Top 3 Reasons Disability Parking Infringements are Waived

Research from data over the past 5 years since the access to premises standards were introduced in Australia has revealed some disappointing facts about disability accessible parking that needs to be addressed. Data from Councils and State authorities has revealed that fines for illegal use of disability parking are contested at an extremely high rate.

The top three reasons these fines are waived are:

  1. Medical Reasons
  2. Permit holder with reason for permit not being displayed
  3. Space did not comply to MUTCD or was not easily identified as a disability accessible parking zone.

The MUTCD or Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices provides the standards under which parking should be allocated and identified. Each state has their own manual but they are fairly consistent on two things. The space must display the International Symbol of Access and it must be clear and visible from a distance of at least 3m. When signage doesn’t meet the MUTCD standards and it can be deemed not clearly a disability accessible parking zone the recipient of the infringement will often have it waived.

This make enforcement difficult for authorities. Contesting in court can be a costly process particularly when the offender is awarded the fine be overturned and costs paid by the state (or council) prosecution.

Another interesting fact from the Queensland MUTCD is Clause 7.4 that specifies as well as spaces needing to conform to the relevant Australian Standards, the Building Code and The Access to Premises Standards, installation should also take into account the demand for available spaces, proximity of the spaces to the activity to be accessed and ease of access from spaces by a wheelchair. Five years into the legislation we are still seeing too often spaces that are not only non compliant but also non practical. Perhaps if there was more input sought from people with actual lived experience of mobility with a disability rather than engineers and architects this problem could be eliminated.

Back to fines being waived though, the costly process and time wasted in the court system due to the high levels of non compliance in building, we have the issue of deterrence for our authorities to actually issue infringements. Vicious cycle that brings us back to square one leaving us stuck in a society of tokenism where needs aren’t understood or met.

 

Building access is expensive? Try living with a disability!

While the federal government via the string of unsuccessful Social Services ministers, Kevin Andrews, Scott Morrison and now Christian Porter, continue to demonise people with disabilities as being the burdens of society, Disability Services in Australia are still rubbing their greedy little hands together knowing how expensive it is to live with a disability and seeing us as a commodity rather than a burden. From in home assistance services to providers of mobility aides to home and vehicle modification and technology assistance device developers they’ve all got their sights set on one thing. Our money. We’re necessity spenders. We spend on things we HAVE to have to spare any chance of a decent quality of life in a world that still begrudges having to cater to our needs.

$4000 laser light for people with Parkinson's to use when they have freezing gait. A laser light.

$4000 laser light for people with Parkinson’s to use when they have freezing gait. A laser light.

$200 Cushion to help someone stop rolling over in bed. Yes, $200.

$200 Cushion to help someone stop rolling over in bed. Yes, $200.

Recently on a bus trip back from a fabulous inclusive council event, I found myself in the company of a gentleman who saw fit to ask me what it is I do. Apparently in some circles who you are and what you do is still important. I was there as an invited guest for whatever reason council saw fit to invite me. I didn’t think what I did was important but I indulged his curiosity and told him, “I’m a disability access consultant and advocate for rights of people with disabilities.”

He didn’t really care what I did or who I was, what he was looking for was creating an opening to tell me all about himself and when I didn’t appear impressed, he took the opportunity to belittle what I do.

You see this very self important person was a builder. Apparently one of the biggest builders there is. I’d heard of some of the places he built but I didn’t know him by name which it seemed he expected I should. He asked more detail of what I do so I explained I gave FREE consultation and assessment of existing buildings’ disability access with solutions of how they can improve it or in the very least be more compliant. Yep. I’m that idiot. I’m the one who gives out my services for FREEEEEEEEEEEE. So I clearly cannot be as important as him.

The questions then came. “What are your qualifications?” – I’m self educated with assistance from relevant departments responsible for the relevant legislations.
“Can you read building plans?” – Basic plans yes. I really only need to know where the disability access is going to go and the dimensions.
“What about complex plans?” – Well it’s not really relevant to me to know where the power and water will be running so I don’t need to understand complex architectural diagrams, only the things relevant to access which I can identify.
“Have you ever built anything?” – actually, yes. Our family owned a landscaping business so I’ve built a few things, can you be more specific?

