Mobility parking – it’s not there for your (in)convenience

Today I went to the craft supply shop for sewing machine needles. On arriving, I found a truck parked in the disability parks, no permit displayed. The driver was coming out of a new bed shop that was being set up. I asked him where his permit was… he didn’t have one, he was just making a delivery. I told him he wasn’t allowed to park there without one “but..” “no, there’s no but. You don’t get to park here” “but…” “no. This is not a loading zone. You are not disabled. You are not entitled to use these parks. These parks are set aside for people who need them. We have to apply and be assessed as qualifying and pay for them. They are not here for you to “just pop in” or because you couldn’t park closer” “my boss told me to park here” “doesn’t matter, that doesn’t entitle you to the space. You tell your boss that. Where is your boss?” I took a photo of his licence plate and went into the shop to speak to his boss. His boss disagreed with him and said he hadn’t told him to park there. I don’t care who is lying, whether he did, or didn’t tell him to park there, he didn’t tell him to move the truck until I complained.

Naming and shaming- the licence plate of the offending vehicle.

I have complained to the building owner too. They are responsible for making sure that their tenants follow the rules.

But he was only there for a few minutes, why does it matter? Because those parks are absolutely essential for the people who need them. The close proximity of the parks, the additional space to the sides, the ramps in the berms, the extra time allowances, they all matter.

If my mother is visiting and we can’t get a mobility park, I have to look for one with an open space (e.g. a road) on the left hand side or she can’t get in and out of the car/her wheelchair.

Last week I lost 2 whole days, but if productivity of any functioning, because I couldn’t park near my destination on the Saturday. There were 5 mobility parks at the venue I was visiting but 3 if them were occupied by cars NOT displaying a mobility parking permit. I found a mobility park a block away, which meant I only had to walk 2 blocks, not the 4 I would have been walking without it. Yes, there was insufficient parking, but that is all the more reason to leave those parks free. If you think walking 2 blocks is inconvenient, think about how much harder it is for us.

“But there are still some disabled parks left, what does it matter if I park in this one?” The people parking in the spots at my gig last week may well have arrived and parked when there were still a couple of mobility parks free, and thought “there are some left, it’ll be fine”, but the number of parks allocated to mobility parking is calculated based on the capacity of the venue/car park, and therefore the percentage of disabled people they might expect. If a venue is full to capacity, it us unlikely that there will be sufficient parking for all mobility parking permit holders as it is, so if one able bodied person takes one mobility parking spot, the numbers are thrown out massively.

I know a lot of people think that you can park in one of these spots without a permit if you’re temporarily injured, or if you’re not going to be long etc. No. You can’t. If you have an injury that prevents you from walking, then your doctor can get you a temporary permit while you recover, but it has to go through the normal application and assessment processes.

I jokingly call them VIP parks, because I need to make light of my situation or I get depressed about it, but the reality is those spaces can be the difference between being able to do what we came to do, or having to turn around and go home. For someone like me, turning around and going home may mean I’ve wasted so much energy that I don’t get to go back.

Next time you’re tempted to justify parking in one if these parks with “I’m just poppingin really quickly” or “there are no other parks, so I’ll have to take this one” think about the disabled person who is coming along behind you. Did just popping in mean they now can’t pick up their medication? Will you taking that last park rather than parking further afield mean they miss out on their dinner booking or attending their awards ceremony?

If it’s inconvenient to you, then it’s darn near impossible for us.

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