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The Shortest Double Yellow Line in the UK

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Traffic wardens won't get much money out of patrolling this area unless a family of rebellious leprechauns move in.
- An onlooker speaking to a Norwich Evening News journalist.

In the early 1920s, parking restrictions were introduced to UK roads for the first time. Prior to that, motorists were free to park wherever they fancied often causing obstruction, nuisance and endangering the lives of pedestrians. Over the years, various measures have been implemented in towns and cities to control parking, including payment meters, pay and display car parks, residents' permits and controlled parking zones.

There has long been a need to prevent parking in some areas, usually to ensure safety or prevent obstruction and congestion. Councils and highways agencies have appeared to favour the use of double yellow lines to prevent drivers of all types of vehicle from behaving irresponsibly. In the UK, a double yellow line means that parking is restricted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most drivers realise that if they park on such a line they run the risk of a hefty fine. They are effectively used to prevent drivers from parking or waiting in the area in which they are painted. One authority that uses them wherever it sees fit is Norwich City Council.

The Norwich Yellow Line Facts

On 3 July 2001, Norwich Evening News reported the sighting of a new length of 'double-yellows' that had been installed by council contractors. The new stretch of parking restrictions had been introduced on Rouen Road, in the heart of the city centre. While many would consider such an event hardly newsworthy, the story of the new yellow lines echoed around the country, consuming newspaper column inches and television air time.

The bright, fresh parallel stripes were just 45 inches long!

I know we are living in an age of smaller cars that are more environmentally friendly and economic but nobody's built one as small as 45 inches. It might be useful to prevent a golfing trolley being parked and might cause a few difficulties for ice cream carts but not much else.
-AA spokesman, Simon Woodings.

The media interest sparked many calls to the city council, who explained the reasons for installing the lines. A council spokeswoman confirmed that a number of areas had 'little lengths of double-yellow between specific parking restricted areas. There is often a gap between these zones and we put double-yellows in so as not to confuse drivers, particularly when parking in the city centre. In this case it is just between a one-hour coach park area and a restricted parking bay.'

Despite calls from local residents for sense to prevail, the council confirmed that the lines would not be removed.

Reducing the Restrictions

It appears that Norwich City Council have not altered their stance and continue to introduce shorter lengths of double yellow lines, undeterred. Eagle-eyed road users continue to report the findings of 'yellow peril' as it has become locally known, to the local press. On 12 August 2001, in an attempt to reduce their record further, Norwich City Council installed another new length in Theatre Street totalling a remarkable 24 inches and slashing their previous attempt by almost half.

To date, these are the discoveries in reverse order of length.

  • Recorder Road - 73 inches
  • St Stephen's - 63 inches
  • Rouen Road - 45 inches
  • Tombland - 36 inches
  • St Stephen's (again) - 35 inches
  • Theatre Street - 24 inches

As of April 2007, it is believed that the Theatre Street lines are still the shortest in the UK. Meanwhile, the shortest single yellow line in the UK lies on Highbury Crescent, Highbury, London, where an 18-inch yellow line has now been added between a residents' bay and a pay and display bay. No doubt, over time, this record will also be broken as councils attempt to overcome increasing parking difficulties.

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