Acrod ac­cess de­nied

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS -

CHANGES to the reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing Acrod park­ing bays have ex­ac­er­bated an al­ready dire sit­u­a­tion for WA driv­ers liv­ing with mo­bil­ity is­sues, says dis­abled ac­cess ac­tivist Peter Har­ris.

Mr Har­ris has been paral­ysed from the waist down since fall­ing from his bal­cony in a paint­ing ac­ci­dent in 1973.

Al­though wheel­chair-bound, Mr Har­ris has main­tained an ac­tive life­style and reg­u­larly drives all over the city.

In re­cent times, it has be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for the 84-year-old to find a suit­able place to park his car, with the new con­fig­u­ra­tion of 2.4m Acrod bays sep­a­rated by 2.4m of shared space slash­ing the avail­able park­ing.

“The old 3.3m wide space has al­ways been enough for me and you could park hug­ging ei­ther line de­pend­ing on how your car is con­fig­ured,” Mr Har­ris said. “For just two bays, 7.2m is an un­nec­es­sary waste.

“The empty space, which con­tains a bol­lard, seems to be de­signed by peo­ple with no ex­pe­ri­ence at all as

d448463 a dis­abled driver. “

Mr Har­ris first en­coun­tered the new con­fig­u­ra­tion dur­ing a trip to Fiona Stan­ley Hos­pi­tal. Since then, his lo­cal se­nior cit­i­zens cen­tre has also adopted the con­fig­u­ra­tion, re­duc­ing the num­ber of bays from seven to four.

“From my ob­ser­va­tions, at least 80 per cent of Acrod per­mit hold­ers do not use a wheel­chair any­way and so don’t re­quire so much ex­tra space,” Mr Har­ris said.

Na­tional Dis­abil­ity Ser­vices WA could not ver­ify the per­cent­age of Acrod per­mit hold­ers who use a wheel­chair but op­er­a­tions man­ager Frances Buchanan said the num­ber of per­mit hold­ers in the state had jumped al­most 17 per cent from 65,000 in 2013 to 76,000 at the start of 2016.

“There are more peo­ple with per­mits due to an age­ing pop­u­la­tion and an in­crease in chronic ill­ness across life­span,” she said. “The dif­fer­ence be­tween a wheel­chair user and a per­son who walks with as­sis­tance is not re­flec­tive of the ac­tual dif­fi­culty peo­ple may have.”

Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek

Dis­abled ac­cess ac­tivist Peter Har­ris.

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