Then came the part I was NOT expecting but it made me realise what is wrong with the world and the obstructions to our battle for inclusive communities?

“Do you know how costly it is to do all that disability access stuff?”

Truth is in the scope of things it doesn’t have to be that costly if you get it right the first time and think about the practicality of it rather than how pretty it should look. Of course when you don’t need disability access it can seem like a complete waste right?

Wait…. what about parents with prams?????? Okay lets remove the controversial parking factor…. for years mothers and others complained about the need for wider entries and ramps and lifts and change areas for babies and seating areas that are NOT toilets because some people just can’t deal with boobs with a baby attached to them. And retailers heard and they saw the potential dollar signs of a return from a target market that wanted to be relieved of their boredom but struggled to find the means to do so. That’s right it had nothing at all to do with inclusion or equity. It was purely a marketing ploy but a very beneficial one to that target market.

Parents spend. Parents have children that need to be spent on. If you have kids, whether you’re getting it from employment or the government you’re getting money and who better to relieve you of that heavy cash but retailers, yaaaaaaay! Ice creams for everyone!

How do we translate this to disabilities? It seems society in general have a misconception people with disabilities have needs but not wants. Why would we want to go shopping? What could we possibly spend money on in a shopping centre. Shouldn’t we be at the mobility aides store? Where is your carer?

We’re viewed as being dependant therefore we couldn’t have an independently controlled income or the desire to want to spend it. But the government says they have to build access so they comply with what they have to and slip a few dollars to the inspector to approve what they think they can get away with.

When it comes to parking it’s no different. When compliance isn’t tough they’ll just slap in a space with a wheelchair symbol on it and call it accessible. It doesn’t work because you can barely see it, it’s not wide enough and it’s right down the very end of the strip way away from the entrance, but we called it accessible so deal with it.

disability parking fail

No. Just no.

Line marking and a bollard is all it takes right? How much does that actually cost? It’s going to vary and of course like any person wanting the best price you need to shop around but here’s a bit of an average…..

 

Line marking for two bays including the international symbol of access to the required dimensions in the required colouring using top quality material to last up to ten years, plus the shared access space in the middle cost including GST is around $160. A bollard for the shared space – using a standard yellow metal concreted fixture, $350 including installation. So for $510 you have accessible spaces for two cars for almost 10 years. 7 day trading. Average shopping time 2 hours. So that potentially attracts 8 spending customers per day. According to Inside Retail, Australian’s spend on average $141 per person in supermarkets alone. So just two disability accessible parking bays can potentially bring in $410 592 per year. $510 for ten years to gain $4 105 920?

I’d love to show this to that builder and ask how he’d feel about losing $4.1 million a year per double accessible parking bay. Sure you could put in a few more regular bays because they spend too right? But regular old parking doesn’t attract regular shoppers. You’re competing with every other retailer for that market. Besides, those of us who are brave enough to enter a shopping centre car park know there’s always (Christmas Crazies excepted) available regular parking when they are compliant to the building code but still we’re struggling to get proper disability accessible parking.

Make your premises the ultimate shopping experience in accessibility and you’re already winning over that target market that just want to be included. Not just them, but the people in their lives too.

The facts:

  • Almost 4 million Australians have a disability.
  • About 50 per cent of people aged over 55 have difficulty with their mobility, hearing or vision.
  • By 2050 more than 25 per cent of the population will be over 65.
  • If you add families, friends and colleagues the number of people affected by disability is even greater.
Source: Australian Human Rights Commission

Building Inclusive Communities – Access to Premises Standards

What are the Access to Premises Standards?
The Premises Standards, which came into effect on 1 May 2011, aim to provide people with disability with dignified and equitable access to buildings, and provide certainty to industry that they are complying with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).

