Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

Listen to the A11y Rules Podcast.

Using A Wheelchair And Fueling Up At Petrol Station

Gas station, petrol station, no matter how you call it, they are a usually a pain when you’re a wheelchair user. Basically, it is very difficult to reach the pump’s controls. But it doesn’t *have* to be and accessible fuel pumps are available to companies when they put pumps in.

There was a call recently to boycott BP stations, because of that company’s handling of the oilspill. Setting aside the validity (or lack thereof) of such a boycott, I had to say that the local BP station is the only one where I can actually reach the controls (albeit barely) and use the pump myself. So I continue to go to that station.

As an aside, it isn’t really a question of company, but individual owner’s policies, as another wheelchair user had a horrible experience at a BP station in Auckland earlier this year: Told he had to pump his own, but also told he couldn’t be on the forecourt in his wheelchair. Doh! But that’s another story.

A few weeks ago I received petrol vouchers at the supermarket for having purchased above a certain amount of groceries. This particular voucher was to be used at the pumps owned by that supermarket. Fine. I went to fill up, and could not reach the control to put in my voucher code. I noticed that I would not be able to reach the controls to pay with my EFTPOS card either, nor see the screen for the instructions. So my options were to go fuel up somewhere else, or give someone my PIN number so I could avail myself of that $0.10/liter off. As you can imagine, neither option was particularly pallatable.

What gets to me about this is that this petrol station is relatively new – build within the last 5 years. There have been accessible pumps available for longer than that. Why hasn’t the store put in at least 1 accessible pump?

Meanwhile, Stateside, the US Justice Department reached a comprehensive settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act with QuikTrip Corporation, a company owning over 550 gas stations throughout the US. It looks like QuikTrip’s stations were not accessible, nor were their pumps. There’s a settlement fund of $1.5 million. They’ve also agreed to make renovations to their stores, train their staff, change policies, make their website accessible, and to:

Ensure that at least two fueling positions at each of its current stores and all fueling positions at each store opened after the entry of the consent decree are accessible to individuals with disabilities, including the fuel dispenser controls, self-service payment mechanism, call button and amenities. At QuikTrip stores opened after approval of the consent decree, two fuel dispensers will be on the shortest accessible route to the store entrance

Wow! That’s nice.

I doubt this decision will have ANY impact in New Zealand. But it would be nice if a percentage of new pumps in New Zealand were accessible. Doesn’t it make sense to do it right? Unfortunately, ignorance stands firmly in the way.

2 thoughts on “Using A Wheelchair And Fueling Up At Petrol Station

  1. As a shorter individual, I’m finding that a lot of new bowsers seem to be taller & there\\\’s nowhere to put my petrol cap. I’d hate to be using a wheelchair. If new buildings are meant to be wheelchair accessible, why aren’t bowsers?

Comments are closed.