Mobility Parking for a wheelchair user isn't fun. Here's how it goes for me and many of my peers ...
I park in an approved mobility carpark, but if there is another car in the space next to me, I may not be able to get the door open, there wont be enough space between the two cars for my wheelchair, or for me to transfer. If I have parked in an angle park and the wheelchair is in the back, then it's traffic dodgems getting the wheelchair out of the back of the car/van/mobility vehicle and not being taken out by cars, trucks and buses going past. If I have parallel parked next to the kerb, and I'm driving, I can't get from the road onto the footpath in Invercargill as my wheelchair can't climb the kerb and there are no ramps. This is a daily occurrence, everywhere I travel in New Zealand.
The consequences of these transport access barriers include: getting injured; having to find a park further away; not being able to attend social events, appointments and functions; and having to return home.
It's frustrating, it's dangerous, and its discriminatory as it prevents me from taking part in ordinary, everyday activities. It also costs me more financially, as it takes longer for me to run errands because I have to pay for longer parking times. There is no "pop into the shops for a minute" when you're in a wheelchair.
I want new accessibility legislation to include a review of mobility carparking measurements.
I measured how long I need a carpark to be if I am unloading a wheelchair from the rear of a vehicle. It's a total seven metres, with me in a wheelchair, using a ramp or platform. Vehicle + Ramp + Wheelchair = 7 metres. This is about the same length as a campervan.
If I am transferring from either a passenger seat or driver's seat the calculation is: Car + Open door + Wheelchair positioned next to car for transfer = 5 metres.
Give me a call and I will show you the reality. We don't need a fancy OT telling us what we need. Just ask us. Let us show you how our world works.
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.