Please can you tell me what I can do to stop drivers parking in blue spots and make sure they get prosecuted? I have been taking photos and posting them on Facebook so have evidence that police could use.
Auntie’s answer: What a well-timed question, coming on the heels of last week’s passing of the Disabilities Bill in the Legislative Assembly (See Solomon Webster disabilities bill passes unanimously).
But before I answer, I feel I should offer full disclosure: As pet peeves go, able drivers who park in handicapped – or blue – spots fall very near or at the top of my list. I hedge my bets slightly because there are clearly worse offences that people can be guilty of, but on an everyday basis, this one has the potential to affect a fair number of some of our most vulnerable residents. I have also written about this issue before (See Misuse of handicapped parking spots).
To reiterate my opinion, there is no excuse for able-bodied drivers parking in a blue spot – not rain, not lack of availability of regular spaces, not “I’m only parking for a minute” or “I’m picking someone up”. When a disabled person needs to park, they need to park. His or her need beats everyone else’s convenience. Every time. End of story.
Despite, and maybe because of, my strong feelings, I decided to let Chelsea Rivers, a well-known advocate of the rights of people with disabilities to answer your question. Ms Rivers is the founder of The Blue Spot Facebook page, which you referred to in your question and is dedicated to “naming and shaming” drivers who illegally park in spots designated for disabled people.
“Unfortunately we have not been able to come to an agreement with the RCIPS in terms of prosecuting offenders,” Ms Rivers said, explaining that the police have advised they cannot issue tickets based on photos.
While pointing out the clear photographic evidence of a car with exposed licence plate parking illegally in a handicapped spot, Ms Rivers acknowledged that there would be no corresponding confirmation of the timing of the offence.
“But we’ve offered our assistance – even suggesting several ‘deputised citizens’ like ourselves who would be happy to police regular offending places,” she said.
Along those lines, The Blue Spot has created flyers that can be downloaded from its Facebook page to place on a windscreen that tell the offender he or she has done something illegal. “The police have advised that they will show up to ticket the vehicle once called. And sometimes they actually do. If you wait long enough,” Ms Rivers explained.
She added that the RCIPS is “very familiar” with the dissatisfaction of the process expressed by advocates like herself and the lack of what they would consider “a real effort to enforce the law and give it the teeth it needs”.
But there is reason for optimism that this situation could improve. She said she has been approached by the police to have the RCIPS, The Blue Spot and the Special Needs Foundation join together to “educate, revamp spaces, and even meet with planning (who doesn’t provide enforcement of the spaces once the certificate of occupancy is given)”.
Ms Rivers explained the last point refers to the problem of an establishment satisfying the requirement of providing handicapped parking but, in some cases, converting those spaces back to a regular spot after planning approval has been granted. And there is no apparent follow-up to confirm continued compliance.
At this point, I feel it is important to at least maintain a public conversation about this issue and continue to hope that with education and awareness, we will eventually run out of drivers to name and shame.
Category: Ask Auntie