Jessica Lewis Speaks Out On Parking Issues

August 8, 2017

[Written by Don Burgess]

Paralympian Jessica Lewis is speaking out for the differently abled after another incident of people parking in the disabled parking spots at Horseshoe Bay.

Ms Lewis posted a photo of four cars who took up the disabled spots at Horseshoe, stating one woman had the audacity to tell her, ‘You could wheel just like she had to walk.’”

The Paralympian said this is a common problem in Bermuda, stating “it happens every single day from what I have seen and experienced and what my friends have experienced.”

She had posted many other photos of vehicles taking up the disabled spots when they did not have a right to do so.

Video featuring Ms Lewis from Lisa Pickering’s “10 Most” Bermuda series in 2015:

Ms Lewis added it costs money to get the pass, and pass medical examinations to prove that they need it, “so it’s extremely frustrating when the spots are not enforced.”

She said that differently abled people face many disrespectful comments like the one she experienced on Sunday.

“I have had an incident where the person acted like I didn’t exist and just waved me off like I didn’t matter. I am also astounded by the way people feel they can speak to me. I am a functioning human being about to get my university degree, and I’m often talked to like I don’t have a brain and no feelings just because I am in a wheelchair.”

Ms Lewis said people who have mobility issues added it is not just the fact the space is closer but because they need the space to be able to get their wheelchair or other mobility aid out of the car or “the surface around those spots are safer for us to move on.

“Such as at Horseshoe the parking lot ground has ditches in it which my front wheels on my chair would have gotten stuck in and I would have fallen. But by the handicap spot, there is a smooth concrete path,” she added.

“People outside the differently abled or who don’t have mobility problems don’t fully understand how hard it is to live in Bermuda. Accessibility is terrible, and nothing is really being done about it.”

Ms Lewis called for heavier fines and enforcing the rules as a deterrent.

“People need to be more respectful of the differently abled community. Bermuda needs to realize that we can be contributing members to our society but are being held back through the lack of transportation and general accessibility.”

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Comments (35)

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  1. Hope says:

    Sadly we experience this all the time. We too have a pass and those without simply don’t respect those who need it. The space on Church St outside Washington Mall is frequently used by cars without a disabled tag. Similarly Gorham’s never enforce the spaces they have reserved. Despite reporting this to city hall, the police and business owners, nothing is done. We need fines enforced.

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    “I am a functioning human”

    Yes, you are and it is a sad reflection on us all that you have to state the obvious.

    I do not recall Jean Howes being treated so badly, why should Jessica Lewis be treated so?

  3. just wondering says:

    The Corporation had a remedy for this – it was called clamping – but the only voices that were heard were those complaining about how awful it was that their car was clamped if they exceeded the time of their stay or parked in the wrong place – its a shame there wasn’t more vocal SUPPORT for the Corporation in this area – offending vehicles should be clamped its as simple as that – THEN the problem will stop

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Actually, the voices that were heard against clamping were those of The Centre for Justice and the Chief Justice of Bermuda. The Centre for Justice argued that clamping was illegal under the current law and the Chief Justice agreed.

      • ramblings says:

        This is only because the laws to allow clamping were not legally implemented. As the Chief Justice pointed out in his summation, all that needed to happen was to “properly gazette the change of regulations” (as required by law)

        • just wondering says:

          and has the AG chambers done that?? no! So lobby your MP if you want this sorted out

      • VJ says:

        They weren’t against clamping per se. They were against the illegal clamping of cars.

      • just wondering says:

        no – I am talking before the case went to court – neither the CoJ nor the CJ said clamping was a bad thing – they said and held that clamping was not allowed as the necessary legislation had not been advertised properly – big difference

  4. Deborah says:

    Fines for disabled parking need to be $250 and higher. Plus their vehicle needs to be towed at their expense on top of the fine. For a repeat offended the fine needs to be 4 times higher than their previous charge. People need to learn respect and stop breaking the laws.

  5. Born this way says:

    Jessica, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I am a disabled 68 year old man with spina bifida who has had similar parking experiences.
    There have been several other incidents, too numerous to mention and now I have my phone handy to take pictures of the perpetrators’ cars and have reported them to the Traffic Division of the Bermuda Police Service which has proven to be effective.

    I’m not so sure why some able bodied persons are so thoughtless and uncaring of persons with physical disabilities. In some people’s minds we are still looked upon as being second class citizens, shunned and ignored. It’s really sad, because we have so much to offer and these same people should realize that one day they may be disabled.

  6. David Semos says:

    It would be nice it someone who works at or is responsible for these areas could be charged (given the power of a traffic warden) with giving out parking tickets. Johnny on the spot so to speak. This would help maybe not stop but you think twice next time.

  7. Um.... says:

    Bermuda, we have to do better. I feel for Jessica and similar persons. Fines should be at minimum $300 and the vehicle towed at the owners expense. This isn’t a matter of due care or what not. This is about human decency.

  8. frank says:

    a cleaning company van frequently parks in a reid street spot not far from washinton lane

  9. watching says:

    I think they should increase the fines for parking in disabled spots to $500 and ensure they are enforced. This is ridiculous.

  10. No No No says:

    I totally understand your frustration and agree that these able people are insensitive and pretty much don’t care about anybody but themselves I have for years as an able person watched so many people parking in handicap bays and always thought how do they do that with a conscience knowing they are not disabled. What’s so frustrating is that you have to complain in order for something to be done about it where are the people who should be enforcing this? Horseshoe Bay parking lot was not well thought of whomever was the architect or the one who came up with idea to build the parking lot with those cobblestones and have grass in between them was not thinking that people would have to walk on that to get to your cars, it’s not very comfortable if you are barefoot. Jessica I apologize for the people who have no respect for the disabled and Take for granted their ability to function without hurdles.

