Canberra rider Alan Francis has succeeded in having his $600 disabled parking fine waived, but will now campaign for disabled riders to get a more compact motorcycle-specific permit.
Alan, 68, has now permanently attached his permit to his 2015 Harley-Davidson Low Rider’s left pannier. But that leaves him without a permit for his car.
He says he will push for riders who also drive to be issued two permits – one for their car and the smaller specific permit for a motorcycle.
A Victorian motorcycle advocate says this is becoming an issue for disabled riders around Australia who are being “heavily fined and penalised”.
Alan was issued with a $600 ticket for parking his bike in a disabled spot despite displaying a disabled parking permit.
It is believed the inspector told a witness that handicapped stickers are for those who can’t walk any distance and if the owner could ride a Harley he was a “fraud”.
Alan has a compressed spine and has difficulty walking, but not riding.
He photocopied his disabled parking permit because it was too difficult to swap it between his car and his bike while guaranteeing the flimsy permit would not be stolen.
He did not know it was illegal to reproduce the permit and faced a further $228 fine.
However, the $600 fine has been waived and he does not appear to face any further penalties.
“I have received a letter from Access Canberra informing me of my breach with the sticker but as I was a genuine holder the matter has been waived,” he says.
“They have made it clear I am to destroy and never use a duplicate as this is an offence.
“However I do intend to push forward with the need for change to accommodate the holder for a motorcyclist.
“I wish to personally thank Motorbike Writer for your efforts on my behalf as I am sure that without it they would have proceeded.”
Dean Marks, an independent rider representative on Victoria’s Motorcycle Experts Advisory Panel, says he has been looking at disabled rider parking issues for some years.
“There are many drivers in Australia that hold a legal disability as determined by a registered medical practitioner and are issued a disabled parking permit,” he says.
“Of great concern is that council bylaws officers are issuing infringement notices on motorcycles even when displaying an affixed permit based on their belief that a rider cannot have a qualifying disability.
“If they have a concern then they should report the permit and number to the issuing body.
“Of greater concern is that as it currently stands, provisions made specifically to address riders’ concerns and needs are almost non-existent.”
Dean says getting in and out of a car for a person with an ambulatory disability can be quite difficult and painful.
“With the current ratios that are required with respect to disabled parking spots per normal parking spots, more often than not, many disabled drivers are required to use a normal spot which is a great distance from their desired location,” he says.
Many disabled spots also do not allow drivers to fully open their car door to get out safely, he says.
“Because of this, many that can ride do when they can. Not only because it is a great renewed sense of freedom, but also because it is more comfortable and easier than trying to get in and out of their car.
“They can also get much closer to their destination which allows them to walk shorter distances.”
He says there need to be clear guidelines on disabled parking for motorcyclists.
“This is becoming an issue as disabled riders around Australia are starting to be heavily fined and penalised for using the parking spots allocated for their specific use,” he says.
“The attitude of many is that if someone can ride then they are not disabled.
“I wish to explore the issues and provisions and ensure that these riders are not excluded and or discriminated against in any way due to their disability and the fact their mode of transport is a motorised two-wheel vehicle.”