Free Parking Guide – What restrictions are there

We understand that parking can be frustrating, especially in busy towns and cities and finding a free parking spot can also be fraught with tension. Understanding parking restrictions is important for all road users, but especially when looking for free parking.

Everyone is looking for that free parking spot to park their pride and joy, without worrying that they are going to end up with a parking ticket.

Finding a free parking spot is much easier than you might think, it’s all about knowing where to look. It’s to be expected that you will have to walk a reasonable distance to a place that offers free parking as most town and city parking is run by councils where hourly charges apply.

Is free parking legal?

Of course free parking is legal. As long as you abide by the road restrictions and be courteous to local residents. It’s important to understand what parking restrictions mean and how to spot a free parking area from a restricted zone.

Single yellow lines

Single yellow lines – they are a common sight on many urban streets, but what do they mean, and can you park on them? Here, we will explain some of the common misconceptions of parking on yellow road markings, providing you with a clear understanding of their significance.

Can you park on a single yellow line?

Single yellow lines might look off-putting, but they simply mean that there are some parking restrictions, which are usually no parking between certain times of the day.

When you encounter a single yellow line painted on the edge of the road in the UK, it serves as a visual cue, indicating that parking on that particular stretch of road is regulated and subject to certain conditions. The restrictions are typically enforced during specified hours of the day, often outlined on nearby signage.

Understanding single yellow lines

To avoid potential fines or penalties, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with the regulations surrounding single yellow line parking in the UK. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Time Restrictions

Parking on a single yellow line is typically prohibited during specific hours of the day. The exact timings vary depending on the location and local council regulations. It’s essential to pay attention to nearby signage, which often displays the hours when parking is restricted.

2. Exceptions and Permitted Parking

In certain cases, there may be exceptions to the parking restrictions imposed by a single yellow line. Local authorities may grant special permissions, such as allowing blue badge holders or specific vehicles to park during restricted hours. Additionally, some areas may permit parking on single yellow lines during certain days or times, such as weekends or evenings. Again, it’s crucial to check the signage and local regulations to determine if any exceptions apply.

3. Loading and Unloading

One of the common exceptions to single yellow line parking restrictions is for loading and unloading purposes. However, the exact rules and duration permitted for loading and unloading can vary between different locations. Generally, drivers should aim to complete their loading or unloading activities promptly and move their vehicle away from the yellow line once finished.

Single yellow line restrictions can vary widely from place to place, so it’s important to read the sign before parking up.

Double yellow lines

A double yellow line consists of two continuous yellow lines painted on the road. These lines are parallel and run along the edge of the carriageway, typically indicating a clear and unambiguous parking restriction. Double yellow lines are used to manage traffic flow, prevent congestion, and ensure road safety.

Can you park on double yellow lines?

Double yellow lines are a little more clear cut, meaning there is not stopping or waiting at any time. Double yellow lines are not likely to be accompanied by a parking restriction sign as it is universal across all towns and cities (except London where the lines may be Red).

Parking on Double Yellow

Parking on a double yellow line is generally prohibited at all times. Unlike single yellow lines that may have specific time restrictions, double yellow lines indicate a strict no-parking zone. The only exceptions to this rule are if there are signs that specifically permit parking for blue badge holders or other designated purposes. It’s essential to look for any accompanying signs for precise information.

Deciphering the double yellow lines

The colour yellow on road markings serves as a universal caution sign. It signifies that drivers should exercise care and be aware of the parking restrictions in place. In the case of double yellow lines, the message is crystal clear: no parking, no waiting, and no loading or unloading of goods.

Understanding the implications of double yellow lines often necessitates paying attention to accompanying road signs. These signs provide additional information about the specific parking restrictions and any exceptions. Here are some common signs associated with double yellow lines:

  • Double Yellow Lines with an End Plate: This sign denotes the end of the restricted area, indicating where parking restrictions no longer apply.
  • Blue Badge Parking: Occasionally, you may see blue badge parking signs along with double yellow lines. These signs indicate that blue badge holders are permitted to park in that area for a specified duration.
  • Loading and Unloading: Some areas with double yellow lines may allow limited loading and unloading during specific hours. Look for signs that specify these regulations.

Legal implications of parking on double yellow line

Parking on a double yellow line can result in various legal consequences. Local authorities and law enforcement agencies enforce these regulations to discourage illegal parking practices and maintain order on the roads. It is important to understand the potential fines and penalties associated with parking on a double yellow line.

