The Daily Fail has a little maths problem. OK, they have a little everything problem, but in this particular case, well, you be the judge: Revealed: Why all those disabled bays stay empty
Hundreds of thousands of prime parking spaces in shopping centres are unused because of a legal obligation to provide four times as many disabled bays than are actually needed.
Supermarkets, shopping centres and leisure centres must allocate up to 6 per cent of their parking bays for disabled badge holders – even though just 1.4 per cent of the population is registered disabled*. […]
Campaigners are furious at the number of vacant disabled bays and believe more should be done to tilt the balance in favour of drivers with young children.
OK, so let’s do the math. On a small scale, anyhow. My family is 33.3% disabled. When we go out together, we need accessible parking 100% of the time. Oh, and we’re one of those mythical families, Daily Mail writers, that includes both a PWD and a young child. I know you think we don’t exist. But we’re right here.
Extrapolate up through the population, and suddenly those 6% figures (which only apply to small lots in the UK – large lots only need 4%) don’t look so excessive, do they?
Here’s another thing: When nondisabled people can’t find a space close by, they park further away and walk. When a disabled person can’t find an accessible space, she turns around and goes home. If the math doesn’t convince you, the social justice should.
In Australia? Only 1-2% – ONE to TWO PERCENT – of spaces are required to be accessible. 4% of Australians require accessible parking (do the math – this means that more than 4% of vehicles may contain a PWD who needs the accessibility), and that number is rising. AFDO recommends that a ratio of 10% may be more appropriate.
Many small businesses, including medical clinics, have no accessible parking at all. Many designated marked spaces do not meet standards and may not be accessible for all PWD – not wide enough, heavily sloping, blocked or non-existent access lanes and kerb cuts, further away from entrances than the “non-accessible” spots (I’m looking at you, IKEA), and so on.
“Cracking down” on parking permit abuse makes currently-nondisabled folks feel righteous, but it doesn’t do the job. We need more spaces, and we need compliant spaces.
*I’m assuming the 1.4% applies to those with blue badges in the UK, since around 20% of the population actually has a disability.