Aussie slams shopping centre parking spots - but can you see what's wrong with them?

A woman has pointed out a problem with these parks that people without mobility issues probably may not see.

An Aussie woman has slammed a shopping centre's disabled parking bays saying that while some people who don't have mobility issues may fail to see a problem with the spots, it is glaringly obvious to anyone who uses wheelchairs, walkers or crutches.

Nadine, who asked for her surname to be withheld, said the parking spots in the Castle Towers Shopping centre, in north west Sydney, were very "poorly designed", but she says that it's a problem she sees across the city.

The Sydneysider's sister was picking her up from the shopping centre, but all the wide disabled parking spaces had gone, leaving three cramped spots which didn't have enough space to get into the passenger side on crutches.

“She had to drive out of the park for me to get in as they were so tight,” Nadine — who has a short-term disabled permit after she was left with significant injuries when she fell onto concrete — told Yahoo News. “They are very tight parks."

An Aussie woman with a short-term disability permit has hit out at mobility parking at her local shopping centre. Source: Facebook
An Aussie woman with a short-term disability permit has hit out at mobility parking at her local shopping centre. Source: Facebook

She said the three disabled spots looked like they had been squeezed into the space to meet requirements, but because they had a trolley collection point next to them, trolleys were overflowing into the bays, making them even more narrow.

Nadine told Yahoo News Australia that it was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues with disabled parking and the worst thing is that "there's no care factor" from most people.

When she posted the photos on Facebook, many commented on the post agreeing with Nadine with one person saying: "I’m struggling very badly with spaces like this as I cannot get my wheelchair out".

"[They're] completely inaccessible for those of us with mobility aids," they said.

However, some argued that the spaces seemed better than many others they'd encountered.

When approached by Yahoo, Craig Brown, Castle Towers' general manager, said the centre's accessibility was "incredibly important" and there were 96 dedicated accessible parking spaces as required by legislation.

"Our accessible parking spaces are clearly marked and sized in accordance with Australian Standards to provide adequate space for people with disabilities to move safely in and out of their cars," he said.

“Our car parks are regularly patrolled by our dedicated security team along with our car park management contractor to ensure spaces are kept clear of obstructions and only utilised by customers displaying a valid disability parking permit."

Anyone having trouble accessing the spaces should contact the centre management, he said.

Nadine said this isn't the only problem she's had finding disabled parking, with people without permits often "abusing" the parks.

The yellow crisscrossed areas next to larger mobility parking bays were often cluttered with shopping trolleys or rubbish bins, making it near impossible for a disabled person to get into or out their car, she said.

A car incorrectly parked next to a disabled spot.
Nadine said abuse of mobility parking was common, especially with drivers illegally using spaces without the correct permits. Source: Supplied

"Delivery vehicles also park over the extra space left in reserve next to disabled parks. They are not there for mums with prams, or for someone to duck in to get a coffee, they are for people who need them. It happens all the time.

"Lately, I’ve had dozens of medical appointments and the abuse is ridiculous. It’s the minority, [but] it’s the sense of entitlement people have.”

People with Disability Australia president, Marayke Jonkers, a retired Paralympic swimmer who is paraplegic, said the problem was "Australia-wide" and something disabled people faced every day.

She said some disabled spaces at shopping centres were often no bigger than regular spots but were located closer to entrances and marked with the wheelchair symbol.

"For people with disabilities, we get used to these things, and that's not right," Jonkers told Yahoo News Australia. "There's also a big role for the community to play – allowing parking spaces that are accessible to remain that way."

She said she'd missed medical appointments where she needed to get a prescription – despite arriving in plenty of time – because she'd been unable to access a disability spot or get out of her car, due to a driver parking without a permit.

Marayke Jonkers in a flower crown (left) and holding up the Australian flag (right).
Marayke Jonkers said there should be more community awareness about disabled parking abuse. Source: Facebook

"It comes down to – what does it take to deter people from doing this? I suspect everybody knows it's not right.

"Even if they think: 'I'm only going to be half an hour' or, 'No one needed it at the time.' How do you know someone didn't need it and got stuck?"

Peter Lane-Collett, an admin of Facebook group Australian Disability Parking Wall of Shame, said reporting misbehaviour can also be a minefield as often a council or enforcement officer need to respond straight a way to "catch the driver in the act", while a photo may not be legally acceptable as evidence to issue a fine.

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