Should women have their own parking spaces?

 

A few weeks ago I read that the introduction of ladies-only parking spaces at Frankfurt airport had sparked a sexism row in Germany.

The new ‘Ladies Parking’ section had been painted pink, had bigger parking bays closer to the terminal and, according to airport authorities, would offer ‘quick, safe and convenient parking’.

Of course, there was immediate criticism from some who branded the move sexist but Frankfurt airport is by no means the first to introduce single gender parking.

In 2014 the South Korean capital of Seoul spent a reported $100 million on initiatives to make the city more female-friendly, including the introduction of new parking spaces marked with bright pink outlines and a skirted woman logo.

Even further back, there was uproar in the German Black Forest town of Triberg when the Mayor introduced both male and female parking spaces in a new car park. The Mayor was reported as saying that some of the spaces were not rectangular, were at an angle to the road and were placed between walls and pillars, making parking difficult. The spaces were clearly considered much too difficult for women to use as they were promptly allocated to men, while females were instructed to park in wider, well-lit alternatives.

Of course, it is highly patronising and stereotypical to make the assumption that all men are good at parking while all women are terrible at it. To pass a driving test in the first place everyone – regardless of gender – is required to demonstrate their ability to park a vehicle.

But is there any place for female only spaces? I have to admit that I personally would be happy to use a female only space – it would probably be closer to my destination, would be easy to manoeuvre into and, if it was well-lit, it might also make me feel safer. But the biggest factor for me would be in knowing I had more space around my vehicle – and that’s got absolutely nothing to do with my own parking ability, but the ability of others, whether male or female.

Since having children I’ve absolutely delighted in using family spaces, simply because are bigger. Yes, I have the extra space to get my children out of the car – and all the related equipment that comes with having children – but I also walk away from my car knowing it’s less likely to get damaged by another vehicle attempting to get into the space beside me or by the occupant of another vehicle opening their car doors onto mine.

I’m pretty sure that’s not the reason for the introduction of family spaces – or for women only spaces – but it’s a good enough reason for me to use them. In fact when my children grow up I have to admit that not only will I be sad to see their younger years left behind but I’ll be disappointed that my only parking option will be a return to using regular, ‘small’ spaces.

Perhaps I need to move somewhere that has introduced female only spaces. Or, even better, perhaps all parking spaces are in need of a refresh. I think the German Automobile Association got it right when, in reference to the introduction of the women only spaces at Frankfurt airport, it was quoted as saying: “We believe that in car parks, every parking space should be a ‘women’s parking space. The means making sure every space and stairwell is well-lit, avoiding blind spots and corners and installing sufficient electronic security systems.” This definitely sounds good to me.

What do you think of gender-specific parking spaces? Let us know by emailing oms@virtualriskmanager.net or tweeting @One_More_Second.

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