When starting or developing a business your main focus is often your service or product and how to make it the best. So often businesses with premises are concerned with what is going on indoors, they forget that their business starts outdoors. For your customers to come to you, if they’re driving they need to park. If they have a disability parking permit, they need considered access. Disability parking has been made mandatory for most buildings under the Disability Discrimination Act through the Access to Premises Standards and these standards outline what disability parking should look like and how many you need. That’s just the basics. Further in the guidelines there are tips and hints on how to make sure you provide ideal disability parking and access to invite that extra potential 30%* of customers in.
Here are 5 key points on managing disability parking for your business
- Demographic – Does your business directly attract people with disabilities? What is the percentage of disability parking permit holders in your area? There are many cases where car parks are designs without considering these aspects and the business or service is unable to cater for their target clientele. Some areas have five times the number of average permit holders meaning, particularly if your business is a general kind like retail, you’ll need to provide more than the standard to ensure there is enough access.
- Design – make sure the Linemarker knows what they’re doing. Do you have a drawn plan? Does it include the current Australian Standards design? Do you need to update your parking area to the current design? Have you consulted with council on what is the best signage? Your town planning department at council should be able to assist you with all the design requirements.
- Proximity – Disability Parking shouldn’t be an after thought where the last two spaces at the end of the row become designated because it’s easiest. You want your customers to know you care about their needs. Being able to park and get their mobility devices beside the car is one thing. Being able to get from the car to the building safely is also necessary.
- Wayfinding – is the disability parking easy to locate? Can the person find their way easily from the parking to the entrance?
- Enforcement – How do you ensure that the money you’ve spent installing all these measures for your customers with disabilities isn’t abused by others? That’s the multi million dollar question with a multiple answer. Your premises is private property but the car park is accessed by the public so therefore it falls under the Australian Road Rules legislation. This means police may patrol and issue infringements if duty calls. It also means that you can request police to attend if someone has illegally parked and refuses to move.
It is also important to remember that it’s your property. If someone parked in the way of your front door you’d insist on them moving. You can apply the same to disability parking. If someone refuses to move you have the option of police attending to issue an infringement. You also have the option of engaging the services of a towing company to assist you with managing your parking area for illegal parkers. Not just disability parking but also people who are not customers using up your valuable customer space. These companies will install all the necessary legal signage required for you, all you have to do is call them when there is a breach and they will take care of the rest.
Your third option, particularly for larger car parks, is to engage the services of your local council compliance team. Parking officers can patrol if you give them permission under a Memorandum of Understanding with your local council. This is free and allows council to include your car park in their regular patrols and issue any infringements they are allowed under council’s by laws. Word gets around pretty fast when people get an infringement notice for illegal parking and it deters others from doing it too.