First, the guiding principles of the Premises Standards are the objects of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA), which are:

• to eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against persons on the basis of their disabilities in various areas, and in particular access to premises, work, accommodation and the provision of facilities, services and land;

• to ensure, as far as practicable, that persons with disabilities have the same rights to equality before the law as the rest of the community; and

• to promote recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle that persons with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as the rest of the community.

Second, the purpose of the Premises Standards is:

• to ensure that dignified, equitable, cost-effective and reasonably achievable access to buildings, and facilities and services within buildings, is provided for people with disability, and

• to give certainty to building certifiers, developers and managers that if the Standards are complied with they cannot be subject to a successful complaint under the DDA in relation to those matters covered by the Premises Standards.

Third, it is unlawful to contravene the Premises Standards.

Fourth, the Premises Standards specify how the objects of the DDA are to be achieved in the provision of accessible buildings.


 

One of the most commonly asked questions about the new car parking standards is
WHY IS THERE NO BOLLARD IN THE SHARED SPACE?

This is from the Access to Premises Standards Guidelines:

Note on AS/NZS 2890.6
AS 2890.6 requires a bollard be placed to prevent cars from blocking a shared area at an accessible carparking space. While the standard specifies the location of the bollard it does not include specifications on matters such as height, diameter or luminance contrast. Developers should consider these issues to ensure visibility and to ensure bollards do not encroach on space required by someone getting into or out of their car. Flexible bollards might be considered to reduce the chances of damage to cars.
As with all other areas of compliance achieving Deemed-to-Satisfy compliance with AS 2890.6 in existing buildings may on occasion be difficult because of the existing carpark layout. Suitable Alternative Solutions might be developed to meet the Performance Requirement.

To find out more about how the standards are meant to be applied and other provisions visit:
https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/page/PremisesStandardsGuidelineV2.pdf

To view the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010 visit:
https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2010L00668

To view the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (current version) visit:
https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2015C00252

While these are Commonwealth laws (applied nationally to the whole of Australia) it is important to remember these are minimum standards and may have variations applied by your state or council by-laws, above and beyond the minimum.

When the world tries to break you

We always knew it was a risk, that some idiot could assault a parking campaigner one day. Even though I’m always careful to assess the level of aggravation & not push my luck. What I didn’t expect was someone to be so furtive in their actions to make an assault look like an accident.

I’d only just returned from a meeting about access issues at a local library. l was excited about the opportunity to tell people how I had approached it to resolve it in hope of setting an example. When you advocate you are often acutely aware of the general lack of knowledge on how to initiate change and in a world of social media, good old slacktivism.

It was a win and I was glad to see the eagerness to make the improvements.

Sadly that was where the joy stopped.

Returning to my car I received a call that was disappointing but not unexpected on an issue involving the very spot I was parked. Whilst on the phone I watched the woman in her little Corolla reverse into the space next to my car and shook my head. It’s painted with white diagonal lines. This is called a painted island. It is there to allow people to access the vehicle in the disability bay, particularly as it has a footpath access ramp. There is also a parking restriction sign with an arrow showing that between the sign and the end of the curb, it is a parking zone for disability parking permit holders.

Apparently this is not clear enough for people. Today was no ordinary day though. Once or twice a week I help out a young mum, minding one of her two babies so she has a bit less hassle getting her school day done. I admit I do it more for me than her because despite how exhausting it is on me they really bring much needed brightness to my week.

So today just happened to be the day I had young master almost 2. I like taking the kids out with the pram. People don’t stare like they do when I have a walking stick or walker. I blend in. Getting them from the pram to the car is a challenge but together we manage. It’s almost like they know they need to help me.

I didn’t say a word to the woman, I just awkwardly hoisted him out of the pram but in the process, knocked it over. The handle of the pram hit the wheel of the illegally parked car. l lifted the pram and returned to trying to buckle the child seat harness.

Have you ever seen someone with Parkinson’s try to do up a seat belt? Try threading a needle. With silly string. Drunk.

It was 2.55pm. I take my next medication dose at 3. This was not going well.

When I accomplished that mission I stepped back and my foot got caught on the pram knocking it over again. As I picked it up, the driver got out of her car and told me, “stop hitting my car!”

