Sensors on mobility carparks to curb misuse

Teresa McCallum with a car parking sensor.

Misuse of mobility parking spaces in Christchurch will be addressed with some new technology.

The city council and CCS Disability Action have joined forces for a pilot project aimed at making it easier to find mobility parking spaces and to stop them being abused.

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Sensors have been put on selected mobility spaces that detect Bluetooth tiles affixed to the back of mobility permits.

Teresa McCallum with a new bluetooth car parking sensor.

If the sensors do not pick up a Bluetooth signal they will send a real-time alert to enforcement teams that a non-mobility card holder or someone using a mobility card that is no longer valid might be parked in a mobility parking space.

The project involves the development of an app that identifies where mobility parks in Christchurch are located.

It also allows alerts to be sent to authorities if a car is illegally parked in a mobility park.

If the reported misuse relates to a public carpark it will be shared in real time with the Christchurch City Council’s Parking Enforcement Team so it can take action.

The Access Aware app, developed for CCS Disability Action by ThunderMaps, is due to be released on 1 October and allows users to share information about the location of mobility parks.

“Misuse of mobility parks in New Zealand is a big issue and a real concern for those with disabilities who have a genuine need for these parking spaces,’’ said city council Smart Cities Programme Manager Teresa McCalllum.

“With this project we hope to begin solving the problem of mobility parking card abuse and make it easier for those with disabilities to find parks.’’

CCS Disability Action chief executive David Matthews said this world-first initiative could prove life-changing for Christchurch residents with access issues.

“Our research shows that levels of parking abuse have not approved in 10 years, with abuse rates still unacceptably high despite increases in fines and attempts to grow awareness of the problem.

“Using a mobility parking space without a permit even for just a minute can block a disabled person’s opportunity to live life freely,’’ Mr Matthews said.


  1. Please consider placing these at South Library where there are only 3 disabled parks for a lot of users and there are often vehicles without disability cards parked. Some people park for “just a minute” which seems to be a variable length of time, some have been known to sit in their car in these parks using the free internet. Parking elsewhere in the carpark is verging on dangerous if wheelchair bound. To reach a ramp You either have to wheel through the car park amidst backing cars and traffic entering and leaving, or wheel through the park the other way with identical hazards to reach the footpath access at the river side. I think a lot of people are unaware that there is a process and cost to users of these cards so that when non disabled use them they are in fact stealing from those entitled to use them.

  2. I would like to see the change in the use of different signs for the 3 predominant people that use these parks.

    Parks for the elderly, which you put close to the doors of the shops due to their general walking mobility issues.

    Wheelchair parks- Wider parks and these dont necessarily need to be right by the door as pretty much most users can propel their manual or electric chairs without having weakness or shortage of breath. If they are pushed by someone they are usually able bodied people. Alot of wheelchair users I have spoke to would not find this an issue as the issue is having a wide enough park, not the fact that it is closer to doors or shops.

    Wheelchair van parks which need to be alot wider and deeper due to the ramps coming from the side or the rear.

    These all could have a slightly different sign –
    Elderly could have a walking frame and the word ELDERLY ONLY
    Wheelchair parks use the STD SIGN
    Pic of a van with a wheelchair in and the word RAMPED VEHICLES

    Also the placement could be thought out better ie: each end of a row of parks and parks by a ramped walking entrance.
    Just a little more thought to work better with the layout of the car park and shops.
    Lets face it, we have an aging population and there are more and more very mobile people that use a mobility aid to get around.
    Food for thought

  3. If they have an app that can tell if a non compliant vehicle is park in a disability space, they should also have the know how to indicate WHERE there are empty (spare spaces) parks, for those of us who can’t find one. Or at least indicate which ones are available to park in.