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Disabled rider claims parking discrimination

Disabled rider Alan Francis claims parking discrimination

A disabled Canberra rider could face a $228 fine for copying his disabled parking permit and making his own holder to use on his Harley because no suitably secure system is available for motorcycles.

Alan Francis, 68, says the ACT Transportation Department only supplies a flimsy plastic sleeve with the permit which would not be secure on a motorcycle.

“That’s discrimination of disabled riders,” he says.

The situation came to light recently when Alan received a $600 ticket for parking his 2015 Harley-Davidson Low Rider in a Canberra Hospital disabled park while he visited a terminally ill friend.

He says an eyewitness told him the inspector said handicapped stickers are for those who can’t walk any distance and if the owner could ride a Harley he was a “fraud”.

Painful suffering

The former firefighter and New Zealand sidecar champion says he suffers from a compressed spine and dead nerves in his legs which makes walking any distance painful and difficult.

“My feet are basically useless, but the Low Rider has forward controls and I can lift my leg to change gears,” he says.

“If I don’t have sturdy boots on, I am susceptible to falling over.

“And when I go for a ride with my mates they usually stand by the gutter and offer a shoulder so  I can get on and off.

“But the moment I lift my feet of the ground I’m as good as the next guy on a motorcycle.”

Parking permits are supplied to people for a range of disabilities including those whose “physical condition is detrimentally affected by walking 100m”.

Friend and Motorcycle Riders Association of the ACT president Lorne Thurgar confirms that Alan has a genuine ACT Government issued handicap pass and walks with a walking stick.

“The ticket should be cancelled and Alan deserves an apology,” Lone says.

Disabled rider Alan Francis claims parking discriminationParking permits

The ACT disabled parking permit instructions say: “The Australian disability parking permit is correctly displayed if it is on the dashboard, or affixed to the windscreen, inside the vehicle or as close as practical to the front left side in a way that all permit details are clearly visible from outside the vehicle.”

The instructions make no allowances for motorcycles or for easily relocating a permit from the safety of a car’s interior to the vulnerability of a motorcycle.

So Alan photocopied the disabled permit, laminated it inside the supplied plastic holder and cable-tied it to his left saddlebag.

In 2016, a Canberra paraplegic driver was fined $228 for failing to display her ACT permit correctly.

“There is no holder to be able to do this with a motorcycle and they cannot provide one as I asked when I was given the permit,” Alan says.

“I have a car as well and carry my wheelchair in the car so I need my sticker in the car.

“For me to be legal on both vehicles and has been stated by them is that I have to remove the sticker from the car and firmly attach it to the bike in the yet-to-be-designed holder that meets their requirements.”

Alan says if the department can’t supply a secure holder for the permit, they should supply a second motorcycle-only permit for disabled riders.

“I  am now in the knowledge that my solution is illegal and I must be severely punished for it,” he says.

“Further to my situation is that I have received comment, but not from the department, that maybe I can’t be a pension-reliant person if I can afford a Harley.

“I don’t normally publicise this but the bike was a gift from my partner who has now passed away.”

Parking incidentDisabled rider Alan Francis claims parking discrimination

As for the parking ticket, Alan says that when he parked in the disabled spot closest to the hospital elevators, he waved over a young female traffic controller to explain his situation.

“I told her ‘just out of courtesy I’m showing you that I am handicapped and legitimate’,” he says.

“About 50 minutes after parking there, the traffic inspector employed by the hospital started ticketing my motorcycle.

“The young girl came running over to him close to tears to explain that I’m an ok bloke and genuinely disabled, but she couldn’t stop him putting a ticket on it.

“Quite frankly what the parking inspector said to her about me being a fraud was soul destroying.”

Onerous appeal process

Alan says it was also a huge inconvenience to have to walk a long distance to Access Canberra (sic) to lodge his appeal against the ticket.

“The girl at the office looked up the sticker and told me it was legal and legit, but I would have to wait to find out if the ticket was rescinded.

“I’m speaking on behalf of disabled people; it’s straight out discrimination against disability.

“He’s shagged me round good and proper.”

Meanwhile, Alan says that he has now laminated the original permit in its plastic holder and cable-tied to the left pannier as it was when he was fined.Disabled rider Alan Francis claims parking discrimination

“I have chosen not to use a handicapped park for the car as at least I have the wheelchair to get me the further distances,” he says.

“My permit is again cable tied to the saddlebag which is still open to coping a fine I guess if a particular parking attendant randomly decides I am a fraud.

“Had I been informed on the infringement notice that it was the permit and not the parking position that was the problem, this situation would have never transpired.

“I freely admit in hindsight that my solution was not appropriate and if I am to be fined it should be for this and not the parking position.”

ACT reply

We received this response from the ACT government’s media team:

Access Canberra does not publicly comment on individual parking issues through the media, in respect for the privacy of the individual.

However we can advise that we are looking to have this matter be resolved as soon as possible.

We can also advise that contact has been made with the individual and the reasons why the infringement was issued explained.

The individual should be hearing the outcome of the review in the near future.

Depending on the complexity of a review it may take a bit longer, however the majority are processed within six weeks.

We’d also like to provide a reminder to the community that Australian Disability Parking Permits (also known as Mobility Parking Permits) are valid for use by the person to whom they are issued and to no other.

Like with any form of identification such as a driver’s licence, an Australian Disability Parking Permit holder must display the actual permit issued by the Road Transport Authority on the motor vehicle used at the time for their transportation or for their parking requirements.

When it comes to motorbikes, it is important that the permits are securely displayed.

