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.

 

I Love Hatemail It’s So Funny

Reposted from the lost archives:

Thank you for your time and 70 cents to make me pee myself laughing

Today I went to park my car so that before picking up the children from school I could run a few errands. By run of course I mean limp along in a weird kind of leg drag way. The first two nearest parks are taken so I drive to the other end of the street and attempt to park in the only available disability bay left.

EVERY SINGLE DAY in this area we find this. Because people don’t understand parking rules or signs.
To provide further evidence….

Stopping (without displaying a current parking permit for people with disabilities) in a parking area for people with disabilities
203(1) Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Road Rules) Regulation 2009

Stopping on a road in a position that obstructs access to and from a footpath, driveway etc. 198 Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Road Rules) Regulation 2009

Yes, both rules are being breached here. Double fine perhaps?

blocked7

Of course I had to park all the way over to the left, because if I park in the middle, the car on the right is always guaranteed to park right on the line limiting the amount of space I have to get in and out of the car. Unfortunately I left before the person could return to their car to complain about being parked in.

It’s a daily occurrence here. I pick up my kids from the school here and every day the four disability parks and the four access ramps are blocked. I’ve tried being polite and mostly all I receive is abuse. I even get told to mind my own business. Yes, mind my own business.

These were all taken over the past two weeks
blocked1 blocked2 blocked3 blocked5 blocked6 blocked8

But today I managed to get a space and was very grateful that I was not depending on a wheelchair at this point in time. It would be a long push up the street to access the path.

I do my errands and among them is checking the post office box. I checked it and to my surprise there was not only mail but it was address to “NO PERMIT”.

I was excited to open it and at first when I started reading I was a little annoyed but the further I read the more I laughed. I walked all the way back to my car laughing and laughing. Seriously this person not only took the time to write it but paid to post it and all I could do was laugh at him.

He even sent the flyer back to me. It’s one of the flyers I had professionally printed (at my own cost) and I’ve only given them out to a few people those people are always diligent in checking. Now I have no idea who this is, or where the space in question was but please, share this around and if the brave soul ever comes forward to claim it and can prove to me he was not in a disability zone (including the diagonal lined no parking access space) then I will more than gladly apologise. HOWEVER, I will also be happy to educate him on how disability occurs. And I will also invite any volunteer campaigners along to explain how despite looking after their health they were struck with the tragedy of an accident or illness that caused their disability or through absolutely no fault of theirs, were born like that.

I might also recommend he use a wheelchair for a week and then tell me I’m lazy.

hatmail1
My very first handwritten hate mail

Two years ago…… my how it’s grown

Reposted from lost archives:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

If you take my park can you take my disability too please?

 

So most of you by now are aware I finally had enough and I’m pushing my campaign to tackle disability access issues, in particular abuse of disability parking.I want to thank everyone so far who has shown their support, told me not to give up, shared their stories, given their suggestions, retweeted, shared posts and taken part in my survey.

I surveyed 100 people. Since most respondents were my supporters or people of a like mind I don’t think it’s a true reflection of the general attitude in the community but what it did find might surprise some people.

Imagine, your partner, your child, your friend or even yourself, with a physical disability that impairs your ability to walk so much you have to use a wheelchair. You want to take them out to dinner or you’re going to meet friends for dinner. You arrive at the venue to find there is no disabled parking available either because there just isn’t enough provided or because someone has used the designated spaces without a permit. You have to leave. Go home. Tell your partner or child you can’t get in or worse, call your friends waiting for you to say you can’t park your car because you won’t be able to get out.

Imagine needing to get groceries for dinner and not being able to get into the store because you can’t get out of the car.

This happens to people who have permits to use disabled parking more than you realise. Even I was surprised to see that of the respondents who did have a permit or transport someone who does 87.2% said they have at some stage had to leave a car park because they couldn’t get an adequate parking space to suit their needs.

This has to change. But this is what I will be talking to my local MP about tomorrow afternoon. If you have faced these problems I encourage you to do the same. Write a letter if you can’t get to see them. Organisations have been advocating for people with disabilities for a while but I feel for those of us who can stand up for ourselves (no pun intended), it’s high time we did.

So here are the results.
Thanks again for participating and taking an interest. I’ll keep you updated on how the battle is going.

1. Do you have a disabled parking permit or transport someone who does?
35% said they either have a permit or transport someone who does.
The rest said no.

2. If you don’t have a permit do you think it’s acceptable to us a disabled parking space if you’re only going to be a few minutes?
97% said no. – But you’d be surprised how often it happens.