It wouldn’t have been an issue if she wasn’t illegally parked and I told her so. So began the no I’m not yes you are argument and I’m growing very tired of having it.

If you don’t know simple parking rules then perhaps you shouldn’t be driving.

She informed me she was calling police and began taking photos of my car. I got out one of our new brochures but when I attempted to give it to her she got in her car and wound up the window. I put it on the windscreen and told her to get educated.

It’s what happened next that will shock you.  She opened her car door, not hard enough to hit me, but more in an action that once it made contact with me, gave me a little shove.

I HAVE BLOODY PARKINSON’S DISEASE!!

If a day goes by I don’t lose my balance and fall I celebrate. Yes that little shove that seemed so innocent was enough to push me off balance and I landed ass first in the garden.

That wasn’t the worst of it. No apology or offer to help me up. She yells out “Oh come on, you walked into my door.”

While I was on the ground do my best turtle on it’s back maneuvers to get up, she takes the brochure from the windscreen and goes and throws it in my pram. Icing on the cake was the teenage girl she was picking up from school yelling at me “It’s not a disabled space.”

I hope she isn’t getting her licence anytime soon.

I’ve been to police but as per the previous post with no liaison for people with disabilities I’m not expecting any miraculous change in the parking behaviour of the drivers around North Lakes anytime soon. It was also apparent police were aware of the problem in that specific area and also of this campaign.

Ten bucks says no one is patrolling the area tomorrow.

Not that I can be arsed going out again. Between this and my car being keyed last week, I’m just over it. I don’t want your damn inclusion. I’ve got internet. I will survive.

20151014_145859

 

  • might I add, its not the first conversation I’ve had with this driver about this space.

 

 

Building Inclusive Communities?

ISAWhen we see this symbol, it is generally a sign that people with disabilities can access the area or facility. It’s a “People With Disabilities Welcome” symbol.

So when we see this symbol… it’s quite confronting.
disability not welcome symbol

People with disabilities not welcome? It actually means it’s not an accessible area. Which in reality means you’re not welcome. It says, we’re not going to make the effort to make this area accessible for you. No big deal you say? Many areas are not accessible right! Right! This is actually on a foot path. True story.

paisley park close up map

In a little wooded area on a main road in Lawnton is a disability accessible toilet… wait.. is that toilet block even accessible? Anyway, there’s a toilet block and a little park with a creek running through it. As you can see, there’s also a footpath.

paisley path2 20150622_154034

 

This symbol actually exists. When a campaign follower posted it to our Facebook page I had to go see it for myself. Some time ago, my friend Russell told me there was a footpath he couldn’t use but I wasn’t sure what he meant. He had to ask his local councillor to have the footpath on the other side of the road to be fixed to accommodate wheelchair access. So until that was done there was no realistic way for him to safely travel the route on which this path takes.

There’s a very logical reason why this symbol is here. I walked the path. I couldn’t make it back up the steep slope. I had to diagonal walk along the grass to get back to the top. No it is not wheelchair friendly. It’s not even person with mobility impairment friendly. Naturally you can appreciate a warning to tell you not to use the foot path right? Council is just trying to keep us safe. So what do you do from there?

 

 

paisley park distance map

The two red diamond points on the map are where the nearest pedestrian lights crossings are. That’s a bit of a hike back to cross the road.

 

The nearest lights suitable to cross the road are indicated on the map at the end of the red lines. In between is where the footpath warning signs are. There is no other notice or warning that the path ahead is not disability accessible. There is no accessibility map available for Moreton Bay Regional Council let alone this specific area. If you’re off on an adventure in your wheelchair or mobility scooter for the first time here the only way to learn is to find out the hard way. When I went to take these photos it started raining. I imagined myself having to make the trip all the way back in the rain just to cross the road.

This is life with a mobility impairment. No one thinks about the logistics involved for us. Particularly here in my local area. Why? Because they defunded the disability access advisory committee quite some time ago. I’ve even offered to form a voluntary committee that doesn’t require funding. I would volunteer just for the sake of building an inclusive community in my region! So far there’s no sign of my offer being accepted.

