Witnessing abuse of accessible parking spaces is a regular occurrence for those people who hold disabled parking permits according to one Bendigo wheelchair user.
Sara McQueenie has questioned whether there is enough accessible parking in greater Bendigo following an incident on Monday when wheelchair user Jon Parker returned to his car park to find his access blocked by a car which had parked across his spot and another.
A former chair of City of Greater Bendigo’s Disability Inclusion Reference Committee Ms McQueenie said she regularly sees people without permits using disabled parking spaces in Bendigo.
Mr Parker described himself as “peeved” by the incident at Bendigo Primary Care, but said he faces similar problems on a regular basis.
Ms McQueenie said she often sees people abuse accessible parking spots by parking without a disability permit, and regularly struggles to find a parking spot herself.
When she drives Ms McQueenie needs a certain amount of space to the right side of her car to assemble her wheelchair.
She recalls at one point having to ask a stranger to reverse her car in a supermarket car park, when she returned to find her access blocked.
“Often you feel vulnerable and stand out anyway being in a wheelchair, so having to ask a stranger… to reverse your car, you’re putting a lot of trust in that individual,” Ms McQueenie said.
“It’s intimidating, you feel angry, there are a whole range of emotions that you go through, but the reality is that you just want to get out of there after you shop.”
COGB issues an average of four infringement notices per month for improper use of accessible parking bays in the central business district. Both COGB and Victoria Police can monitor compliance with accessible parking.
Ms McQueenie also questioned whether there was enough accessible parking spaces available in central Bendigo. She said she often struggles to find a park in the CBD in busy areas, such as around the library, near the gallery and at the Marketplace.
For manual wheelchair users the ability to park close to where they are going is important, because travelling long distances can cause fatigue and pain in their arms and shoulders, Ms McQueenie said.
Bendigo’s CBD contains 100 council-controlled accessible parking spaces out of its 4,950 bays.
In particular Ms McQueenie said there was a need for extended length car parks, particularly for electronic wheelchair users.
Being unable to park can cause her frustration and fatigue, depending on the situation.
“It’s an added frustration,” Ms McQueenie said.
“It’s just the mental fatigue that one has to put into the planning for any event.
“You always have to plan your trips in advance. Is there going to be a park? Do you have to do it at a non busy time? There’s a whole lot of mental management that goes prior to being out at any event.”
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