Accessibility: Disabled Parking Bays In Residential Areas

Accessibility is a hot topic for anyone who uses a wheelchair, simple adaptations such as ramps, dropped curbs and handrails make a huge difference to the quality of life a disabled person experiences. There are several issues I have observed that are common occurrences, and result in accessibility issues, one of these is the misuse and abuse of disabled parking spaces. Disabled parking spaces are to be used by individuals with a valid Blue Badge.

Disabled parking spaces are often integral to accessibility, they offer shorter walking distances to shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, in addition to private houses. As I live on a main road and do not have a driveway, I have a disabled parking space on the road outside of my house. This means on days when I cannot walk too far, or when I am using my wheelchair, that I can access my home more easily.

There are two types of parking bay issued by a local council; mandatory and advisory. A mandatory disabled parking bay marking is enforceable by law. This means that action can be taken by the County Council or its Agents against any person parking in the disabled bay whilst not correctly displaying a valid blue badge. A mandatory disabled bay is backed by a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). The marking itself means that anyone with a valid Blue Badge can park in the space, anyone parking there without this is in breach of the law. Therefore, although the marking would have been put in place as a result of the resident's application, the resident does not have exclusive right to park in the space.

The second type of parking bay issued by a local council is advisory. An advisory disabled bay marking is, by definition, not enforceable. This means that neither the Police nor the County Council can take any action if a non-disabled person, or indeed another disabled person, parks in that space. Again, although this marking would be made as a result of the resident's request, the resident themselves does not have exclusive use of it.

As a matter of personal opinion, this is problematic as it means that the facility which aims to aid a disabled person to reach their own home, is not necessarily guaranteed to be of use for that individual. Several times I have experienced an inability to use the space outside of my house due to it being used by a taxi driver having a rest break, or having another vehicle parked in the space. Although, it is important to note that in these cases, once the individual becomes aware of my need to use the space, they quickly move and apologise. However, this is besides the point. The issue of having to relay your disability and resulting mobility issues to a stranger, in order to use a tool of accessibility designed for your use seems to defeat the object of having the parking bay put in place all together.

For more information on highway enforcement of disabled parking bays, please visit your local government website.

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