In Lisbon, Portugal, wheelchair users found a unique and poignant way to protest improper use for disabled parking spaces. Weekenders out for a day in the park were surprised with no available parking; instead, every space was filled with a single wheelchair.
Each chair was accompanied with a message, like “I’m just getting coffee” and ‘It’ll only take a minute,” all the usual suspects used as justification for improperly parking in a parking space designated for handicapable use. Some chairs even came with their owners, ready and willing to offer up one of these excuses!
Similar initiatives have been carried out in Vila Real, also in Portugal, as well as Boa Vista, Brazil, on their National Day of Struggle for the Disabled.
Think this protest is radical? Beginning in 2005 South Africa instituted a sticker scheme to not only punish but also chastise people illegally parking in wheelchair user parking bays. It’s important to note that South Africa has parking that is specific to wheelchair users and separate from other disabled parking. These parking bays require their own parking permit and are not permitted for use by the elderly or for other disabilities, as these spaces are designed larger to accommodate wheelchair lifts and transfers. People who ignore these laws not only get slapped with a fine, but also with a sticker stating things like “I park in paraplegic parking bays because I am selfish” and “You took my parking bay, would you like my disability too.” Repeat offenders are also left with the lovely parting gift of having their tires booted.
May is Mobility Awareness month…I wonder…how many local wheelchair users in our community would like to pull off an “occupy the parking lot” protest like Lisbon did? HQO Project may just have to work on this.