The problem with parking.
As an expatriate from the USA, I am surprised to be constantly seeing stories and posts, either naming and shaming bay abuse, Blue badge abuse or the lack of enforcement. So, what can be done? That question never seems to have a straightforward answer. The problem can seem complex and the solution even more complicated.
One of the main arguments about enforcement is that there just isn’t enough of it. Why not? Because there just aren’t enough enforcement officers to give all abusers a PCN (Parking Charge Notice), because there’s just not enough funds to hire more officers. When I see this, along with the minuscule fines for bay abuse, it makes me feel like the protection of disabled people’s rights isn’t a priority.
We live in a world that was designed by non-disabled people, for non-disabled people. Change only comes about when people demand to have their voice heard by governments, organisations and businesses. This is about protecting the people who, for centuries, have been treated unfairly and discriminated against. Many of us are not able to just park wherever we want. We need these spaces allocated to us, whether it’s because they are closer or wide enough to get our wheelchair close to the vehicle, these are a necessity, not a luxury.
I come from a country where they don’t mess around. Where the police can seem quite aggressive and they also don’t tolerate people breaking the law. Whether the land where the violation happens is public or private, once they are made available to the public, they are treated like public property.
The fine for accessible bay abuse in the USA starts at $250 and goes up to $1,100. When you are serious about upholding the rights of disabled people, you create laws that uphold those rights. Once you create powerful laws that come with hefty fines, you can have enough of an income to be able to justify hiring more enforcement officers.
In the UK, most shopping centre car parks are currently left to be enforced by the property owners. Many businesses don’t enforce their car parks for fear of losing customers or receiving verbal abuse. If we made it so that all private land made available to the public was treated and policed as public property, parking officers could freely enforce any car park available to the public. This would also require that the minimum fine across the UK for parking without a Blue Badge to be £200 (for example), resulting in having the money to hire more officers. If you want to make something viable, it needs to be treated like a proper business.
Enough messing around with complaints, it’s about time we took this seriously and acted accordingly.
About Ruben Carol
Ruben is a disability access and inclusion specialist, trainer and facilitator and has had the pleasure of training organisations, including TfL and Uber.
He’s also an actor, VO artist, and public speaker. Appearances include Good Omens, His Dark Materials and Doctors.
You can find him on Facebook and Instagram @Ruben.Carol.Actor