#MBRCFail

The Right to Access – The Loo

Originally published under

Does that accessible toilet have your name on it?

Disabled Access, Information
Friday Wright

I get asked several times a week about accessible toilets. There is no law enforcement on toilets like there is parking. There’s a very good reason for that. So I’m going to explore the ins and outs (oh dear this is only going to go down hill from here) of access to public toilet facilities.

Example of a disability accessible toilet set up

 

 

 

International symbols for toilets Man – black image of person Woman black image of person with skirt Disability – white image of person in wheelchair on blue square the word Toilet Braille underneath

The Access to Premises Standards state the requirements of buildings to provide toilet facilities that are accessible to people of all abilities. This is governed by the Disability Discrimination Act. Various other Acts and Codes of Practice are incorporated in the access standards including the Building Code of Australia and Local Government by laws.

The purpose of the Disability Discrimination Act in Access to Premises is to ensure that people are not excluded from the equivalent access that the rest of the community enjoy due to their disability.

 

So lets look at it in perspective. Public toilets. When you gotta go, you gotta go. We all know how much we’ve loved the blessing of being able to find a toilet when you’re out at one time or another in our lives. We also all know the joy of finding said toilet only to discover people have lined up out the door and down the Pacific Highway to use said toilet. It happens. To all of us. Not just those with disabilities.

I saw a tweet a while ago on Twitter  from a person of some significant prominence in the disability community. The person is a wheelchair user. It said “The person in this disability toilet had better be in a wheelchair.”

I used a great deal of restraint that day to not reply. Lets get something sorted right here right now, using a wheelchair is not the only need for access to a toilet.

There are many types of mobility devices that would restrict a person attempting to use a standard type toilet. Those people have just as much right as wheelchair users to access. Including, the accessible toilet.

I’m prepared for the condemnation I’ll receive for saying this but seriously, unless that toilet has your name on it, you’ll just have to wait like the rest of us. Now, before you go all hell hath no fury on me, remember I have used and still on occasions use a wheelchair and there are times my mobility is so restricted I cannot control my movement enough to even speak clearly. So the “you don’t know what it’s like” argument just went out the window.

This is how we need to perceive accessible toilets.
1. Are they provided?
2. Are there enough to cover the equivalent use of standard toilets? That means considering up to 10% of the population NEEDS an accessible toilet is there 1 to every 10 standard toilets (both male and female) provided.
3. Are they being used reasonably? That is that the people using them have a NEED to use them because they can’t use a standard toilet in their situation and there are no other facilities provided to suit their needs AND are they using them for the purpose of sanitary hygiene needs?

The reason I point out the specifics in point 3 is that prior to writing this I have actually done a bit of research. I’ve spoken with shopping centre security and managers, and I’ve had a real eye opening education about what goes on in public toilets. One shopping centre staff told a story of a couple who regularly meet and use the disability accessible toilet for a ‘romantic encounter’. One of these people uses a wheelchair and the other person has other disabilities. True story. There were other stories about people who fall asleep in toilets, use them as change rooms and unload their shoplifted stash into bags to look like purchases.

The most shocking part of this is that every one of these stories featured a person with a mobility disability. So they had every right and need to use the toilet however they weren’t using it reasonably.

We really need to stop ableism but just as much I think we need to stop able-hate. The assumption that access facility abuse is only by able bodied people is clearly wrong. We already know the amount of abuse of parking permits by permit holders that goes on. No it’s not appropriate if you are the permit holder to use the disability parking to pick up your able bodied child from school while you sit in your car and wait.

So the question posed so often to me “Are disability accessible toilets for the exclusive use of people with disabilities?” has the answer of NO.

What does the Disability Discrimination Act say about accessible toilets?
Do accessible toilets have to be reserved exclusively for people with disabilities?

No. There is nothing in the DDA to mandate accessible toilet facilities being exclusively for use by people with disabilities – so long as in high use areas there are sufficient numbers of accessible facilities to give users with disabilities equivalent convenience of access.

