The following is a guest post by Christine Sumpter. (Yes, she is my mum!)
My husband has a blue badge and a Motability car. He has a badly damaged spine and scar tissue on his nerves. Yes, sometimes he can walk without the aid of his stick, with a pronounced limp and the ever-present danger of stumbling or his leg giving way completely. He is stubborn and often walks more than he should, choosing to ignore the pain. He gets ‘looks’ from other disabled parkers, particularly older people, mainly because he doesn’t look very disabled and he looks like the proverbial ‘plumber with a bad back.’ Actually he is an ex-plumber with a severely damaged back. And how can anyone tell from looking how much pain he is suffering?
There seems to be a common misunderstanding of the nature of mobility problems. Our local supermarket has located the blue badge parking spaces on both sides of a central walkway extending nearly to the far edge of the car park. It seems that they are under the misapprehension that all disabled parkers are wheelchair users and can manage the distance. Disabled people who can walk (after a fashion) also need to be able to open car doors fully and, more importantly, need to park near the building. The supermarket put a metal bollard in the centre of the crossing place from the car park, and it had to be pointed out to them by a friend of mine that her blind (and lame) husband kept falling over it. In icy conditions the path is gritted but those vital areas between the bays are not, neither is snow cleared from them.
There does not seem to be any policing of disabled parking bays so that on rainy days most of the spaces near the building are occupied by anyone who doesn’t want to get wet, leaving the people entitled to parking there to make the long, soggy trek from the other end of the walkway. And the disabled parking bays are used as an unofficial staff car park for the night shift, presumably because they think that disabled people don’t go out after dark.