Acrod bay sys­tem rife with flaws

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Josh Zimmerman

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.”

Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d449473

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.

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