Acrod bay system rife with flaws
A QUADRIPLEGIC and a former multi-purpose taxi driver have joined calls for reform of the current Acrod Parking Program in WA.
They say that a severe lack of bays is compounded by lax regulation of permit holders and a lack of consequences for people parking in Acrod spaces without permits.
While both men are in favour of the new Acrod bay configuration, which calls for an empty space between bays to allow easy access for side-entry cars, they say it does not address the major safety issues still faced by those travelling in the far more common rear-entry vehicle.
Cloverdale resident Eric Cook has been wheelchair bound since seriously injuring his spine in a car accident 18 years ago.
Former St James taxi driver Mark Dungey ferried Mr Cook to and from hundreds of locations in a rear-entry vehicle he drove for Black and White Cabs.
“The biggest issue with a rearentry car is that Acrod bays are not deep enough for the person in the wheelchair to back out safely,” Mr Dungey said.
“There is always a stream of traffic going past right where you are trying to get people off and other drivers just don’t seem to care that you have a wheelchair-bound person trying to dodge traffic as they get out of the vehicle.”
Mr Cook now owns a side-entry car and called the new Acrod bay configuration a step in the right direction but said it did nothing to address other underlying problems.
“It doesn’t solve the overall issue that one, there are not enough bays, and two, there are too many people who don’t really require Acrod permits that have them,” he said.
“The Acrod system needs to be revamped and brought in line with modern times and requirements.
“It is too easy for a person with a temporary disability, maybe after a hip or knee operation, to continually renew their permit even once their condition has improved.”
There were just over 76,000 Acrod permit holders in WA at the end of 2015, the equivalent of 3 per cent of the State’s population, and close to 1000 new applications are received each month.
Despite this, the Building Code of Australia specifies that just 2 per cent of parking bays in retail commercial centres (up to 1000 bays) be set aside for people with disabilities. After the first 1000 bays, only 1 per cent is required.
“Mothers with prams seem to get 20 bays at every shopping centre, in a prime location,” Mr Dungey said.
“Then they will have two Acrod bays. Mothers with prams make the shopping centres money, people with disabilities maybe not as much.” A National Disability Services spokeswoman disputed Mr Cook’s claim that getting an Acrod parking permit was too easy.
“The application and renewal process for Acrod permits is rigorous and comprehensive,” she said.
“There is no automatic renewal process. When a permit expires the permit holder must provide new medical evidence from a healthcare professional (a GP or occupational therapist) that they are either unable to walk or their ability to walk is severely restricted.
“Temporary permits are issued if an applicant has a medical condition that is expected to severely affect their ability to walk for at least six months.
“When it expires, the permit holder can apply for their permit to be renewed, and must provide new evidence from a GP or occupational therapist attesting to their condition.”
The spokeswoman acknowledged that a shortage of Acrod parking was a growing problem and said the best way to improve the issue was through more rigorous monitoring of bays.
“We believe the monitoring and enforcement of fines to ensure that Acrod bays are available to those who need them is under-resourced,” she said.
“Currently the enforcement process is hit and miss. Some local governments send rangers to regularly monitor Acrod bays; others do it rarely – and many illegal parkers count on this.
“While the maximum courtimposed penalty for illegally parking in an Acrod bay has recently been increased to $2000, this is only effective as a deterrent if it is regularly applied.”
Former taxi driver Mark Dungey and quadriplegic Eric Cook are frustrated by Acrod parking in Perth.
Inconsiderate parking in an Acrod bay at Phoenix Shopping Centre.