Fines and Penalties

Parking on a double yellow line can lead to receiving a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). The exact amount of the fine may vary depending on the local authority, but it is typically a significant sum. Ignoring or not paying the fine within the specified timeframe can result in further legal action and increased penalties.

Towing and Clamping

In addition to fines, parking on a double yellow line may also result in your vehicle being towed or clamped. This means additional expenses and inconvenience, as you will need to pay a release fee or penalty to have your vehicle returned.

Exceptions to the double yellow line rule

While the general rule prohibits parking on double yellow lines, there are exceptions to this regulation. It is essential to be aware of these exceptions to avoid unnecessary penalties.

Loading and Unloading

In certain cases, loading and unloading of goods or passengers are permitted on double yellow lines. However, it is crucial to adhere to the specific rules and time restrictions set by local authorities. Engaging in loading or unloading activities for an extended period or without valid reasons can still result in fines or penalties.

Blue Badge Holders

Blue badge holders, who are disabled or have mobility impairments, may be exempt from some parking regulations, including double yellow lines. However, it is important to consult local regulations and signage to understand the specific rules that apply.

What do red road lines mean?

These aren’t as common across the country, but can be found in some larger cities including London and Edinburgh. Single Red lines, similar to single Yellow lines, mean there are restrictions so you should look for a parking sign nearby to signify what the restrictions are.

Double red lines mean no stopping or unloading at any time, however Blue Badge holders can stop and set down passengers briefly, providing they are displaying a Blue Badge in full view.

What does single white line parking mean?

Single White lines painted on the outside of the lane can mean two things; parking is legal or to signify that there is no pavement. If the White line is found on a residential street and there is a pavement, then parking there is legal and safe.

Can you park in white marked bays?

White marked parking bays, usually painted on residential roads, mean there are parking restrictions. These restrictions can usually be found on a nearby sign and restrictions are not universal, so always double check before leaving your car.

Parking waiting restrictions

Parking waiting restrictions are usually outlined on a nearby sign. The most common restriction is no parking between 8am and 6pm, meaning residents can park outside of their homes for free outside of these hours. This is usually to restrict commuters from parking near to town and city centres.

Zig zag lines

Zig zag lines are used to indicate that parking is prohibited in certain areas, such as near schools, hospitals, and fire stations. This is to help keep these areas clear for pedestrians and emergency vehicles. If you park in a zig zag zone, you will be issued a penalty charge notice.

There are a few exceptions to the rule against parking in zig zag zones. For example, you may be able to park in a zig zag zone if you have a disabled parking badge. You may also be able to park in a zig zag zone for a short period of time, such as to drop off or pick up passengers. However, you should always check the signs in the area to make sure that you are allowed to park.

Here are some of the places where you can find zig zag lines:

  • Near schools
  • Near hospitals
  • Near fire stations
  • Near ambulance stations
  • Near police stations
  • Near bus stops
  • Near railway stations
  • Near pedestrian crossings
  • Near traffic lights

If you are unsure whether or not you can park in a zig zag zone, it is always best to err on the side of caution and find a different place to park.

On-street parking restrictions

If you are utilising a free parking spot that is on-street, there are regulations as to how you can park your car. Whilst some of these are not legal requirements, they do make it safe for yourself as well as other road users.

  • You must not park against the flow of traffic
  • Fog Lights and headlights must be switched off when parked
  • The handbrake must be applied
  • Check before opening doors into traffic
  • Allow children to exit via the pavement

There are some legal parking restrictions that are outlined in the Highway Code that are important to know about so you can prevent a parking ticket. You must not park:

  • On a cycle track
  • In a taxi bay
  • On or near a pedestrian crossing (zig zag lines)
  • Red or double Yellow lines
  • An Urban Clearway during operational hours
  • A carriageway or hard shoulder

When parking in residential areas, you must not park:

  • At a bus stop
  • Near a school entrance
  • Where you obstruct emergency vehicles
  • Within 10 metres of a junction
  • On or near the brow of a hill
  • On a bend
  • Where you obstruct entrance to a property
  • On a lowered kerb (designed for wheelchair users)

Understanding these restrictions means you are safe in the knowledge that when you find a free parking spot, you aren’t likely to end up with a parking ticket.

Always check for any newly installed parking restriction signage before leaving your vehicle.

Information was last updated on October 11th, 2023