Sunday, 23 March 2014

Blue Badge Blues

Addressing a few Blue Badge Concerns

It isn't fair. Why should disabled people get special treatment?

Without disabled spaces I and many disabled people wouldn't be able to park and get out. Perhaps some people think it would be ok for disabled people to be housebound simply for the lack of disabled spaces. But this is what equality is. Equality of opportunity. Disabled spaces don't make disabled people better off. They mean they have the same opportunity to leave the house and go in shops, hospitals etc as non disabled people.

There are far too many blue badge spaces. They aren't needed.

I and many other disabled people would disagree. Given that we are the ones using them, we are probably more aware of the times they are full than non disabled drivers, who, in turn, are more likely to grumble when they see them empty but never notice when they are full.
I can't count the number of times we have been unable to park. The difference with a non disabled person is that if there is no disabled parking space, I have to go home. I can't park further away, or in a different car park.
So there should always be a free space. If there isn't then the next disabled person to come along may have to go back home.

Too many people abuse blue badges. You see them getting out of their cars, looking fine and walking off.

Yes, blue badge abuse does happen and it should be tackled. Far too often I see blue badge spaces taken up by cars which are not displaying a blue badge. And yes, there are also cases of people using blue badges inappropriately.  However this is a minority.

You do not have to be a wheelchair user to need a blue badge. You do not even have to have a mobility aid. A lot of people "look fine" but still have a lot of trouble walking. Among other things this could be due to breathing problems, heart problems, pain or exhaustion.

Many of these get worse the more you walk. So such people could look really good when they first get out and get worse and worse as they struggle round the shop. They may run out of steam and need to get back to the car early and so it needs to be close by for them as getting across the car park would simply be too much effort.

So please don't judge or abuse blue badge users. If they are displaying a valid blue badge, then that should be accepted, even with doubts. The problem otherwise is that genuine disabled people are constantly harangued and become scared to go out.
The only people who could arguably be challenged are those parking without displaying a blue badge.

I hate these people who get to the supermarket, use their blue badge and then walk for miles round the shop. If they can do that then they don't need a blue badge.

I've already touched on this in the previous answer, but this is something a non disabled person who has little limits on their time or distance on their feet has great trouble understanding.
15 years ago when I was still walking with a stick, from the moment I got out from the car I was on the clock, both time wise and distance wise.

I had to carefully plan my route through the shop. If I forgot something in an aisle, then tough. I couldn't go back and get it, otherwise I wouldn't make it back to the car. That extra distance of walking back to the aisle and back again would have tipped me over my limit.

Likewise with time. Out of the car: "tick-tock, tick-tock". To the entrance: "tick-tock, tick-tock" Round the shop: "tick-tock, tick tock".
At this point I would start looking at the queue. If it was long I would have to abandon my shopping even if it wasn't completely finished because you know, Stand in queue: "tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock". And finally, back to the car: "tick-tock, tick-tock"

This is why I needed a blue badge. That extra distance to and back to the car made all the difference. Yes, to you it might "only" be 100 feet, but to me that might be a whole third of the total distance I was actually able to walk and/or the time I was able to stay on my feet. Take that off my "useful" shopping distance /time and I wouldn't get any shopping done at all.

Additionally there were times where I started off ok, but ran out of time and had to struggle back to the car. If it had been further away I simply wouldn't have made it but would have had to collapse wherever I was (this did happen a couple of times before I got my blue badge).

I hate these people who use a stick to walk and then get into the shop and miraculously recover and put it in their shopping trolleys!

I did this. A shopping trolley is exactly the right height to lean on. It is a brilliant ready made zimmer frame. I could walk far longer leaning on a trolley than I could walking with my stick.

Disabled people who don't drive shouldn't have blue badges.

I can't drive but still need a blue badge.
See above for when I was walking with a stick and could only walk a limited distance and spend a very short time on my feet. We couldn't afford to waste that crossing the car park. Likewise, unless there was somewhere to sit, I couldn't be dropped off and wait around while my friend/relative parked elsewhere.
I also needed the extra space surrounding the car in order to get out (I wasn't very mobile). This is even more true now that I use a wheelchair (whether it is manual or electric).

