So you drive on the left, but where do you park?

The British drive on the left, as Americans and Europeans know, making driving there daunting for right-side drivers. But driving on the opposite side is only the beginning of troubles for Americans visiting Britain.

One big challenge for Americans is the size of the roads.  We’re used to wide roads of consistent width and free from obstacles.  British roads are often narrow, with parked cars on both sides, leaving only enough room for one car to pass at a time.  Oncoming cars regularly cross the center line in order to go around parked cars and the driver must be prepared for this to happen without warning.

Cars park on sidewalks (which the British call pavements), in travel lanes, and sometimes a little of both.  Sometimes parking becomes so haphazard that the local government marks individual spaces, but this is more the exception than the rule.

But when spaces are marked, you can clearly see how different the British perception is of where it’s ok to park.  You can see in the photo that the official outlined spaces actually take up most of the travel lane!

Notice also that the cars are all parked against the flow of traffic.  That’s usually illegal in the USA but perfectly legal everywhere in Britain.  Parking is hard enough in Britain already, so they don’t need to put another restriction on it!

I hope this will be the first of a series on differences between British and American culture.

parking space in road

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