As the International Day of People with Disability nears, Blue Badge Insurance is calling for the need to revisit accessible parking space dimensions. Comments we’ve seen in our Facebook community over the years, and conversations we’ve had with customers and industry, show these parking spots can be greatly frustrating for many people with disabilities.
In the first instance there simply aren’t anywhere near enough accessible parking spaces. Not to mention people who don’t have a disability parking permit often thoughtlessly use the few spaces that do exist. And if you do eventually find a vacant accessible parking spot it’s not always conducive to your physical needs (more on this below).
For International Day of People with Disability this 3rd December, we’re looking at why accessible parking needs to be more, well, accessible!
Let’s talk parking on the International Day of People with Disability
Most Australians are likely unaware accessible parking spots don’t suit all disability converted vehicles, for these reasons:
- Rear entry wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV). Regular parking spaces are 540cm long whereas accessible bays are 780cm long. Although this gives more room, exiting from the back in your wheelchair still sees you moving towards traffic. This is dangerous, which is why many who use a wheelchair opt for a side entry WAV where possible.
- Side entry WAV. Some accessible parking spots are raised or don’t have left or right hand loading zones. This means you can only use them if you have a rear entry WAV.
- Right hand side (RHS) entry WAV. Accessible parking with a LHS loading zone doesn’t accommodate vehicles that are converted for transfer on the RHS.
- Left hand side (LHS) entry WAV. Likewise if your vehicle’s wheelchair access is on the LHS you won’t be able to use the accessible parking with a loading bay on the right.
Simply put, accessible parking bays don’t always give you enough room to exit your car safely or use the wheelchair ramp. Not only is there the urgent need for many more spaces, but these need to be fitted with a dual loading zone on the left and right hand side of the vehicle every time.
Navigating parking lots in your wheelchair
Whether your vehicle has a RHS, LHS or rear entry for wheelchair access once you’re out your car getting to the kerb ramp can pose another problem. Kerb ramps are sometimes located elsewhere, away from the accessible parking bay. This means wheeling around the parking lot to find access to the paved area.
A person using their wheelchair may have to weave behind parked cars and through traffic to find the kerb ramp. As you can imagine, being in the traffic in your wheelchair is enormously risky. For example, a reversing car could easily miss you because you’re not standing at your full height.
This needs to be revised, and ABC News has pointed out that New Zealand already makes provision for this. Use the International Day of People with Disability to spread awareness about this issue by sharing this article with friends and family.
Let’s talk invisible disabilities on the International Day of People with Disability
The International Day of People with Disability is also a time to highlight that not all disabilities are visible. To get accessible parking spots, those who need one often have to fend off those who don’t. And people with invisible disabilities are sometimes unfairly expected to prove their disability – right there in the parking lot.
Invisible disability can affect mobility greatly. For those with a disability parking permit, accessible parking is a necessity not a luxury. Our research shows many are giving up on outings altogether to avoid being assaulted when legitimately using accessible parking.
Find out what our survey respondents have to say here:
- Invisible Disabilities Week survey (part one)
- Invisible Disabilities Week 2021 (part two)
- And Invisible Disabilities Week Australia (part three)
We can’t see gravity yet all of us know it’s real. So why not invisible disabilities. Many, like diabetes, acquired brain injury and epilepsy ,to name a few, have serious physical implications that require a disability parking permit.
Invisible disabilities deserve respect. The easiest way to do this is simply being respectful no matter who you’re dealing with and in what context. International Day of People with Disability is a chance to remind ourselves of this.
Disability parking permit car insurance
If you drive a WAV or converted car you may find regular motor insurers will charge you more. Blue Badge Insurance doesn’t. We offer up to 25% off your premium for car insurance for wheelchair accessible vehicles and disability converted cars because. This applies to anyone with a disability parking permit too.