Resigning IAM Roadsmart membership.

I have recently resigned my membership to IAM Roadsmart (Insistute of Advanced Motorists), as I believe it is failing to live up to its claim to be a road safety charity. I have reproduced below the email conversation I have had with them to do so.

Initial email to IAM

In light of IAM Roadsmart’s decision to condone driving on pavements, I am resigning my membership. No organisation can credibly claim to care about road safety and endorse the dangerous behaviour of mounting a footway in order to park. Furthermore, the “local approach” touted by IAM Roadsmart requires an increase in sign clutter, creating even more distractions for drivers and taking up space in the very places identified as having a shortage of space. To support the banning of headphones for cyclists while failing to support a ban on pavement parking further undermines IAM Roadsmart’s credibility. Wearing headphones while cycling is bad idea, but deaths caused by cyclists are incredibly rare, while deaths caused by motorists are a daily occurrence – surely a focus on the greater harm should come first?

(Links: Condones driving on pavements; and calls for ban on cyclists wearing headphones in Highway Code)

IAM response:

Good Afternoon Nicoli, (sic)
Thank you for your email and I’m sorry you feel this way. I have actually got a statement from one of our policy makers regarding this so I am sending it to you to see if that might help. Please reply if you still wish to resign.
I regret that our comments on two recent issues have led you to feel the need to contact us. In all our policy work we seek to adopt a road safety position based on good research and in depth knowledge.
The story on headphones and cycling was based on research we had picked up from European sources and which we felt would be of interest to our members. It is an issue which can be divisive but one we felt, in this case, was worthy of repeating as it showed a consistent level of interest across the world. The story as submitted to the media includes a clear mention of the ESRA survey on which it is based and the size of the sample. It may be that the version you read in the media omitted this information but we have no control over that.
You can read more about the source here – and the survey here – (Although the survey we used was titled 2018 it was only published in October 2020).
In relation to pavement parking our position is well known and has been highlighted in several previous press releases ( and in our submissions on the legislation in England and in Scotland. I gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament on our views and also served on a Transport Scotland Working party to discuss the implementation of the new blanket ban in Scotland. It was during this process that I heard many examples from Scottish local authorities of the sort of problems they anticipated in terms of displaced parking. Transport Scotland continue to work of the detail of the regulations in partnership with a variety of interested organisations.
We have also supported proposals in Wales which stopped short of a blanket ban, but at all times have made it clear that we do not condone illegal parking on the pavement but wish to implement a system that is most likely to deal with the problem as it occurs. We are fully aware of the impact pavement blocking can have on pedestrians but firmly believe that a blanket ban does not target the selfish and persistent minority of drivers who cause the most problems.
If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Kind Regards,
Jeannette Crowe



The headphones and cycling story, I read on your website, not in the media, and my reaction to it is based largely on Neil Greig’s words as in the press release.

My main concern, though, is the implicit condoning of pavement parking. The only problem enabling enforcement of pavement parking is that it would be inconvenient for too many motorists. I work for a council’s parking team and we could take on enforcement of pavement parking the day the regulation enabling it came into effect. Introducing local restrictions in all the places we have problems would take significantly longer and cost much more. Saying “we do not condone illegal parking on the pavement” is meaningless when you are advocating against enabling enforcement.

Kind regards,

Neil Greig, IAM:

Good afternoon Nickoli
I understand that one of my colleagues has sent you some further information on our pavement parking position. I am afraid I don’t quite understand you argument as we have supported the creation of clear offences and powers for local enforcement authorities to deal with obstructive pavement parking. We do not condone or support it in any way. It is illegal, but the current legal definitions and chances of being caught have allowed it to flourish in many areas.
As we see it these powers would enable you to target the most persistent offenders causing the greatest problems for pedestrians. They would also avoid any unintended consequences from dispersing parking caused by a blanket ban. Cars and vans will not simply disappear just because they can no longer park right outside their owners homes. It is the broad brush approach we have a problem with not the prosecution of drivers who choose to block a pavement. We would have no problem supporting increased funding from the Dft to assist local councils in actually using any new powers.



I similarly do not understand your argument – you acknowledge that driving on the pavement is illegal and has become widespread due to lack of enforcement, yet you oppose bringing in a change of law that would make it much easier to carry out enforcement and would, in effect, legalise this dangerous practice. This isn’t just about obstruction, but that you cannot park on the pavement without driving on it, and vehicles should not be driven on pavements. Roadpeace research shows that about 42 pedestrians a year are killed on pavements (Roadpeace – pedestrian-pavement-deaths), and highlighted examples including a delivery driver killing a child on the pavement he mounted to park (Liverpool Echo).

Enabling widespread enforcement against pavement parking can be part of a culture change: making the space that is nominally provided as safe space for pedestrians actually be that safe space. It will inconvenience a large number of drivers who will need to find other places to park, but inconveniencing drivers is not a harm that matches the deaths of vulnerable pedestrians, and a reduction in the number of cars on the roads would benefit the environment reducing air pollution and congestion for those journeys that do need to be driven.

None of the options presented by the government are ideal, but you are backing the one that makes the least improvement on the current situation. We are capable of targeting enforcement in the areas with problems without the additional hurdles of having to wait for new restrictions and signage to be implemented – we already prioritise based on demand. We also would not need further funding from the DfT – we can implement enforcement with staff we currently have and if we need more, the enforcement will bring in sufficient revenue to cover the costs. This won’t be the case with more sign clutter.

Kind regards,