Parkex review 

Earlier this year DMUK attending a trade show called Parkex at the NEC in Birmingham where exhibitors were displaying absolutely everything to do with parking. This included all different types of payment machines, signposts, enforcement agencies and clothing for parking attendants. Our reason for attending was to promote our Disabled Parking Award (DPA) but I was also interested to see other new ideas coming into the parking world.

One of the first exhibits I was happy to test out was a new parking machine which is going to be installed in NCP car parks. NCP are replacing a lot of their parking machinery and have asked DMUK to help them ensure it is accessible for disabled people. These new machines have buttons very similar to the flush you sometimes get in toilets where you hardly have to touch it, however instead of flushing a toilet these machines issued a parking ticket. The help button is also designed in a similar way meaning summoning help when you can’t take a ticket is also really easy. NCP are aiming to have the DPA in 100 of their car parks by the end of the year and DMUK is delighted to help them achieve this goal.

We were also thrilled that the parking company UKPC have pledged to get 50 of their car parks the DPA. They have already achieved the award for two of the car parks they manage at the Metrocentre in Newcastle and Braehead shopping centre. A number of other parking companies and local authorities were also very interested in the award scheme. For more information on the DPA and to fibnd an accessible car park visit www.dpaward.org .

Another parking machine I was interested to see was designed by the company Metric. The system called Vivopark uses automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to enable people to enter a car park without having to pass through a barrier. This system is now being used at some Tesco stores as Tesco wanted to ensure that only their customers parked in their car parks. What happens is when someone enters the car park their number plate is registered by the ANPR cameras. After shopping at the store a customer is given a voucher which they then need to scan to validate their parking. I can see other potential uses for this type of system especially since a Blue Badge has a bar code on the back. I’m sure many badge holders would be happy if a similar system was used by Tesco to ensure only Blue Badge holders parked in the accessible bays. www.metricgroup.co.uk .

The next exhibition stand that caught my eye was from the company Audax. They produce body worn cameras for people involved in law enforcement to wear. As DMUK members may have read I have been on a number of enforcement days trying to catch Blue Badge abusers and I thought this kind of equipment may be of use to the staff on patrol. This is because on a number of occasions people accused of mis-using Blue Badges have become really aggressive and this behaviour tends to improve when someone is on camera. It also helps to make staff behave better as well. I was happy to test out a head held camera around the NEC and it was surprisingly easy to forget I was wearing it. www.audaxuk.com .

There were all kinds of different signposts on display at the exhibition. The ones that naturally caught my eye were those displaying the universal disabled sign. One such sign was made by the company TMP solutions that make self-righting bollards which are also solar powered. One of the complaints we hear about is that disabled bays are often poorly marked out but with one of these bollards at the end of the bay I think they would be hard to miss. www.tmp.solutions .

Another interesting sign design was from the company Swarco who have signs designed a bit like blinds for windows. These are called prism signs and allow different messages to be displayed on the same sign as it can be rotated. These signs are already on use on the roads but it’s interesting to see them close up. www.swarco.com/stl .

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the only way to pay for parking was by coins. However, payment online or by phone or phone App is now becoming much more available which is a great benefit to many disabled people. However, the company RingGo in conjunction with BMW is making parking and paying for parking even easier. Basically information on space availability in the car park is fed into the car computer and then once the car is parked automatic payment can be made through a cashless account.

The Parkex event is held in conjunction with Traffex which is absolutely everything to do with traffic and road management. There is even a life sized road set up with a pedestrian crossing and traffic lights which needs to be crossed in order to get to the café area and loos. I also like to look around Traffex as it’s amazing what products you can find which weren’t actually designed for disabled people but could still make a difference to our lives.

For many ambulant disabled people walking is considerably easier on flat surfaces without potholes or deep cracks. One of the products on display in Traffex was a product called Paving guard made by the company AssetCare which is an acrylic polyurethane hybrid which when poured on a pavement seals in all the cracks and makes is flat. This is generally used on pavements but is also suitable for driveways. AssetCare also produce a product called Instagrip which is a paint on anti-skid material which I also thought might be useful for some peoples driveways. For more information call 01827 871871 or email ultrascape@instarmac.co.uk .

There were many other products on display but these were just the ones that caught my eye. This exhibition really does show that the technology is there to make parking easier for disabled people it’s just a matter of getting parking operators to install it.

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