One in five disabled parking bays is abused - Baywatch campaign results 2019

In June Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK) asked the public to support their Baywatch campaign by surveying their local supermarket car park for disabled parking abuse. The results have now been calculated and this year saw the biggest number of responses ever (723) which demonstrates the high level of disabled parking abuse at supermarkets.

Overall the level of disabled parking abuse across all supermarkets was 16%, down from 18.5% when the campaign last ran in 2017 and therefore, showing some improvement. Across all supermarkets surveyed the average number of disabled bays provided (to the nearest whole bay) is 15 with three of these being abused, meaning that roughly 1 in 5 disabled parking bays at supermarkets are abused by somebody parking there without displaying a Blue Badge.

60% of the supermarkets surveyed had visible signage or other evidence that enforcement takes place. When isolated, these supermarkets’ levels of abuse remained at 16%. However, for the 40% that had no visible indication of enforcement taking place, the percentage of abuse increased dramatically to 36%. This shows that enforcement does decrease the levels of disabled parking abuse.

All of the supermarkets surveyed have since been contacted with the Baywatch results and have been encouraged to start a dialogue with DMUK so they can help them improve their parking facilities for disabled motorists and ensure that they use enforcement across all of their stores.

Supermarkets can do three things to help their disabled customers, the first is to properly enforce their disabled bays so that only genuine Blue badge holders park there. The Baywatch campaign results show that if supermarkets eradicate this problem they could make available up to 20% more bays for their genuine disabled customers without having to do any structural changes to their car parks.  Secondly, to monitor their disabled parking provision closely to understand whether or not they actually provide enough disabled bays to meet the demand of their customer base.  And thirdly, to adopt the Disabled Parking Accreditation (DPA) in their car parks. This would provide consumer confidence that their car park is accessible and properly enforced, and show a real commitment to the independence of their local disabled community.

Baywatch will return in 2021 and it is hoped there will be a further reduction in the levels of disabled parking abuse in supermarkets. In the meantime, DMUK has launched the Baywatch Appeal to help the charity raise vital funds to keep advocating the need for proper management of disabled parking bays. The charity encourages all supporters of the Baywatch campaign to donate if they are able. The campaign is supported by Baroness Grey-Thompson and sponsored by the BPA to improve parking for disabled motorists.

Kelvin Reynolds, BPA Director of Corporate and Public Affairs says, “We are encouraged to see some improvement in this year’s survey but almost 1 in 5 disabled bays at supermarkets continues to be abused. Parking spaces reserved for Blue Badge holders must be managed properly to ensure they are not obstructed and used only by people displaying a valid disabled Blue Badge and we encourage all those who manage parking to properly enforce their disabled bays so that only genuine Blue badge holders can park there.”

On the 30th of august the criteria for the Blue Badge will change in England and more people with hidden disabilities will be eligible for a Blue Badge. Disabled Motoring UK predicts a dramatic increase in Blue Badge holders and more demand for disabled parking spaces.  Whilst predominantly an on-street parking concession, the Blue Badge scheme is largely adopted by the private parking industry meaning the effects of this change will be felt across the entire parking sector, including parking at supermarkets.