Where there are multiple toilet facilities, venues may well make their own decisions to reserve accessible facilities for use by people with disabilities only, or to implement a priority system. That is however a matter for management decision in the circumstances of each venue, rather than for the DDA. Other users without disabilities may likewise decide voluntarily as a matter of courtesy not to use an accessible toilet if possible where another toilet is provided, to avoid delaying a person who does not have a choice. Again, however, that is not a matter for the DDA.

Of course, the only way to ensure absolutely equal access would be to require that each and every toilet be accessible – but no one has argued that the DDA or other laws require that, in recognition of the additional space that an accessible toilet facility requires.

The position where parking spots are reserved for use by people with disabilities is different. A parked car typically remains in place much longer than a person using a toilet does, so that parking in “disabled” spaces by drivers without a disability can effectively deny people with a disability access at all, rather than only requiring a short delay.

So in a nutshell…. if the building has provided the required access for people with disabilities their job is done. No discrimination has occurred.

It then comes down to the person using the facility. Have they caused discrimination against a person with a disability? Have they used the toilet instead of using standard toilets that were available at the time? Have they used the toilet reasonably?

It’s tough to control the use of toilets. It relies heavily on people being considerate and having morals. Perhaps we need to have signs on all the accessible toilets where standard toilets are also provided that say “Do you really need to use this facility?” If you gotta go, you gotta go and all things considered, we’re damn lucky to live in a country where we have the right to fight for equal access. Let’s enjoy that. Even if we have to wait our turn.

 

Tow It! – The App

I’m excited to announce a new partnership with No Permit No Park!

For a while I’ve been searching for an app to assist us with the No Permit No Park Campaign. There are plenty of parking reporting apps but the issue I’ve faced is that they all have the goal of reporting an offence that very few of our enforcement authorities will recognise as evidence to act upon.

TowIt is different in that it maps the offence which allows me (and hopefully in the future other interested parties who want to make a change for the social good of inclusive communities) to look at areas that have high offences reported and mark them as “hotspots”. I can then use this information to provide to enforcement authorities to encourage them to find solutions to the problem that may be causing it, even if it is increasing patrols and issuing infringements.

After many weeks of emailing back and forth and making plans, falling to sleep watching terrible TV shows and having my manic unpredictable life get in the way, I finally had the opportunity last night to stay up late and have a Google Hangout with the founders of the app to discuss what vision I have for it here in Australia.

Based in Toronto Canada, Gregory and Michael came up with the idea for TowIt through the same frustrations as most of us at No Permit No Park. Selfish people blocking roads and access for others. They’re currently working on an update of the app soon to be released and I was very excited to hear that some of the suggestions I had will be included to make it work better here for us. I’m looking forward to working further with these guys, their vision fits in with our goal of accessible and inclusive communities and they have the drive to find solutions to any issues.

So help me out to start producing data I can use by downloading the app and start using it to report disability parking offences. It currently only allows one photo to be taken so try to make it a shot of the car with the rego clear and the disability sign or road marking where ever possible. Future updates will allow you to tag #NoPermitNoPark in the report so that we can log the number of incidences and search them, and they’re hoping to include the option of multiple photos, not that it is the most significant detail right now as my priority is building hotspot maps rather than individual reporting.

This app could go much further here in Australia in being a solution for owners of non government parking facilities to request towing services to remove vehicles they’re legally allowed to remove. The TowIt team are also planning to include an option where users can sign up and be notified if their vehicle has been reported.

“Whether the vehicle is towed, or the owner moves it, the result is that the obstruction is cleared allowing roads to be used freely even if an infringement isn’t issued, which is a better outcome for everyone.” – Michael McArthur Co-founder of Towit

So please go to their website or search the app in your phone’s app store and lets make Australia their biggest user base!
https://towit.io/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/towit/id959413790?ls=1&mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.towit

And don’t forget to like them on Facebook! Share the love!
https://www.facebook.com/towitapp?fref=ts

 

About this Parents With Prams Parking thing…

This is a revamp of an old post lost to the black hole in the internet:

You may be surprised I once advocated for parents with prams parking. Yes! I actually did. I was a young mum who had just moved from a big city to a small seaside town and was horrified to find the local shopping centre’s idea of a baby change room was the hand basin bench and a plastic chair. I breastfed my baby in the middle of the shopping centre and anyone who complained I led them to the women’s toilet and showed them the alternative. One of the issues the town was having was getting young people to stay. There wasn’t much work and not much more to keep them entertained. Nor was there access to facilities and services young families needed. So, that was the start of my campaign to get the town to rethink their strategies for planning and include more family friendly things to keep people and attract more.

