Local resident and wheelchair athlete Maioro Barton has started an online movement, encouraging people to commit to not using mobility parks without a permit and to speak out when they see others misusing the parks. With a hashtag of #IWill, Maioro said he has had a good response to the campaign on the Cambridge Grapevine Facebook page. The most common reason people give for their illegal parking, Maioro said, is that they are “just going to be five minutes”. Hot-spots for this behaviour are the parks outside Rouge on Empire St and on Duke St outside the post office, caused by people just “popping in” for food or to use the post office, he said.
That five minutes can be just enough time for a mobility permit holder to miss out and have to drive on, Maioro pointed out. And it’s not as easy as just finding a regular park, particularly for wheelchair-users who need the extra space of a mobility park to manoeuvre their chairs in and out of their vehicles.
Figures from CCS Disability Action showed there are 935 mobility permits issued in Cambridge – 888 long-term and 47 short term – with council advising there are 25 mobility parks available throughout Cambridge and Leamington. That’s one park to just over 37 permit-holders, representing a low ratio of parks to potential users.
Keen to keep things positive, Maioro said that if the public is considering approaching someone they suspect is illegally parking in a mobility park, they should look for the parking permit on the vehicle’s dashboard, not at the person driving. “It’s not always visually obvious if someone is entitled to use it…look for the permit, not the disability,” he advised.
“You can approach the person by saying that they seem to have forgotten to display their mobility permit. That’s a calm way to ask them what they’re doing and hopefully they will feel guilty for parking there and move it, or not do it again,” he said. Alternatively, they might genuinely have forgotten to display their permit, something Maioro said he’s been guilty of in the past.
“It’s good that we don’t have fulltime parking wardens here, and that parking is free…I’d just like to challenge the community to just keep an eye out.”
Which doesn’t seem like too much to ask, really.