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A post about a post

Written by Simon Leadbetter

What is wrong with this picture? Can you see it?

This article has been assigned the following categories: Accessibility,

An empty parking bay (delineated by white lines) between two parked cars. The problem is there is a telegraph pole situated in the parking bay making it an accident waiting to happen.

Nope. It is not the post. It is the fact there was a complete lack of thought by the person who was responsible for this car park. Whether that was the contractor or the owner, it really does not matter. What I find bothersome is not that it was allowed to happen, but it wasn’t rectified.

To give this some context, this was taken in a hospital car park. A place where most people go with some level of anxiety, so their minds may be slightly distracted by other things.

Picture the scenario. A driver arrives at the car park and spots this free bay from a distance. They drive along the lane and spot the car sized gap between two parked cars. The bay is designated by clear ground markings and a post is the last thing expected to be in the bay. Moreover, a post whose colouration allows it to blend into the background.

As an accident waiting to happen, this bay is clearly a problem. It certainly isn’t considering the needs of all the different drivers who will happen upon this space in this car park. Undoubtedly, a few simple changes could aid the driver in this scenario:

  • Adding bright reflective paint on the pole for drivers who may approach this space when it is dark
  • Removing the white line that indicates to the driver that this bay is like all the others
  • Better still, add diagonal lines on the ground to provide visual feedback to the driver that this bay is different and care should be taken
  • Better still add the word caution in large letters to the ground markings
  • Better still add a caution sign to the post

It is likely the contractor who was commissioned to surface this car park and add the markings was working to a limited budget and ran out of time. Would it have cost more money to have NOT added the connecting white line across the bay? Without the line it would have, at a very minimum, provided more visual feedback to the driver that this isn’t a parking bay.

The contractor or the land owner probably decided that, ‘people are not stupid and will see the post’. Well, let me share something with you. Everyone is different. You don’t have to be stupid for this to be a problem. Even if you are academically challenge, the onus should not be placed on the driver when there are thing that can be done by the developer.

Accessibility issues are usually caused by ignorance or indifference to the needs of others.

We (by that I mean anyone without a disability) may not be able to get everything right 100% of the time and that is fine, however, simply ignoring an issue is the greater issue. Even a simple fix is better than no fix at all. Be an empathetic designer. Be an inquisitive developer. However, don’t be the type of person that thinks a post in a parking bay is okay and then just leave it like that.