Part of that included parents with prams. I actually don’t mind pram parking. In big shopping centres. Shopping centre car parks are notorious for accidents especially ones involving pedestrians. People not watching where they’re walking or driving, busy looking for a parking space, difficult to see amongst the 5000 other obstacles around them. They’re a dangerous place, especially for the disabled and small children. But shopping centre car parks are the only place I think have a need for them. We’re talking car parks where they cram 5000 spaces into the smallest square metre area possible. More spaces more shoppers.

With the inclusion in shopping centres of play equipment and even child minding for children prams parking is an ideal way to attract that customer base.

That’s where it should stop. It is about access and lets face it, they don’t make prams – or cars – like they use to. I watched a young mum of twins recently getting the double pram out of the car. It was a struggle. Seriously I reckon the pram weighed more than she did. If we can do something like this to help make doing the groceries a little easier for these mums and dads, then why not?

However, it should not come at the expense of access for anyone else. Especially people with disabilities. No matter what, you can always get a child out of your car even if you have to park in a normal space. While pram parking is convenient and helpful, parking for disabilities is more than just a convenience. It’s necessary for inclusion. Without accessible areas, people with mobility impairments, particularly those who rely on mobility aides, cannot be included in their community. Exclusion based on a person’s disability is discrimination, hence why, disability access is becoming mandatory through legislation.

Having been a parent who acquired a disability later in life, I can honestly say I was never excluded from my community like I am as a person with a disability. It shouldn’t happen. There’s just no excuse for it.

The legislative protection on disability accessible parking is quite clear and specific. To use a parking space marked for people with disabilities you must first obtain and display the Australian Disability Parking Permit or other government authorised disability parking permit in your state. This is under federal legislation. Most state legislation does require the permit holder to either be getting in or out of the vehicle at some stage while it is parked in the disability accessible parking zone. While not all states specify this we do encourage people to consider asking themselves “Do I really NEED to park here?”. To obtain a permit you must meet the criteria, which for the ADPP is:

  • The applicant must be:
  • unable to walk and always require the use of a wheelchair or
  • their ability to walk is severely restricted by a permanent medical condition or ability to walk is severely restricted by a temporary medical condition or disability that you will have for 6 months or more as certified by your doctor or occupational therapist.

Applicants with intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive or sensory impairment alone do not meet the eligibility criteria unless the applicant also has a mobility impairment that impacts on their ability to walk.

This specific criteria and outline of how disability parking can be used is what makes it enforceable.

If we want to make pram parking enforceable it opens a whole can of worms.

Some councils have attempted it in Western Australia. It is very specific although difficult to enforce. The vehicle must have a child occupant in the vehicle that is being transported by a pram or other wheeled child transport under the legislative definition. This would exclude parents who use baby slings, trolleys or pushalong bikes. It would also exclude those who pull up into the pram parking outside the bottle shop with the car full of kids and mum stays in the car while dad runs in. Enforcement only relies on visual observation of the relevant council authority.

Below are some examples of the tried legislation on pram parking. So complaining mums and dads.. you need to consider, before you demand enforcement on the issue…. would you comply every time?

http://www.joondalup.wa.gov.au/Libraries/Council_Policies/Dedicated_Car_Parking_for_Seniors_and_Parents_with_Prams_Policy.pdf

http://www.joondalup.wa.gov.au/Libraries/Local_Laws/Parking_Local_Law_1998.pdf
48B A person not being accompanied by a child and using a pram to transport that child at the time shall not stop or park in a parking bay set aside by a “parents with prams” sign.

 

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