I am constantly astounded by the number of so-called ‘able-bodied’ people who park in disabled parking bays. This is an incredibly selfish thing to do and I’m going to explain to you why…
I am a full-time wheelchair user. I am also fortunate enough to have a car, which has been extensively modified so that I can drive it.
In order for me to climb out of my car I need to park the wheelchair alongside the driver’s side door and transfer across to it. This necessitates a parking space at least 50% wider than a regular bay. In addition, I am not very strong and get tired quite quickly if I have to push my wheelchair over great distances. Fortunately most disabled bays are at the entrances to shopping centres.
This morning I went to my local shopping centre Hyde Park Corner in Johannesburg to pick something up from my bank. What I hadn’t factored in was that Hyde Park is hosting the Sanlam FoodWineDesign show this weekend and the parking is a nightmare.
Any disabled person who frequents Hyde Park will know that this is one of the better shopping centres in Joburg with regards to the number of disabled bays available. There are at least two disabled bays at almost every entrance to the centre.
However on this particular Saturday morning they were all full. And not one of the cars I saw had a disabled sticker displayed.
From this I can only assume that these cars belonged to able-bodied people who, tired of driving around trying to find a parking spot, decided to take what was readily available, namely the disabled bays.
After driving around in circles I finally realised I was fighting a losing battle and would just have to leave. Next problem – how to pay at the machine when I couldn’t even get out of the car? Fortunately I was able to find a helpful parking attendant who offered to go and pay for me while I waited with my flashers on.
I am sure those able-bodied people who illegally use the disabled bays rationalise to themselves that they’re only going to be a few minutes or that there are other disabled bays available in the complex. These really aren’t good excuses. In fact there are no excuses for using disabled bays when you don’t have to!
Next time you decide to park in a disabled bay, please stop and think about what people like me go through. In a parking garage of hundreds or even thousands of parking spots, I have a choice of probably only eight to 10 accessible bays. If these aren’t available I have to go home.