Accessible Parking Spaces

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

Blog originally published February 2016