Beating the parking blues

Mark and Penny Pfitzner are helping to map disability parking spaces around the Barossa.

Disability accessible car parking around the Barossa is becoming easier to find as The Barossa Council’s Disability Access & Inclusion Advisory Group works towards recording disabled spaces in the mobile phone app ‘BlueBays’.

The free app was developed by the SA Department for Communities and Social Inclusion to help people with disabilities to share and locate accessible parking spaces around the state.

Mr Mark Pfitzner, along with wife, Penny have taken an active role in encouraging the mapping of spaces in the Barossa, having already completed Stockwell and parts of Nuriootpa.

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“It’s important that people with disabilities know that the app is available on phones and then they can look up where there might be blue bays near where they want to go,” said Penny, who lives with multiple sclerosis and regularly uses the app to find accessible parking.  

However, the process is highlighting that some disability parking spaces in the Barossa are not as functional as they should be, and that in some areas there just isn’t enough of them.

“Part of this mapping is going to bring up all the things that really need to be upgraded from the Council’s perspective,” said Mark.

“Signage is a really important part.”

While spaces in private car parks might be labelled as accessible, Mark explained that often they are not user-friendly, with spaces being on sloped ground or gravel.

“It’s got to be a flat area that has good signage and is probably bituminised so wheelchairs and walkers can operate fairly easily,” he said.

“It’s a matter of educating the community as to the needs of people with disabilities.”

Finding an available space can also be an issue, with limited parks to cater for disabled people who are out in the community living active and social lives.

Adding to the challenge are other motorists without genuine permits using the spaces.

The SA Government confirmed that it would be “happy to consider” strategies to put off other motorists abusing the use of disability parking spaces, after a recent call was made to increase the penalty to include demerit points as well as a fine.

“Disability carparks exist for good reason and it’s completely unacceptable that some motorists are using these spaces without permits,” said Minister for Human Services, Ms Michelle Lensink. 

A poll conducted by The Leader this week showed that 85 per cent of the 390 respondents agreed with harsher penalties for people being caught doing the wrong thing.

For people like Penny, the inability to find a space can often mean they have to “make do”.

“It’s definitely frustrating in that then we’ve got to park a lot further away, and because I still do like to try and walk to places, it means that it’s not so doable for me,” she said.

“At times there will be someone who thought they’re just nipping in for five minutes so it will be alright if they park there, but you just have to come at that time and there’s not spaces available, and the inconvenience is ours instead of theirs.”

The current fine within The Barossa Council for parking in an area for people with disabilities and failing to display a permit is $390.

Co-op to introduce fines for parking in disability spaces

The Barossa Co-op announced at its AGM in June it would be introducing fines for people parking in disabled spaces without a permit in its carparks.

CEO, Mr Neil Retallick said work to re-mark the spaces so they are clearly designated is underway, and signs at the entrance to the carparks will be installed to inform users that they will be liable for fines.

The Barossa Council will be responsible for monitoring, issuing and collecting the fines.

“It’s an issue,” said Mr Retallick. 

“In the 18 months I’ve been here there’s been consistent complaints that people park there who are not disabled.”

Mr Retallick said with the new line marking and signage there should be no excuse for motorists to confuse an accessible park with a regular space.

It is hoped that all the necessary signage will be in place soon with Council inspections to commence near the end of this month.