20 February 2010

Daily Fail

I don't know why I do it to myself. I can normally avoid exposure, but having woken up far too early for what I would consider acceptable on a Saturday morning, I resolutely lay in bed, refusing to get up, instead passing away the minutes until my hunger gave in by trawling through the news on my phone.

There's a widgit that has all the national newspapers in one section. It's not really that much more than a selection of internet bookmarks, but it caches the results so it's quicker easier than general surfing.

As they all have different editorial policy, I'll often flick through several in case I've missed a story that only one paper is covering, but what I won't generally do is bother with The Daily Fail Mail, because I know it will piss me off in some way.

Today, boredom and desperation got the better of me, and I hit the link.

My eyes were drawn to a story titled "Revealed: Why all those disabled bays stay empty", and I had to read it.

Presumably some Daily Mail writer frequently gets irked because when the drive to Waitrose they can't park outside the front doors because those spaces are reserved for people with wheelchairs AND THERE'S NOT EVEN ANYONE PARKED IN THEM!!

What this calls for is some shitty number crunching top investigative journalism!

"Hundreds of thousands of prime parking spaces in Shopping Centres are unused because of a legal obligation to provide four times as many disabled bays than are actually needed", it cries out.

It transpires that a car park with 200 spaces or less is legally obliged to reserve 6% of these for Blue Badge holders - larger than 200 and it's 4%

What bothers the Daily Mail is that just 1.4% of the population is registered disabled.

"6% spaces divided by 1.4% disableds = 4!!!" says someone with a calculator app on their iphone.

Yes it does near as damn it, but as usual The Mail is generalising terribly, taking extremes (not the 4% for larger car parks), and ignoring simple common sense.

Let's keep the numbers nice and simple for you Daily Fail, with a carpark with 100 spaces. One space = 1%. Are you still with me?

Firstly, 1.4% of the population aren't going to need 1.4% of spaces in a car park with room for 100 cars. You can't park 0.4 of a car you fuckwits. They'll need 2 spaces. That's now only three times as many as you thought they needed.

Next, I'm going to make the assumption that you have made the assumption that disabled people are so unnattractive they couldn't possibly have a family or relationships. I'm afraid you're wrong (but I suppose you're used to it by now). 100 cars in the car park doesn't mean 100 people shopping, it means 100 households. Some alone, some with husbands, wives, lovers, children...

The figure you should really be looking at is how many households have someone who is disabled living in them. With average household sizes in the UK at around 2.4% (and having already told you that you can't have 0.4 of a person), I'm going to be generous to you and let you round it down to 2 people. But I will now insist on you doubling you're figure of 1.4% to 2.8%. Hell, lets just say you would need at least 3 spaces in a car park with 100 spaces.

Hmmm..now it's only twice as many as you thought. Or 25% less than you need in the larger carparks.

Nextly, let's look at scale deviation. Lets imagine it is the week before Christmas, and the carpark (with still your OMG SIX SPACES) is at 90% capacity. Two cars arrive, one with a Blue Badge, one without. One parks straight away, the other has to wait because 5.6 cars (there's that bit of a car again - shall we just call it 6?) are already using the disabled bays.

If there were only the average number of disabled shoppers they'd be fine! But that's the problem with averages. They're just an average. A number generated from when sometimes there are a few less, and sometimes there are a few more. Yes, it is twice as many as the 3 I told you that you'd need, but it's only 3 more cars

So they wait.

And for every 16 cars that leave a the car park, one of them will be from a disabled bay. Might be the next car, might not.....

We've all experienced the frustration of driving round a car park looking for a space, but imagine if as cars left you were constantly left still hanging because only 1 in 16 of the spots that were being created you could use, just because you were selfish enough to have foregone your mobility in order to blag some easy parking.

But not only have they got their numbers wrong, they've also failed to see the other glaringly obvious factors.

I can walk to the supermarket, and often do. I take the car for 'the big shop', but if I just need a few bits and pieces I am not forced to drive. Others are.

I can take the bus into town, again it tends to be a preference. Not because of the difficulty or cost in parking, but because the journey is so fucking tedious. Stop..start..stop..start..No thanks, I'll sit and look out the window with my ipod on and let some other mug sit in the traffic. Because I have the choice.

Park and Ride? No problem!

For me.

Time of day might also be a factor. If I was disabled and had any control over when I could fit shopping into my schedule, I'd be least likely to want to go when the aisles were heaving, and protected parking spaces might have been taken by some twat who was just 'popping in' for a ready meal (and a Daily Mail), so bays might appear to be less populated when the rest of the car park is busy.

If the Daily Mail really has a problem with a dozen or so protected spaces in large supermarket car parks, they want taking out and kneecapping. That'll let them use the spaces if they're so incapable of walking a little bit further after a hard day at the office hating immigrants, gays, the unemployed, Northerners.....

But it might interfere with their goosestepping.

And it's probably quite hard to get to the moral highground in a wheelchair - that is unless someone has put plenty of protected parking spaces up there.



  1. I cannot agree with you more. Hating the Mail is a sport. But even sports have times when something particularly unsavoury happens. This is one.
    Good maths btw!

  2. This is on topic, but a gratuitous plug:

    If abuse of disabled parking bothers you, strike back:

    We need people to join our fight!