Disabled parking spaces are a hot button trigger for a lot of people. Disabled people getting really frustrated, and able-bodied people finding it difficult to understand why blue badge ('disabled permit/placard') holders are getting quite so irate about a minor parking infringement.
So let's have a look at things. Here are the usual reasons people give for parking illegally in a disabled parking spot, and a quick explanation of why it's just not okay.
1. I was only going to be five minutes.
You were only parked there for a second, really. Why is that man giving you evil looks? He can't have had to wait long, after all.
So, if I came and parked my car on your drive 'only for five minutes', would you think that was okay? Or would you think that was really inappropriate? I mean, even if you wanted to get in or out of your drive at that time, it's not like I'm making you wait too long, is it? And quite likely, you wouldn't want to come in and out at that time, so what's the problem?
But if someone did that to you once, you'd be fairly annoyed. And if people did it over and
over again, you'd be really pissed off (even if it were a different person each time - see #2). Equally, if it's not that big a deal, why haven't you parked blocking in cars belonging to non-disabled people? You're only being five minutes, so you probably wouldn't cause them any inconvenience. And yet I have never, ever, seen anyone choose to do that instead. Why not? Why is it okay to inconvenience disabled people but not people without a disability? Think about that...
2. I've never parked here before. It was just this once.
Maybe it is 'just this once' for you. But it's not 'just this once' that a disabled person hasn't been able to get into a parking spot because someone able-bodied (or a non-blue badge holder, if you want to be precise) has parked there.
Consider the number of blue badge holders in comparison to the number of non-holders. If each person without a blue badge parked in a disabled space 'just this once' then there would never ever be any spaces. Ever. If you could do it, so could all of them. It's not okay.
3. I would move if anyone needed the space.
Ah, what I call 'the taxi driver excuse'. You're in the car, so if someone who needs the spot comes, you can move, yes?
Let's think about that for a second. Bearing in mind you can't necessarily see if someone is disabled by looking at them, how on earth do you think you're going to be able to tell by their car? Or are you saying that a disabled person has to park somewhere else, get out of the car and manoeuvre themselves across to you, to explain that they have trouble moving, then go back to their car and get back in and return to the spot? Seriously, guys, in what universe is that reasonable?
4. I'm currently injured/ill, so I have every right to park here.
You've gone on holiday, skiing, and broken your ankle. You're now disabled, so you have just as much right to that spot as someone with a long term or permanent disability.
My dear reader, it really isn't the same. And it's a quite easy thing to understand: if you don't have a badge, don't park there. I have been disabled for more than 20 years, but only had a blue badge for less than 10 (the time at which I managed to jump through all of the council's figurative hoops in order to demonstrate that jumping through actual hoops was beyond me). Believe it or not, it never even occurred to me to park in a disabled parking spot. Because I didn't have the right to park there.
Again, let me take you into an analogy. You've gone on holiday, and someone's stolen £100 of yours. You come back and steal £20 from someone totally different, because you have the right to that money. You've had more than that stolen from you, after all. But actually, having something (your mobility) stolen from you doesn't give you any right to steal from someone else (the parking space). What's more, you're going to get your something back to you, whereas most of us aren't - and certainly not as quickly as you are.
I was going to write a post on the most ridiculous reasons I've heard people give for parking in a disabled spot, but I realised that so many people appear to think that it's normal behaviour that I needed to address the usual suspects first. (Hang on, and you might get the ridiculous reasons in a later article ;) ) It's really not okay, and I hope this helps some people understand why.
Be happy. Don't park in disabled spots.