WHEELCHAIRS were placed in a number of car parking spaces in the city last week to highlight the frustrations people with disabilities face on a daily basis.
The Irish Wheelchair Association, Waterford City, in partnership with the Waterford Garda Traffic Core and Waterford City Council Traffic Wardens, worked with volunteers to host the “Back In 5” parking campaign on the Quay on Wednesday, May 8, from 11am to12.30pm.
The campaign was based on the Lisbon Experiment in Portugal in 2014, which was designed to highlight the frustrations people with disabilities face every day when able-bodied people park their cars in wheelchair accessible spaces without a valid parking permit or reason to do so. In Ireland a similar campaign was rolled out in a lot of cities and towns around the country.
Eight regular car spaces were taken up with an empty wheelchair parked in it. A note was pinned to the back of the wheelchair with messages such as “Be back in 5 minutes”, “just gone to the bank” or “just running in for a coffee”. These represent throw away statements that people with disabilities encounter every day when people use accessible spaces that do not need to do so.
“The rationale behind the campaign in Waterford City was to draw attention to the abuse of accessible parking bays in the town centre. Accessible car spaces are located nearest to building entrances or lifts to make it convenient for people with limited mobility or those using wheelchairs to access services. It is important that these spaces are not abused in any way.
“We are acutely aware of the need for people to have parking and its impact on local business and service providers on the Quay in Waterford City. Accordingly, we are hugely grateful for the support of the local business on the Quay for their support for the event. We also greatly appreciate the support of An Garda Síochana in Waterford City, along with the Waterford County Council Parking Department for their support,” Caroline Lacey, Service Manager said.