Cars are the only practical method of transport for some disabled people, whether they drive themselves or ride with someone else, therefore it is vital to provide accessible parking with unhindered access to building entrances. The level of provision will depend on many factors e.g. location and use of the bulding.
Parking bays for disabled people should be conveniently located and clearly signed. They should have additional transfer space to allow people with reduced mobility to get into and out of their cars with the minimum of difficulty. Where on-site parking is not available, good practice would suggest maintaining a record of nearby accessible bays. In addition, an approach could be made to the local authority for the provision of on-street parking.
Any parking control equipment should be positioned so that it can be operated conveniently by disabled people, some of whom will be in wheelchairs.
Number of designated parking spaces
Where parking is provided, at least one bay designated for disabled people should be provided as close as possible to the principal entrance of the building.
Minimum recommended number of bays in off-street car parks (based on BS 8300)
Car park used for:
Where the number of disabled employees is known:
Once space for each known disabled employee plus one space or 2% of total capacity (whichever is greater) for visiting disabled motorists
Where the number of disabled employees is not known:
At least one space or 5% of the total parking capacity, whichever is the greater.
Shopping, recreation and leisure facilities
Minimum one space for each employee who is a disabled motorist plus 6% of the total capacity for visiting disabled motorists.
Sport England recommends 8% for some sports facilities and for 50m swimming pools.
The numbers of designated spaces may need to be greater at hotels and sports stadia that specialize in accommodating groups of disabled people.
Disabled parking bay abuse
In the UK, non-disabled drivers routinely abuse car-parking spaces specifically allocated to disabled motorists. This generates frustration, anger, resentment and leads to real problems for disabled drivers, carers and parking providers alike.
Disability Discrimination Act
From October 2004, Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 came into effect within the UK. This legislation places a legal requirement on service providers to ensure that disabled people do not find it unreasonably difficult or impossible to enjoy the service in the same way as non-disabled people.
Whilst the earlier parts of the Act focussed primarily on disabled access into buildings, Part III now looks closer at the issue of car parking. A key element of Part III is that service providers that operate a car park now have to 'monitor' their disabled bays to prevent abuse by non-disabled drivers. Failure to provide monitoring could result in a heavy financial penalty, as disabled drivers exercise their rights to compensation under the terms of the Act.
Points to be considered include:
- A setting down point with dropped kerb as close to the entrance as possible
- Where on-site parking is not available, good practice would suggest maintaining a record of nearby accessible bays
- Where parking is provided, bay/s at least 3.6m wide, level, marked out/effectively signposted and close to the entrance or in the best possible location to be provided
- Lighting provided around bays
- Bays should allow for rear access to the vehicle (it is acceptable if this area forms part of the thoroughfare of the car park)
- Where ticket machines are intended for use by disabled people, they should be located adjacent to designated parking bays and be accessible and convenient to use by someone in a wheelchair and someone of short stature
- Every effort must be made to keep any parking spaces for the specific use of disabled guests free for their use and not occupied by non-disabled visitors or staff vehicles
- The distance from the parking bay/s to the entrance no more than 50m if open-air or 100m if covered
- Entrance and designated parking bay clearly signposted from the car park/entry to car park
- Details of a number to call for assistance to be visible from the parking bay
Roadways and pathways
- All routes to/from the car park/parking bay to/from the entrance to have a firm surface i.e concrete, tarmac etc and be free from obstacles
- Lighting provided throughout route to entrance
- Where grass forms the pathways then it must be as level as possible
- There must be no level change without warning between surface types
- Raised texture on paving when reaching an area that may be dangerous to a visitor with a visual impairment e.g. road junctions, service areas, water features etc
- There must be no incline or ramp steeper than 1:15 (1:12 for existing ramps or inclines) along roads or pathways
- Level resting places could be provided at no more than 10m intervals on areas of paths or roadways which exceed 15m in length
- Where speed bumps or other speed limiting devises are installed these must be clearly defined and in contrasting colour to the roadway
- Paths not less than 900mm wide
The above information was collected from the following sources:
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- BS EN 12464-2:2007 Lighting of work places. Outdoor work places
- BS 5489-1:2003 Code of practice for the design of road lighting. Lighting of roads and public amenity areas
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- The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
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- RNIB (2003) The Talking Images Guide - Museums, galleries and heritage sites: improving access for blind and partially sighted people.