29 December 2007
I've been resisting the urge to get on my soap box about this issue, but I've now seen one final thing that has pushed me to writing this post.
It seams to me that there are generally two types of people that abuse parking spaces. The first don't give a dam about anyone and will park in a disabled or parent and toddler parking space because they want to. The second appear to select parent and toddler spaces over disabled presumably because they don't want to be seen as someone that causes inconvenience to someone that is disadvantaged vs. someone that needs the facility because of something they chose. Whichever kind they are selfish and inconsiderate and should try and find some kind of conscience, though many never will.
Why do we need parent and child spaces?
I'm sure there are many that would think "well they never had them in my day", so why should todays parents have special parking spaces. Those parents may have not used car seats for their children, and may have not taken their children shopping on their own, but the realities of today do mean that these spaces are needed.
There are several reasons why parent and child spaces are important:
- They provide additional width to get children out of a car. When getting a child out of a car seat then additional space is needed to fully open the car door. Space that is not available in a standard sized space without risk of damaging the neighbouring car.
If parent and child spaces are not available then I will then try and find the end of a row so that I can park without hitting the car door against another car
- They are often located close to trolleys, particularly important for infants in a car seat carrier. These car seat carriers are very heavy, but have the advantage that the baby can be left asleep whilst shopping, an advantage for the parent and sometimes for other shoppers. Unfortunately there are also some supermarkets that don't understand this concept such as Tesco Arena Park in Coventry which places the car seat trolleys as far as possible away from the parent and child parking spaces.
- They are safer from a traffic point of view. Some supermarkets include dedicated walkways and zebra crossings for the parent and child spaces, some are positioned in their own area, and some are close to the store. All these help to reduce the risk of a child being hit by a car.
Which compared to other drivers whose reasons could include
- It's close to the cash machines
- Having a large vehicle (eg. 4x4 / van) - how about the more distant areas of the car park where you may find more empty spaces?
- Don't want to get car scratched by neighbouring cars (as an alternative to parking right in the middle of two parking spaces making it more inconvenient for everyone) - either go to the more distant areas of the car park, or perhaps leave the car tucked up in it's garage where it is nice and safe from the big bad world!
- Or any of the other selfish reasons that they may have
Who are the spaces for?
But who are these spaces for? I don't really like the wording parent and child, but Morissons use the wording "Parent and Toddler" and I think the symbol gives a good implication as to the intended users of these spaces. They are designed for parents (or guardians) with young children.
So those who seam to think that because they have their 20 year old child with them that they suddenly qualify - I suggest getting a grip on reality. Likewise those who think that their teenage children give them a right to use these spaces.
These spaces are not designed as a reward for being able to have children - they are to make life a little easier for those that have a genuine need.
For me these are therefore designed for infant, toddler and pre-school children. If your child is capable of getting him / her self out of the car seat and then walking unassisted then they do not need to be using a parent and toddler parking space. Also if your child is not getting out of the car then you don't need to use a parent or child space, although there could be some justification if the intention is to take them into the store if they wake / get restless etc.
I also think that those in the latter stages of pregnancy can benefit from these spaces, although for slightly different reasons to those with young children.
What excuses do abuses of these spaces have?
I have challenged a number of people that have abused these spaces. I think that there reactions say a lot for how much they car about others, generally silence or verbal abuse.
I normally ask "Are you aware that that is a parent and toddler space?" or something similar. This gives an opportunity for anyone that may have a genuine reason to defend themselves. On one occasion someone did say that they were picking up their child (presumably walked down with another parent or guardian), and in that example fair enough, and I hope they appreciate that I was asking for the benefit of other parents as well (I'd already found myself a space on that occasion).
The most common reaction is that of deafness. Sometimes silence says a thousand words and these people obviously have little excuse. Perhaps they think themselves above everyone else?
Finally there are those whose reaction is "don't care" or "get stuffed" or much worse. In this case I just give them the contempt they deserve and ignore them. These appear to be people generally lacking a few billion brain cells compared with the rest of the population (often struggle with words with more than 4 letters etc), or seam to have no consideration for anyone beyond themselves.
Other than that one example where someone appeared to have a genuine reason, I've not had anyone try to justify why they parked there. No-one try to say why they don't feel that these parking spaces are justified, or try to make up some excuse about having some important reason they need to use the space. It's hard to justify a selfish act!
The ultimate in inconsiderate parking
Finally the reason that I'm writing this post is after something I saw on Thursday at Donnington Park services. This was late afternoon and with the early nights it was dark, although not too late. I was just popping into the services to grab a takeaway coffee and although I had my young daughter with me I wasn't taking her in so I'd parked in the regular parking space just opposite the parent and child spaces.
As I returned to the car I noticed a car parked in a parent and child space, with the driver stood next to the car. I noticed that he wasn't moving very much and then realised the reason was that he was urinating in the car park in a space reserved for those parking with young children.
So this person had driven into the services, parked in a parent and child space and was within a few metres of the services complete with toilet facilities, but then thought it appropriate to urinate in a space where there was risk that a child could trip or come into contact with his waste.
I was just gobsmacked. I was amazed by how thoughtless and inconsiderate this person was. I made some comment about the action being disgusting, which was returned with something like "get lost", but I really couldn't quite believe what I had just seen. It really has raised the bar of how inconsiderate people can be!