However, the blue badge most ONLY be used if I am going to be a passenger in the car AND I am getting in or out of the car.
So someone can use it to park and come and pick me up, or use it to drop me off. It cannot be used at any other time. To do so is an offence.


  1. YES!

    Re shopping with is nigh on impossible to shop with a stick WITHOUT using a trolley. If you use one stick, you've got that in one hand and the basket in the other, and so you haven't got a free hand to pick anything up with, and if you're using two sticks, then you haven't got a hand for a basket. I had a GIANT argument with a cashier in Sainsbury's about this (I had two sticks in trolley and four items that otherwise would have fitted in a basket) - she didn't want me to go through the "basket only" checkout, even though the elderly lady ahead of me had done the same thing.

    I don't use blue badge spaces on the days (few and far between) when I can walk further - and actually don't tend to use them at my preferred supermarket because there's a row of "standard" spaces that work better for me than the majority of the blue badge spaces.

  2. Great post and great answers. Both my hubby and myself are disabled and are fed up to the back teeth with trying to find a disabled space to park for shopping. When we have to park a lot further away then we go home instead and see if we have the energy to go early evening instead, which is mainly a no-no except on rare occasions.
    We've gone past cars in the disabled bays when we've parked in them and you can guarantee that more than half of the cars don't display a blue badge!
    My husband has COPD and has back and leg problems - these conditions mean we have to be able to plan our shopping trips - I have a false leg and various other conditions but am unable to walk far. My leg needs to be off me for long periods due to pain and then we have to make sure that we can manage a short shop, or the doctors, the hospitals for appointments etc.
    I'm sometimes glad that we have nice days in the spring and winter were I can wear my knee length trousers and people can see my false leg - it's purple and sparkly with a little white rabbit on it :) This way seems to be the only way that people accept that I am disabled, and don't look at me when I'm getting out of the car as though I am taking up a disabled space. It also stops people from talking "over" me when I am in the wheelchair - I may be sitting down but I'm still there *sighs*
    Anyway, thanks for a great post.

  3. I only challenge folks if I don't see a blue badge and even then I don't ask directly about disability. I remind the person that they've forgotten to put their badge on display. I've forgotten to do so and I suspect most other blue badge users have at some point or another. I still remember the "you're faking" looks when I walked unaided and see no reason to put anyone else through that. Every time I realise after the fact that I've forgotten to put mine up (in the US, blue badges are usually placards that you hang off the rearview mirror, but that means you can't have it up while driving), I'm mortified. If someone else noticed, I'd really appreciate if they treated me with respect so that's my motivation for doing the same. Now, if someone admits they don't have one and are parking there for convenience, I have no problems with laying into them. I know a guy who once blocked a paratransit bus (specialty transport for disabled people) in and called the news when the driver parked in a blue badge space just to run into a store to get a drink for himself. The vehicle had disabled plates, doesn't mean the driver was allowed to park there for his own purposes (since he didn't qualify for one due to any disability of his own).

    The only times I get short with people from the beginning is when they park on the cross-hatches between spaces. I don't know how often that happens in the UK, but in the US, I see that happen far more than I see cars parked without a blue badge (or license plates that show eligibility). I don't care if they have a badge or not; it's illegal here and I've been parked in multiple times when people have done so. One time the guy tried to just pull forward into the cross-hatches for the space the next row over and only really moved when he realized that I was pulling my mobile up to call the non-emergency police line. I've gotten into fights with my father over it when he wanted to do so when I was in the car and there were no open blue badge spaces. When I drove regularly, I kept a pad of paper in my car specifically for leaving notes on people's cars when it came to things like that.

  4. I totally agree with all your points, and I'd add on the supermarket front - walking inside a supermarket, on even ground, with a trolley to lean on, can sometimes take less effort than walking outside with a stick - I know I have slightly longer in me under those circumstances - it doesn't mean I'm not still clock-watching, but at least I have more of a chance of getting my shop completed before the pain or fatigue becomes too great.

  5. I have had a Blue Badge and now the council led assessor considers that I cannot have a renewal even though I have to use a walking stick to stop me going down when my legs give way without warning. This because I walked there from the bus stop and did the test walk for them without faltering. I wish I didn't have to use a walking stick but when the legs give way, I would more than likely end up on the floor. I have appealed against their decision but to no avail.
    What can I do?