    On another note I have also seen people who parked their cars in handicap bays with the pass displayed and no disabled person is with them. Yes I get it that they maybe dropped them off or have to pick them up but you car owners know that you are abusing your right because of the pass and you are also taking the bay away from the real disabled person who has to use the bay to actually take out their wheelchair or ramp because they are independent. One lady parked in a handicap bay every morning and went to work and the car was there all day with the pass displayed in her mirror and she had no disability. Come on everyone lets stop only thinking it’s all about you and get the courtesy back we use to have.

    • Vigilante says:

      No No No has it right, those who do such things are simply selfish, self-centred and insensitive in the extreme, a not uncommon trait on the roads here in Bermuda. It is not that they discount the handicapped persons, they just do not think of them at all. The same is true of the drivers who do not indicate, who speed, who double park on Reid/Queen Street, or who use half of my lane as they cut corners coming towards me. I used to think these folk were consciously and personally dissing me and others on the road…it is simply not the case. That would be according them far too much emotional intelligence. Fines are not the answer, as it’s common knowledge you don’t have to pay your fines. Clamping or towing is the only answer to enforce those who use handicap parking without a pass.

      • Lone Wolf says:

        Well said …

        I second that ..

      • Lupie says:

        Not everyone has a visible handicap. I gets looks all the time. The parking permit is mine and I am medically certified. I can speak on behalf of others with chronic illnesses that you may not see. Don’t assume they have nothing wrong.

      • You never know says:

        You are so wrong vigilante and no no no!!!! I have a sticker and you would assume that I am not disabled as I am young lady. But because you can’t see my disability that don’t mean I DON’T have one or that the sticker belongs to someone else!!!!

  11. Born this way says:

    @ No No No..what is your definition of a ‘real disabled person’ only a person that requires a wheelchair?

    A physical disability is a limitation on a person’s physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina.

    There are varying forms of physical disabilities whether one is in a wheel chair or not.

    Re: The lady with the disabled parking badge who parks all day and is not disabled, she has been reported and the authorities know who she is, but she doesn’t care, she just parks in another handicapped parking bay.

    • Moonbeam says:

      so why don’t the authorities act on the guilty lady ???

  12. jt says:

    Photos should constitute enough evidence to apply fines in these cases. Make it easier to punish offenders.

  13. VJ says:

    I live in the States part time, and I have been saying for years that TOWING away cars that are illegally parked is the answer!! People don’t take tickets seriously because they can pay them when they feel like it, if at all. If they know that there’s a chance that they’ll come back and find their car gone, they’ll definitely think twice.

    Park illegally, car is towed away (major inconvenience) plus on the spot fine before your car is released. Trust me, you’ll see a major decline in illegal parking if this happens.

    • PBanks says:

      Agree. Fine, plus whatever fee is owed to the tow truck company. Get some enforcement in place. Maybe people will start to be more considerate then.

  14. HALF HOT says:

    $1000.00 they will think twice about it.

  15. Tow them says:

    This is why towing is needed. If they towed the cars or not allowed the cars to be passed for licensing for nonpayment of fines then this will stop. People do it because they know they can get away with it. Just take their car make them pay $300 or more after once they will not do it again.

    • Lone Wolf says:

      Not allowing relicensing before fines are paid will only see more people driving unlicensed cars. And why pay insurance if you aren’t licensed …. so that won’t work either.

      Clamping or Towing is the ONLY answer.

  16. Onionjuice says:

    The lady that made the NASTY comment that Jessica could wheel herself.. Just a nasty person you are.. But Karma will get you

  17. Cranberry says:

    You can have as many laws as you want and fines as high as you want – but if you don’t enforce them – it’s just smoke and is totally meaningless to the micro-brains (and micro other pieces) and baldies that have no respect for the laws in the first place…

    It would be a shame if your wheelchair wasn’t able to fit past their car and it got scratched. .. such a shame…

  18. cpm says:

    Gorhams is the worst followed by A 1 in Smiths although that’s usually parking to go to the restaurant

  19. Concerned Parent says:

    Thank you Jessica. Our family has had to deal with this, as my father is also in a wheel chair, and at one point many years ago, I also needed a disability tag. I was not in a chair, but I had difficulty walking long distances. PEOPLE, PLEASE NOTE THAT NOT ALL PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES ARE IN WHEELCHAIRS!!!!

    It is important to note that, as it is now, individual stores with private parking lots are responsible for their own disabled parking spots. Some don’t even have them (Heron Bay Market Place). COMPLAIN! Make your voice loud! Shout it often! If we all start being a voice, we can change the attitudes at stores.

    Street parking and parking lots in town are the responsibility of the Corporation of Hamilton. Again, we have to make noise!

    I’m encouraged that the new government has set a Junior Minister for Disability. I hope that Tineé Furbert will be a roaring lion for the cause of all persons with disabilities.

  20. Navin Johnson says:

    You also have trucks making deliveries using the disabled spots instead of the loading zones spots….

    • Bermy says:

      The loading zones are usually taken up by selfish private cars too. I try to avoid town with my truck as its a nightmare.

  21. Bermudian Momma says:

    It also happens at the airport. When I go to pick up my step-father and mother from the airport – I hang the sticker up in the car as my step-father is differently abled. If all of the special bays are full and none of the cars have the required sticker , I ask the driver’s to move. I don’t always get a positive response but I ask anyway.

    • Bermy says:

      Tell the airport traffic officer (ATO) they will ask them to move immediately and/or ticket them