An elderly Aussie is fuming after an opportunistic driver forced him to abandon his walking frame due to their "selfish" parking at a local shopping centre, with authorities doing little to curb his frustration.
"When I came back the other two cars were there and what annoyed me was the fact that the first white car next to me was actually on the dividing line between those two parking bays," he told Yahoo News Australia. "What an idiot!"
Laine confirmed the offending car had a disability parking permit on display which enraged him even more, saying the "ridiculous" driver "should have known better."
"I actually use a walking frame to walk but there was no space, I struggled to get into my car."
Issue is a never-ending battle for disabled community
Not only do the disabled community contend with non-permit holders using disabled parking bays, the issue of drivers — both with and without permits — taking advantage and parking in the extra space in between disabled parking bays is a relatively common one.
"I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me over the last 30 plus years. It's horrible," disability activist and wheelchair user James Wood told Yahoo News, recalling a similar instance.
"The car had parked in between me and another car in a wheelchair spot ... I tried to get the shopping centre to announce the number plate information but there was no response. I waited for nearly three hours for this person to come out."
There are several reasons why disabled parking is vital for those in the community, with many relying on them at public facilities to access and enjoy these areas at all.
"Disabled parking bays are extra wide for a reason, and people need them to be close to the entrance to minimise the distance they travel... many need to be able to get the door open to its widest," Wood said.
Authorities fail to 'take responsibility' despite Aussies struggle
The 71-year-old claims he contacted local council and police over the matter at the time, however, both allegedly said they were unable to assist due to the incident occurring on private property owned by the shopping centre.
Laine reached out to mall management, but has not heard back despite chasing a response, and in a final quest for accountability reached out to Yahoo News.
"I don't believe authorities take this seriously enough, I really don't. Obviously the shopping centres don't give a damn," he said. "It's a principle, nobody was taking responsibility for making sure people don't do that. It really affects people."
Yahoo News has contacted Campbelltown Mall management but the centre is yet to comment on the problem.
Both Laine and Wood believe more needs to be done to ensure that these disabled parking spots not only exist, but correct use is enforced. Installing "poles between wheelchair bays" is a suggested fix to the problem.
"Shopping centres provide wheelchair parking because they have to but that's where it stops," Wood said.
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