Parking needs of disabled drivers ignored

 

Sir, – Five months ago I was injured as a pedestrian in a road traffic accident, and I sustained injuries which have severely impacted my mobility. I have experienced an insight into what it is like to live with a disability.

I was granted a disability parking permit, and I’ve been both shocked and appalled at what I’ve witnessed since. On one occasion I’ve returned to the car in a wheelchair with my carer, only to discover a brand new shiny BMW parked partially in the wheelchair accessible space, blocking the space for me to get in. I have since realised this “partial” parking, ie blocking accessible spaces, to be the norm. On an alarmingly regular basis I witness people who do not display permits parking in these spaces. I have seen a very able-bodied individual park in such a space and run across the road and into the shop! I have often not been able to go into a shop as a result of this behaviour if I did not have a wheelchair with me, as I can’t walk the longer distances on my crutches.

I am aghast at the selfishness of individuals who do this. I never appreciated the frequency of which people park in a space clearly not for them, until my own independence depended on the ability to park in these spots. Flashing the car lights or running hurriedly to the shop in minimal time doesn’t excuse this behaviour! I genuinely believe that people who have once or regularly park in these spaces do not realise that their doing so is consequently taking other people’s independence from them.

I urge individuals who have ever or may ever consider parking in disability-accessible spaces to have some integrity. It could be your daughter, son, mother, father or grandmother who may need to genuinely use the space. Perhaps even be yourself some day. I never thought someone pulling in quickly to an accessible space would be the thing that prevents me from my one walk in the shop for the week, the thing that gives me my sense of independence. I know I took for granted the gift it is to be able to walk through the car park or down the road to my destination. Appreciate your ability to walk or run to the shops. You don’t want to be the person that needs to park in the space nearest the door which you consider convenient. – Yours, etc,

ANN MARIE GAVIN,

Fardrum,

Athlone, Co Westmeath,