3. If you don’t have a permit do you think it’s acceptable for parents with prams to use disabled parking?
99% said no.

4. If you DO have a permit, do you find it difficult to find appropriate parking when you go out
Often 55%
Sometimes 37.5%
Rarely 5.0%
Never 2.5%

5. If you DO have a permit, have you ever had to leave a car park because you couldn’t find an appropriate parking space?
56.4% said they have but not often
30.8% said it happens a lot
only 12.8% say it’s never happened to them.

6. Have you ever seen designated disabled parking spaces that were unsuitable or poorly designed for disabled use?
59.8% said yes. (I’ve seen spaces you can’t even open the door properly in)

7. Are you aware that using disabled parking incurs a fine in Australia?
Only 88% said yes. Considering 35% of respondents are permit holders it says a lot.

8. Do you believe disabled parking regulations are enforced enough in your area?
A whopping 90.5% said NO!

9. Do you think places like shopping centres, provide better parking for parents with prams than they do for people with disabilities.
83.8% said yes. Many people have given me specific examples.

10. If you were fined for illegally using a disabled parking space without a permit would it deter you from doing it again?
88.5% of people said Yes.

Where it all began

This is reposted from the lost archives:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Laziness Is Not A Disability

I can’t sleep. I think I’m still too wound up about what happened tonight. Honestly, people’s reactions surprised me. I have been thinking it over and over. Did I deserve their response? Maybe I did. Perhaps I was too aggressive? I know I was angry, but I really and truly believe I and every other disabled person and their carers have the right to be.

I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get my disability parking permit. I did it because I don’t like infringement notices and because it’s the way it should be. No permit no park. Simple.

I used to just get frustrated by it and think “What an arsehole” in my head. Then I started saying it out loud to anyone that was with me. Now I have become so frustrated by the inconvenience it causes I have started telling the culprits themselves.

I’m talking about people who abuse designated disability parking spaces.

20150501_092736

This evening the family decided to go out for dinner. We headed to our favourite local sushi place which happens to be on the outside of our local shopping centre. It also happens to be right next door to a bottle shop and opposite a pub. There are several restaurants, a gym, an ice cream shop and banks all in close vicinity of them. You already see where this is going don’t you.

When I pulled up, another car pulled into the first disabled space at the same time and the driver left his wife and kids in the car while he ducked into the bottle shop. I walked closer to see they had no disabled parking permit. I was annoyed but I wanted dinner so I was honestly going to let it go. As I went to walk away though, another car pulled in next to mine also in a disabled space also with no permit displayed. No, I wasn’t going to just let them ignore me.

I was a bit surprised to see an older lady get out of the car but age is not a disability so I asked her anyway, “Do you realise that is a disabled parking space?”
She stared at me a little stunned then replied, “I left my thing at home, I have one, my husband is disabled.”

Okay so two things here: Firstly, the left it at home story, crap. I know what I went through for that thing it’s like gold. I never take it out of the car. If I do, it goes in my bag which goes everywhere with me. Secondly if her husband is disabled, to legally be allowed to use that space he not only needs to be with her, but also getting out of the vehicle. “You really should leave it in the car,” I told her, “It’s illegal to park there without the permit.” I was going to leave it at that. I started to walk away, when she got all defensive. “LOOK! LOOK AT MY ANKLE!” She started to yell at me. I looked, her ankle was clearly swollen but it didn’t change anything, she should have kept the permit in the car. She could be fined.

“I wasn’t interested in your ankle, I was interested in why you didn’t have a permit.” I told her.
“I do have one, my husband is disabled as well.” She insisted again.
I just repeated, “You’re supposed to leave it in the car.” I was almost at my destination next door to the bottle shop when I noticed that was where she was going! I hate liars. She wasn’t using that space because she was disabled. She was using that space because she was going to the bottle shop and she was LAZY!

I couldn’t help myself. “Oh Yeah! Real disabled. You’ll walk around that bottle shop with no problem!”
She hurled some abuse back so that was it for me. I got my phone out. Turned on the camera and started taking photos. I took a photo of the first car that had come in:

When I did, the lady sent her children in to the bottle shop to get the driver. Real class act.
Then I took a photo of the old lady’s car:

Then a photo of another car that had pulled up and gone in during the commotion:
Three cars in two minutes.

I joined the boys inside who just shook their heads at me and laughed. “You’re feisty tonight!” Steve told me.
“If I don’t stand up for myself and the disabled, who will? No one else is going to point it out to them.” I was cranky.
“Good for you baby.”

