Saturday, 10 May 2014

Access All Areas: off my trolley!

"Off one's trolley": [colloquial] crazy; mad; insane.

The following scenario makes me mad with anger and frustration. Can you see why?

Shopping centre car park with trolleys stacked up in the car parking area.

Here are some clues:

Trolleys are blocking the 'yellow' space between two disability parking bays
and the access ramp at the kerb.

This is a great example of how people's laziness and thoughtlessness have rendered the disability parking spaces useless. 

There are two disability spaces here with a yellow-striped no-parking section between them. The extra space in the middle is supposed to provide room enough to fully open the passenger doors for loading/unloading with mobility equipment.

This is a newly renovated shopping centre and the designers have done the right thing by placing a big yellow bollard in the extra gap to prevent cheeky drivers from trying to squeeze in (as illustrated in a previous blog entry "Access All Areas: if you can get a park!").

A bollard is supposed to protect the yellow access bay from being blocked by cars, yet a line of trolleys is leaning on it, rendering the access bay useless.

Sadly, shoppers who are too lazy to return their trolleys to the trolley bay (barely ten steps/two shopfronts away), have decided that the bollard is a great resting place for their discarded trolley.

It only takes one - one lazy person, one thoughtless act, one trolley to be left there - for other shoppers to copy.  Like sheep, if one person does it, the others follow.  

Wayward trolleys leave no room for a shopper to turn,
let alone a wheelchair or gopher.

It's like a beacon that says "If it's okay for one trolley to be here, it's okay for more trolleys to be here too!  When there's more than one, it might look like they belong here anyway. Trolleys are meant to nest together and bunch up; it's their destiny; who are we to change the natural order of trolleys? Just look innocent and pretend that the trolleys are meant to collect here."

A line of trolleys spans the length of the yellow access bay.

NO! NO! NO!  

The trolleys get in the way so that there is no room for people with disabilities to get in or out of their cars.

That is why my white car is straddling two parking spaces - to allow room on the passenger (left) side for alighting with a wheelchair - but that has given rise to a new problem.

The rear of the parking bay has a spoon drain.
The drain sump is directly behind the vehicle where one unloads equipment.
It is covered by a grate which has holes large enough to catch
small castor wheels or shoppers' heels.

The white car now has an uneven surface behind it which could cause someone to lose their balance while loading or unloading from the tailgate.  

If it were a wheelchair or walker being unloaded, the gaps in the grate are just large enough to trap small wheels or shoppers' heels (so it is dangerous for able-bodied shoppers as well if the car is parked out of correct alignment with the lines!)

The trolleys are not only blocking side access to the vehicles, they are blocking the access ramp - the only way to safely get from the vehicle onto the kerb.

This photo shows how the trolleys are blocking the access ramp including the textured directional paving tile.

It is downright dangerous.  People with vision impairments might try to use the ramp (signalled by a textured paving tile) only to hurt themselves as they run into or trip over obstacles that shouldn't be there.

Lines of trolleys are regularly banked up here, often all the way to the access ramp and kerb.  This photograph shows how the trolleys take up most of the space needed for manoeuvring mobility equipment.  Once down the ramp, turning room is required to somehow avoid the line of trolleys.

It is a good day when I am well enough to get to the shops on my own; when I manage to get a suitable parking space, get into the shops and do some independent shopping. It makes me angry when, on return, I cannot get to my car.

I could try to go back the way I came and use a different access ramp to get from the footpath to the roadway but that entails having to wheel behind rows of parked cars (very dangerous for wheelchair users who are short and cannot be seen by reversing drivers) until I reach my own car; but then, how am I going to even open my car door and get in with all of those trolleys alongside anyway?  (The extra distance wastes precious energy too.)

I don't just blame selfish shoppers.  The supermarket and shopping centre management need to take responsibility too.

The supermarket needs to be very conscientious about mustering their wayward trolleys. 

The shopping centre can help by making sure the official trolley bays are easy to use and placed appropriately.  

I suspect there is a prevailing attitude that "the trolley bays have to go somewhere (arbitrary)" and the chosen place is designed to be convenient to the supermarket employees without taking into account the behaviours of the general shopping public.

Shopping centres can install signs to educate people to not leave their trolleys in the disability parking space.  I have a right mind to make up my own laminated sign and attach it to the bollard to indicate NO TROLLEY PARKING HERE!!

Some shopping centres provide incentives to return trolleys to their correct spot, like having a coin deposit slot to release the trolley for use, and on return one can retrieve the coin.

So next time you are done with your shopping trolley, please think carefully about where you leave it.  

Please make the effort to walk the extra distance to return the trolley to its rightful place, and while you are doing it, consider how blessed you are to have the energy, the strength and ability to walk, while feeling good about the exercise as you improve your physical fitness as well (not to mention the peace of mind knowing that you have reunited your trolley with its kin!).

For more 'Access All Areas', click access in the 'Labels' list in the right hand column.

1 comment:

  1. For further discussion of access, there is a new Facebook group "for people with disabilities/disabled people to highlight examples of inaccessibility in the built environment all across Australia":

    Another resource for people in and around Broken Hill is a Facebook page called "Accessible buildings/businesses in Broken Hill":