Blue Badge parking and COVID-19. Two very different things, but one has drastically affected the other.
How many shops have you gone to and found this?
Fenced off disabled bays to make way for queuing. Whilst it’s easy to think “social distancing and queuing are vital to prevent the spread of COVID-19”, disregarding a large group of customers is not the answer.
Why is this happening?
Many stores have reduced their capacity to help with social distancing. This results in queuing to enter the store. To allow social distancing, some stores have marked out a queuing area in their car park blocking out vital disabled bays.
And it’s not just for queuing. As more restaurants and cafes have opened, some encouraging customers to sit outside, allowing for more socially distanced seating. This has resulted in some smaller street-front cafés taking over Blue Badge on-street parking for table space.
What’s wrong with that?
You might think that because social distancing is essential, these changes can be forgiven.
But Blue Badge parking bays are vital. They are not just desired for more convenient parking. The extra space around the car enables disabled people to get equipment out of the car and use ramps to assist.
They are also in close proximity to the store(s) which helps those with limited mobility to get where they want to go without causing more discomfort.
AccessAble Champion Holly Greader covers more about the importance of Blue Badge and accessible parking in this video.
The value of disabled customers
Disabled customers are valuable customers. Every year £249 billion is spent by the UK’s 20 million disabled people and carers. Recovering lost business and attracting new customers is vital to the survival of most businesses in the era of COVID-19.
What can we do?
If you can, ask for the store manager and explain why blocking Blue Badge bays is unacceptable and how they can find an alternative, such as replacing the parking bays elsewhere or better policing on Blue Badge bay abuse.
If you cannot speak to someone at the time, find an email address or social media profile for the store or company and explain your concerns there – share photographs if you can.
Good practice examples
AccessAble have created an infographic to support businesses in a practical way, with tips to ensure that COVID-19 safety measures continue to provide support for disabled people. Click here to download the full infographic.
AccessAble are also working with all of their partners to add updated information about COVID-19 measures to their Detailed Access Guides. Here’s an example from Next. Click here to view the Access Guide.
Read more articles about the Blue Badge scheme and accessible parking.
AccessAble’s Detailed Access Guides have detailed sections on getting to and parking each of the 70,000 venues on our website and App. Search on www.AccessAble.co.uk and download the free App from the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.