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Accessible Parking Spaces

Fitted

Thursday November 23 2017 11:00 AM

This week from the MS & Me archive, Declan Groeger shares his frustrations about accessible parking spaces used by people NOT living with a disability

My 'MS Roller Coaster Ride' officially began in 1988. You know what I mean when I refer to it as a roller coaster ride- there are so many ups and downs and the speed of the ups is never as fast as the speed of the downs. I have grudgingly come to accept, and for the most part live within, my limitations. I have set and reset my targets and my dreams as my abilities have changed. As I have said previously, I’ve accepted the limitations that MS has placed on me but what I cannot accept is the limitations I face as a result of the actions of my fellow citizens. I refer to those thoughtless and reckless people who abuse 'Designated Disabled Parking Spaces'.

I wish I could explain the importance of designated parking spaces in a few words but for those who understand no explanation is necessary and for those who don’t understand or care, no explanation is possible. Accessibility is a right, not a privilege. I abhor inaccessibility whilst accepting that it is a fact of life for a variety of reasons (poor design, lack of thought). It should be suffice to say that appropriate parking facilities are a vital element in the social inclusion of people with disabilities. 

Who does it? Why do they do it? I have my theories and here is a number of different types of abuser who live among us:

  • The Reckless Abuser – He/she simply doesn’t care what difficulties are caused by his/her actions
  • The Thoughtless Abuser – He/she just doesn’t consider the difficulties caused by his/her actions. These people are members of the “Just a minute brigade!”.
  • The System Abuser – gets a badge fraudulently and is, in my opinion, the worst offender.
  • Family and friends who treat the badge as a perk and use it when the registered person is not present. 

What can be done to mitigate the problem? 

1. The badges must be checked.Traffic wardens, Gardaí and private parking security must be made aware that we will not be embarrassed if our badges are checked. 

2. The cards should be confiscated, if used fraudulently. (Subject to legal constraints).

3. There must be strict adherence to the qualifying criteria before a badge is issued. 

4. Appeal to the better nature of people who don’t need a badge anymore, but who find it convenient, not to use them (good luck with that!).

5. Hit people where it hurts- their pocket. In October 2015 the city of San Diego increased the fine for misuse of parking permits to $740. Closer to home in Ennis, Judge Patrick Durcan fined a driver €500 and banned her from driving for 6 months. In reference to the case, Conor Faughnan of AA Roadwatch referred to misuse of disabled parking spaces as “an obnoxious thing to do”.

Have you any thoughts on this issue?

Further reading

Originally published February 2016

Author: Declan Groeger

Tags: ms, accessible, parking, disability

Comments

Pj bonner

Thursday November 23 2017 16:55

There should be a freephone no to ring and report parking in disabled bays and there should be more checking of cars parked in these bays

Declan

Friday November 24 2017 11:48

Absolutely correct PJ

Zia

Friday November 24 2017 13:22

I understand your grievances & whilst I fully support them, the main problem as I see it is that because MS is an invisible illness, I've known people who've needed to use their badge for parking due to the fact that they suffer fatigue & have been shouted at by another badge holder who made vast assumptions that they were an a system abuser.

I've also known a carer who needed to be timely to get back to their bed bound partner & so would also be wrongly ascribed as a system abuser.

So whilst I agree with your sentiment entirely, I also think that it's really not always as obvious as it might at first appear as to who has a genuine reason to use the space & assumptions are not always accurate when the bigger picture is understood.

Catherine Mulraney

Friday November 24 2017 23:25

I only use mine if I'm very fatigued.
I still feel embarrassed and waiting on someone to say something
The joys of an invisible illness.

Noreen Howlin

Saturday November 25 2017 10:19

People don't seem to give thought to someone with a disability who may not be able to walk a longer distance, finding another parking spot. Everyone knows how frustrating and srtressful this can be. Getting out of a car with a wheelchair takes even longer, being caught in the rain is another issue, not forgetting a carer whom this also affects.

Adrienne Cameron

Saturday November 25 2017 15:23

I too do not look disabled but some days I am in so much pain that putting one foot in front of the other is horrendous.

I have been challenged several times and told them not to judge a book by it's cover!!!

I don't agree with carers using the badge though. It is purely for the person on the badge who should be in the vehicle. Clearly states that. :-)

Declan

Tuesday November 28 2017 14:52

Thank you for all the comments -
Zia,
Things are rarely black & white and a book should never be judged by its' cover but in terms of the non-disabled person using the badge I have to say that IMHO it can never be legitimised

Catherine,
having an invisible illness is tough and a lot of people are very judgmental without having all the facts. It isn't an issue for me anymore as my MS has become very visible and I use a wheelchair or walker when out and about.

Noreen,
Some people are reckless, some careless and some are just plain self centered and selfish.

Adrienne,
If I see a person exiting a car I often ask 'Have you displayed your parking permit as the clampers/wardens are around'

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