Disability and the Blue Badge Crisis

I hate blue badges. Well that’s a bit strong, I dislike them, well that’s not right either. I actually have no problem at all with the blue badge concept, a person with mobility issues or a physical or mental disability should be allowed bigger parking bays. They absolutely should be allowed to be nearer whatever attraction they are visiting. I’m not sure I agree with free parking, but lets leave that for another blog!

My problem is the wide scale abuse of the system, and what seems to me poor regulation. We have all seen a Porsche or Ferrari in a disabled bay because the owner doesn’t want any one else parking too close. That’s not what I’m talking about here. What I don’t like is the handing out of passes to everyone with a creaky sandal.

For example I was chatting to a gentleman, not so long ago, let’s call him Bob. Now Bob explained to me how due to being overweight he required a heart bypass. He was given a disabled badge and ever since he hasn’t had to pay for parking (on street) and regularly uses all the advantages of bigger and closer disabled parking bays. Bob runs his own business and is fairly successful, so he doesn’t need the free parking… but as I said let’s leave the free parking for now.

What I haven’t mentioned is that Bob had his heart bypass six years ago. The reason he has never given his disabled badge back? The council have never asked for it, Bob openly admits he doesn’t need it. He has changed his lifestyle, he is relatively fit and healthy, he goes walking at the weekends.

What he doesn’t realise is that there are limited disabled bays, and someone somewhere really needs that space. DDA regulations (Disability Discrimination Act) state that 3% of all car parking spaces should be disabled. In a 500-space car park that’s only 15 bays!

I see disabled badges for all sorts now, even though the DDA guidelines clearly state to qualify for a badge you must “have a permanent and substantial disability which means they cannot walk, or which makes walking very difficult:” a bad knee in my opinion does not qualify.

I think we have developed a culture of blame and laziness, who decides if you are disabled or not? And who regulates that decision? But most importantly who carries out a review six months or a year down the line. Effectively being dishonest with your disabled badge is stealing from the government. Too extreme? Maybe but you can see my point.

A recent survey suggested that at least 50% or all blue badges are being used dishonestly. That’s one in every two badge holders!

There needs to be regulation, and that’s across the board, some councils the persons picture is on the badge, along with the registration number of the vehicle. Others a barely visible expiry date.

If we are going to have disabled bays, and going to ‘police’ them then lets have a solid back office system to support the ground teams. After all aren’t we supposed to be providing good customer service?

Anyway that’s enough about blue badges, I’ve got to go and finish my letter to the council, I have shin splints again…

1 reply
  1. Ian Todd
    Ian Todd says:

    I agree that the DDA regulations don’t go far enough with the amount of allocated disable spaces. 3% is a very low figure. With a fully automated parking system such as our 5BY2 system, all of the spaces can comply with DDA regulations so there can be 100% of car parking spaces allocated as disabled parking spaces not just 3%.
    In a 5BY2 system you simply park your car in the parking module (very similar to a large private garage) where a series of sensors linked to a display guide you to the correct parking position. The parking module is very spacious, well lit and provides plenty of room for wheelchair access all around the vehicle if required. The door opening where the car has just driven through is typically about 2.5m wide so there is plenty of room for you to enter and leave the parking module too.
    Once you have left the parking module and confirmed everything is in order, i.e. you’ve applied the hand brake, there’s no one left in the car, etc. the module door closes and your car is parked in the system with no further human intervention. There are no driveways, ramps, lighting, ventilation or personnel required.
    The parking modules can be located where it is convenient for you to park too, even if the main internal parking area is some distance from the modules. The 5BY2 system can also accommodate large cars and 4x4s so there’s no issues with large cars with plenty of storage space.
    To retrieve your car you simply pay for your parking ticket if it’s a public car park, or use some form of pass card system if it’s a private car park, then wait in a secure, well lit waiting area for your car to be retrieved. You are informed which parking module your car has been delivered to via a display in the waiting area and when you reach the parking module your vehicle is waiting for you, facing the right direction, ready to drive out. When the vehicle has left the parking module sensors check the module is clear before closing the module door then the module is ready for the next vehicle.
    There are numerous other user and sustainable benefits too.

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