  1. I’ve got CFS/ME. walking hurts. My bike is so damn useful for mobility as I can park it almost anywhere. 99% of the time I don’t need to display my blue badge (uk disablity permit). When I do, i found a lexan holder that i can lock it to the bike with using a mini-d lock or bicycle cable lock. I can’t find what I bought but this ( is kinda similar.

    But the difference between being a scruffy guy in his 30s that doesn’t move so well and a hairy biker that appears to have one to many crash stores to tell is one where people look at me like something they just stepped in or call me ‘sir’.

  2. I have a 2nd mobility parking permit issued specifically for my bike – no photo of me, but does state the rego number for the bike (NSW). Yes, of course it cost more, but I don’t have to move my ‘photo’ permit from car to bike. I’m fortunate to have a bike with a large screen, so I attach the bike permit there. It still doesn’t change the looks I get from the public when I park the bike (Can Am Spyder) in disability parking spots

  3. Full sympathy for Mr Francis, Before my knee replacement the pain was excruciating
    to walk but I was still able to ride.You dont realise how debilitating it is until it happens to you
    The parking inspector needs their arse kicked

  4. As the bureaucrats in most of Australia won’t allow footpath parking here’s a crazy thought, where there is more than one disabled parking space how about half of these spaces get re-zoned as dual purpose motorcycle/disabled parking. Whilst designated disabled parking is a necessary requirement the amount of times a drive into a car park with no allocated bike parking and see 6 empty disabled parking spaces each of which could easily accommodate 4 bikes due to the larger dimensions. ??

    1. And then what happens when a disabled person needs to use the spot? They are there for a reason, for disabled people to use and if they are free, they are free for disabled people to use, not to wait until an able bodied person to turn up and free it up.

      From another disabled motorcycle rider. Considering what I had to go through to become disabled and then qualify for the permit, I don’t see why any able bodied person should feel the need to use a disabled spot.

  5. Hey guys – I AM WITH YOU 110% – I am also a LEGALLY Disabled Pensioner and have been since 2001 and had a 20 year layoff from riding from 1997 till 2017 and Never thought I would ever ride again, and Although I cannot walk very far at all even with my stick, I can still get about a little and Sitting Down IS the ONLY way to Alleviate my pain to tolerable levels, but I am very fortunate to be able to ride again.

    I have also experienced the feeling of being a bloody leper and being treated as such by the People WHO don’t know me and my circumstances – the public are so quick to judge and it usually gets met with a single finger salute as I hobble off with my stick for support, I take delight in getting off my bike and getting my stick out of the saddlebag, it is my sturdy companion, NOT like the public who think that all bikers are trash anyway – it is worse IF you are riding a motorcycle – You are expected to be wheelchair bound and totally reliant on a full time carer – but IF you are struggling to Support yourself they can be so damn CRUEL it Does tend to make a Disabled Rider feel like crap for just Being alive …

    I had one guy tell me to ‘Wake up to myself, and get a car” … I just yelled to the moron – I have one and I use it to transport my butchered victims in – DO YOU want a ride in it? He shut his trap and walked off …

    That is the attitude that WE Disabled Riders have to deal with TIME AND TIME AGAIN !!!

    I for one would like the DISCRIMINATION to STOP …

    I am up for a ride to the ACT for a Protest RIDE IF NEED BE, to AID in the EDUCATION of the PUBLIC, to just Stop and ASK if we Need Help rather than Filthy Looks and Mutterings of He’s Not Disabled if he can ride a bloody motorcycle …. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH of the CRAP from them and I Treat the Mongrels with the Contempt they deserve – Those FEW who do take the time to ask and offer Help I commend Greatly and they usually have a family member or know of other riders who are disabled and just want to TRY and ENJOY a RIDE WHILE they STILL CAN – For GODS SAKE PEOPLE WE ARE NOT LEPERS !!!

    Show some damn compassion for your Fellow Human beings and You may Be rewarded with a Grin instead of a Fierce Look and deserved unkind words.

    I’m Out –

  6. I have done similar to Alan in color copying my permit, laminating and permanently affixing it to the bike. Like he I have a spinal injury that prevents me from walking long distances without pain, and nerve damage that hinders my walking. To date I have had one ticket withdrawn, and when I came across an inspector ticketing my bike they cancelled the ticket immediately when they realised the situation, we also had a jovial conversation afterwards. Some of them are actually nice people and understanding. But some can be judgmental like the DOT counter person who questioned why I should have a permit because I have a motorbike, she should visit my neighbor who rides a Can-Am with his wheelchair on the back and tell him what is not possible. The motorbike for me is the most natural and neutral seating position I can adopt with my injuries, so much so that I have office chairs that mimic the bike seating arrangement (saddle chairs).

    If government departments are willing to replace it free when it gets stolen form a non secured motorbike position, happy to place the original on display, but they will not so this is the only option I have presently. I will look into the Lexan holders though mentioned above.

  7. In Pennsylvania, USA we have Handicapped license plates available for motorcycles. I have one on my BMW GSA. I’m tall at 6’5″. I have the problem of standing for longer periods and walking (like in stores-where I will use a store’s electric cart). If I am on my feet too long, my right leg can suddenly buckle…
    I’ve had two back surgeries and had considered a third, but yet… For my back I’ve been told to step up into a truck, not down into a car-same with the bike I’m sitting up tall-which helps.

  8. Allways use your original parking permit, copies are verboten.
    My Mum’s gets transferred vehicle to vehicle, it’s simple easy.

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