby if you are in a van that is not sign-written, this time limit may be reduced to just 5 minutes. Such arbitrary rules will not appear on any local signage, but a quick conversation with a local parking attendant will quickly help you to steer you clear of any future penalties.
Areas to Avoid
As a parcel delivery driver, you may get away with parking in some locations that the general populous won’t. But, there are some areas that are best avoided at all times. For example:
- A pedestrian crossing including the area marked by the zig-zag lines.
- School keep-clear zig-zag yellow lines.
- Parking bays designated for disabled drivers.
- On a road with double white lines marked in the centre
- A clearway during its hours of operation (in London many bus stops and taxi ranks are clearways from 07:00–19:00 hours)
- Mandatory cycle lanes (indicated by a solid line)
- Where the vehicle would cause an obstruction. E.g. Within 10 metres of a junction, or be in a dangerous position.
Additionally, in London and Birmingham, there are designated ‘Red Routes‘. These areas have similar road markings to the conventional yellow road marking. it’s just that they are red instead. Stopping, parking and loading and unloading are banned on red routes, except in a loading box or on a single red line (at permitted times). Double red lines apply at all times. Red lines around a loading box mean it is available part of the day and white lines mean it is available all day.
Sometimes you will find kerb markers that run perpendicular to the run of the kerb itself, or any adjacent yellow lines. They are sometimes referred to as ‘pips’ or ‘blips’.
Single yellow pips on the kerb mean that loading is not allowed during the times shown on the white sign next to the restriction. (Restrictions are more than likely to be the peak day periods). The restricted area is only between the end pips.
Please note these restricted areas are automatic ticket zones and rich pickings for wardens.
Single Yellow Pip
This means that loading is restricted at certain times, as shown on a white plate. Even Blue Badge holders with badges and time clocks are not allowed to park where there are loading restrictions in force.
Double Yellow Pips
This means there is no loading at any time.
What to do if you are issued with a Ticket
If you return to your vehicle and are greeted by a splash of colour on your windscreen, as per the above pictures, there are a number of things for you to consider:
- Firstly, if the CEO is still on the scene, don’t remonstrate, or argue with them. It will not get them to cancel the ticket.
- Secondly, if the CEO is around and you were loading/unloading, ask them to make a note of this fact. It may help you with any future appeal.
- Whether the warden is in the vicinity, or not, the next thing to check is the ticket itself. If you look at the photographs above, they look very similar, but they are not. In the picture with the three tickets, the vehicle has been issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) (a few, in fact!) However, the vehicle with the single ticket has copped for a Parking Notice. It has been dressed up to look like a PCN, which is a deliberate ploy to try to give it more credence in the eyes of the receiver, but it is not the same.
Let’s examine the differences between the two in the table below, but before we do, please only entertain the idea of appealing unfairly issued notices. In the cold light of day, if you know you were in the wrong and the charge is not exorbitant, it will save a lot of time and effort (not-least your own) to just pay-up and to do so quickly. Often, there is a discount applied if notices are settled early. It is usual to be advised that there is a certain time limit to pay a notice, but if you settle within 14 days (for example), the fee/fine is reduced, sometimes by up to half.
Whether you have been issued with a PCN, or a parking charge, if you feel that it is unfair, you can appeal. Guidance for the appeals procedure to follow will be provided with the ticket itself.
At the time that you receive the ticket, if there is even a slight chance that you may appeal, you must act right away. Start by gathering as much evidence as possible at the scene. Take pictures of your vehicle in it’s parked position and in relation to any road markings, or signage. Also take close up pictures of parking signage so that you can refer to it at a later date. This action alone may force you to reconsider the merits of lodging an appeal in the first place.
Things that may be useful to you at this stage will be evidence of poor communication of parking restrictions. E.g. If yellow lines are worn and faded, or if signage has been overgrown by foliage.
Make a note of the time and cross-reference that to times specified on any signage.
If you are using a hand-held PDA for your deliveries, it will probably be equipped with gps and will keep a record of the time that you were parked, before moving off again. By contacting the equipment provider, they may be able to provide you with supporting evidence.
If you do decide to appeal a parking notice, do not pay it first. It is much more difficult to reclaim monies already paid.
For further information, regarding the more general rules around parking and parking restrictions, the good folk at Go Compare have recently produced a very handy guide, which can be seen by clicking on the link below: