The Ministry of Equality would like to highlight the problems faced by people with disabilities when vehicles are parked illegally or in an indiscriminate manner.
The Respect the Space campaign was started in 2018 as a reminder to the general public that accessible parking bays should not be misused by people who did not hold a Blue Badge. The Ministry of Equality’s strategy to curtail the misuse of Blue Bays, resulted the increase of fines for illegally parking in an accessible bay to £500.
This campaign included a video of different ways that accessible parking bays were misused which can be watched here https://youtu.be/Kv6-VmmVFvI
Accessible parking bays are essential to people with mobility impairments and other disabilities as it offers them a more accessible means to access their destination. Consideration should always be taken by other drivers of the importance of accessible parking for people with disabilities.
Using these parking spaces (even for a few minutes) or obstructing them by parking parallel or behind an accessible parking space removes the positive impact these parking’s are designed to afford. It is likewise essential for blue badge users as a whole, that these accessible parking bays are used responsibly and only when the blue badge user is in the vehicle.
The Ministry of Equality is also aware and concerned of instances were vehicles illegally parked on a kerb or footpath are impeding wheelchair users, people with other mobility impairments, the visually impaired and even people pushing a stroller or pram, from travelling safely on our streets. When a vehicle blocks a footpath, pedestrians are forced to step onto the road in order to travel around the obstructing vehicle, resulting in them having to share the road with oncoming vehicles. Wheelchair users in particular will find it even more difficult as they will have to remain on the road until they find a dropped kerb that will give them access back onto the pavement.
It is also disheartening to see the amount of vehicles that park in front of dropped kerbs, thus blocking the only crossing point available to wheelchair users and the visually impaired. Dropped kerbs are designed to allow wheelchair and mobility scooter users access to a crossing point where a road separates a footpath. These are often found at key crossing points and not exclusively at zebra or pelican crossings. Dropped kerbs are also tiled with blistered paving as this alerts visually impaired people of the crossing that lays ahead. When blocking a dropped kerb with a vehicle, you are literary cutting off access to the other side of the road for some people.
Minister for Equality, the Hon Samantha Sacramento MP, said “It is very disappointing that people need to be reminded to be considerate to others, especially when their indiscriminate abuse of parking situations affects people with disabilities, but it is our collective duty and responsibility to do so. I am hopeful that this can be achieved through raising of awareness and discussion. The increase of fines for vehicles abusing accessible parking without a valid badge has had some success and I have asked the Ministry for Equality to consider similar tactics to curb this selfish practice and I look forward to receiving their recommendations”.