Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

No Policing For Disabled Parking

28 Aug 2009I was at Henry St Medical Centre in Penrith earlier this week, trying to find a parking space. There are only three disabled spaces available directly outside of this particular medical centre, all of which were taken.

Unfortunately, one of the spaces was occupied by an employee in a Barrett & Smith blood courier car. I thought to myself, maybe they had a disabled pass and I continued to find parking up the other end of the car park.

When I got out of my car and wheeled myself to the entrance of the medical centre, I saw that not only was there no disabled pass on the window, but the driver was returning to his car and appeared to have no disability. I said to him ‘you can't park here' and he said ‘I'm allowed to park here when I pick up blood, I only stop for 5 minutes'. I told him that it doesn't matter, there are plenty of other spaces and that no one should be able to park there unless they need to, I advised him that I had to park all the way up the other end of the car park because he took the last disabled spot, with this, he shut his door and drove off.

I went inside and spoke to the staff behind the front desk, she said that the blood courier does park there when picking up blood and she wasn't sure if he's been given permission to do so.

I don't think it should be excusable for anyone to park in disabled spaces if they do not need to, if they are only stopping for 5 minutes, they should double park if absolutely necessary. This highlights the problems that can arise from parking illegally in disabled spaces, even for just a short time, it can majorly inconvenience someone who really needs it.

This infuriated me so much, that I sent emails to the Laboratory Director of Barrett & Smith in Penrith, the CEO of Barrett & Smith, and the Practice Manager of Henry Street Medical Centre, letting them know what happened to me and that it wasn't on.

The Laboratory Director emailed me back saying the following: ‘Barratt and Smith Pathology does not condone the use of disabled parking spaces by our staff in any circumstances unless they have a valid disabled permit'. She also said ‘I have passed your email on to the Laboratory Manager and the Courier Supervisor. The courier involved will be spoken to regarding the misuse of disabled spaces and the lack of courtesy extended to you at the time. We will also reinforce with all our couriers that the use of disabled spaces is not permitted'. I am yet to hear back from anyone else.

I contacted Jeff from Penrith City Council, asking what the outcome would have been if a parking inspector had of come across this particular incident, and he said that as it is a privately owned car park, there is nothing they could have done.

Raine & Horne Penrith runs this car park, called Henry Lawson Centre Car Park, I spoke to Greg Knott, who manages it, and I asked him how they enforce the rule so people don't illegally park in disabled car spaces in this car park. Greg said ‘there is no procedure, and it is up to the individual to know that what they're doing is wrong'. I think this is a joke and something needs to be changed.

I urge anyone who has a disability or is in a wheelchair, or knows of anyone who has a disability or uses a wheelchair, report people if you see them using disabled parking spaces without the legal permit.

There is an RTA number that you can call – 1300 884 899 – this number is the cost of a local call and to pursue a complaint, they need to know the cars Registration Number, the make and model, the colour of the car, the name of the street or shopping centre the car was seen at, and of course, your own name.

You can also get free flyers from your local council or the RTA that can be put on peoples cars who take advantage of the spaces, they say ‘being lazy is not a disability' and ‘running late is not a disability'. I think they're a great idea; they just need to be used by more people.

I once read on a website that a disabled man suggested writing in lipstick on the rear windows of cars that were illegally parked; ‘I park in handicapped spaces'. This is a great idea as the lipstick needs to be washed off for it to be removed. It could anger people though, so only do it at your own risk.

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