I’d just sat down when the first car, now with the woman driving and the man in the passenger seat, stopped outside the restaurant I was in and she pointed me out to him. So I pointed back. I am not going to be intimidated by people who were doing the wrong thing.

We enjoyed dinner and when we returned to the car I saw another car, no permit parked next to mine. So I took a photo.

There was another car a space away on the other side. A lady was sitting in it with an unrestrained child. She was on the phone but I went over anyway. I tried to be polite. “Hi, Excuse me, do you realise this is disabled parking?”

She looked at me annoyed, “Oh yeah, I do, I’m on the phone.”
WHAT! No. No no no. “Oh so it doesn’t bother you that you’re illegally using a disabled space?”
“Well my husband has just ducked inside he won’t be long.”
“Yes but if everyone that comes here does that at the same time, I can’t get parking when I come here to get food. This space is designated for people with disabled parking permits.”
“Well it’s just the same as me having a pram and and a baby.”

WHAT THE ACTUAL ????? Now I was really cranky.

“Um no it’s nothing like it. You don’t know what it’s like to be disabled, it’s just selfish.”
“Oh so what it’s not like there’s no spaces.”
“You know what, if you really want to use disabled parking so badly I’d be happy to break your spine so you can find out what it’s like to be in a wheelchair.” Ok so that was probably a bit over the top. I think I pushed it there.

In the mean time the driver of the car on the other side had returned, so I asked, “Do you know that’s disabled parking.”
He just gave me a dirty look.
“I know you’ll probably be disabled when you finish that bottle but you’ve really go no excuse now.”
“Oh why don’t you just fuck off.” He was a real charmer.
“It’s ok I have a photo of your car and number plate. I’ll give it to the police.”
“Why don’t you stay here all night and take photos of all the cars that come?”
“Don’t worry I might just do that!” I yelled as he drove off. Arsehole.

I got in the car, started it and started to reverse when the other lady whom I’d given a mouthful had her husband return and she started telling him what had happened. I saw as I drove away he had started to walk toward my car but stopped when I’d started to leave. I could hear him yelling though so I put my window down. He was yelling abuse I couldn’t make out but it was loud and clearly directed at me. So I just yelled back, “Don’t use disabled parking.”

I heard him reply “… speak to my wife like that again I’ll punch your face in…” Oh My God this was ridiculous.

“That’s the way,” I yelled back, “threaten to hit a disabled woman for pointing out you broke the law, you’re a real hero!”

Ok that was probably stupid. The guy was five times my size. Perhaps I only had the courage to do it because there were people around and Steve was with me. Later I asked him if he wished I hadn’t have done it. He said no, he was worried about the guy following us but he understood why I was angry. He just asked I don’t go doing that when I’m on my own.

So in a matter of 45 minutes I got 5 cars breaking the law. A law people don’t seem to be aware of. A law that is unclear. Currently the fine for parking in a disabled park without a permit in Queensland varies depending on the council area. I’ve found them ranging from $70 to $200. Its not a big enough deterrent. To some people thats just cheap parking. There is no consistent system. Police can issue fines but fines are mostly issued by council parking inspectors. It shouldn’t be about revenue. It should be about respect for the disabled and protecting their rights.

People don’t seem to consider it important. For me it’s not entirely detrimental. I can use alternative parking if I have to. It may mean struggling to get out of the car because I need the door open and both feet on the ground to get out or I have a risk of falling over. It may mean having to walk further which means fatigue and a higher risk of tripping or falling over.

For others though it may mean having to leave because there is no suitable parking available. I have a friend who is a wheelchair user and drives. Amazing modern technology called hand controls. If she can’t open the door wide enough she can’t get her wheelchair out. If there is no adequate access from the car to where she has to go, she can’t go in. People like her have no other option. Many people, just like her have told me, they often just leave because they can’t find anywhere suitable to park.

When you use disabled parking and leave a disabled person without a space, you’re taking away part of their independence!

It’s not fair.

I was laying there in bed questioning what possessed those people to get so angry with me. Then I remembered something a counsellor said to me once. There are only a few different types of anger. The most common is anger from passion (that was my anger) and anger from guilt (that was their anger). If your anger has come from guilt, you really need to consider your actions.

Had these people had have said, “Yes, you’re right I shouldn’t do it, I’m sorry”, I’d have happily accepted that and thanked them.

So I’m kind of stuck now. How do I educate people about why the facilities provided for the disabled are so important and not for the convenience of able bodied people, without getting my head ripped off?

I know I can’t change the world, but I’m sure as hell going to die trying!

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