Help with getting around

If you have Parkinson's, you might be worried about how it will affect your ability to get out and about.

Parkinson's shouldn't stop you from getting around - there are different transport and travel schemes you may be able to apply for to make travelling a bit easier.

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The aim of the Blue Badge scheme is to help people with severe mobility problems, registered blind people and those with severe disabilities in both arms to park closer to places, services or facilities they wish to visit or use.

With a Blue Badge on display, a vehicle driven by a disabled person, or with a disabled person as a passenger, can be parked:

  • without charge or time limit at on-street parking meters and in Pay and Display bays (unless signs show a time limit for badge holders)
  • without time limit in streets where you would usually only be able to wait for limited periods
  • for a maximum of 3 hours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or without any time limit in Scotland, where there are parking restrictions shown by yellow lines.

This is only if the disabled person leaves the vehicle, and:

  • in England and Wales, a special parking clock is also displayed showing the time of arrival, if the vehicle is parked on yellow lines or in a reserved parking place for badge holders that has a time limit
  • the vehicle is not parked in a bus lane or cycle lane during the lane’s hours of operation
  • the vehicle is not parked where there is a ban on loading or unloading
  • all other parking rules are met.

Your car should not be wheel-clamped if you display a current Blue Badge, but the police may remove the vehicle if it's causing an obstruction.

It's an offence to display a Blue Badge if the disabled person is not, or has not been, in the vehicle. The only exception is if the driver is on the way to collect a disabled person, or has just dropped them off.

The Blue Badge scheme applies throughout the UK, except for certain London boroughs (City of London, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and part of Camden) who have their own versions. These boroughs do have some parking concessions for Blue Badge holders, so contact them to find out more.

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You might qualify for a Blue Badge automatically or you may need to undergo an assessment.

Automatic qualification

To automatically qualify for a Blue Badge you must:

  • be getting the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, or
  • be assessed as having 8 points or more under the 'moving around' activity of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment or, in Scotland and Wales, 12 points under the 'planning and following journeys' activity, or
  • be getting War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement, or
  • have received a lump sum payment from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (within tariff levels 1-8) and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability that causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking, or
  • have scored 10 points specifically for descriptor E (being unable to undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress) under the ‘planning and following journeys’ activity of the Personal Independence Payment assessment (this automatic exemption will apply from the 30th August 2019), or
  • be registered blind.

Qualifying through assessment

To qualify through assessment you must have a permanent and substantial disability which causes you to:

  • be unable to walk, or
  • experience considerable difficulty walking, which may include severe psychological distress, or
  • be at risk of serious harm to yourself or others when walking.

As well as meeting one of the criteria above, you must also:

  • drive a vehicle regularly, have a severe disability in both arms and be unable to operate, or have considerable difficulty in operating, all or some types of parking meter, or
  • in Scotland, be unable to walk or virtually unable to walk because of a temporary but substantial disability which is likely to last for at least 12 months, or
  • in Scotland, lack an awareness of the danger from traffic, either for a temporary period of at least 12 months or permanently, or
  • in Wales, as a result of a severe cognitive impairment, be unable to follow the route of a journey without the help of someone else, or
  • in Wales, have a terminal illness that seriously limits your mobility.

You can check if you're eligible and apply for or renew your application on the website.

You can also contact your local authority. Local authorities in England and Northern Ireland can charge up to £10 (or £20 in Scotland) to give you a badge. A badge will last for up to 3 years.

Appealing a decision

If your local authority refuses to issue you with a Blue Badge, you have no formal right of appeal. However, as many authorities have internal procedures for dealing with reviews, it's worth writing to ask for a review.

In Scotland there is a formal review process. If a local authority decides that you do not qualify, you can ask for a review of the decision within 28 days of receiving it.

There's no limit on how many times you can apply for a Blue Badge. If you're unsuccessful on your first attempt and your situation changes, you're free to try again.

Using your Blue Badge abroad

Blue Badge holders visiting European Union countries that provide disabled parking concessions can take advantage of those by displaying their badge. Concessions vary from country to country.

You can find details in the European Commission leaflet, 'Parking card for people with disabilities in the European Union'.

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Blue Badge holders can be exempt from the congestion charge in central London if they apply to the Congestion Charge Office. There's a £10 administration fee.

Visit the Transport for London website for an application form. This exemption can be used on any 2 vehicles.

Vehicles taxed in the ‘Disabled’ class are automatically exempt if they are registered at DVLA, Swansea.

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The Motability scheme lets disabled people exchange a ‘qualifying benefit’ to lease a car (including cars adapted to carry a driver or passenger seated in their wheelchair), powered wheelchair or mobility scooter.

Qualifying benefits include: the higher-rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, the enhanced-rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment, War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement and Armed Forces Independence Payment.

Find out more about Motability on their website.

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If you use a car to get around and want to know more about driving when you have Parkinson’s, you may find our information on driving and Parkinson’s useful.

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If you have a disability, you might find a Radar key helpful. These allow you to unlock more than 9,000 accessible public toilets across the UK. You can purchase a Radar key from Disability Rights UK.

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Under the Equality Act, the government can make bus companies ensure that disabled people can get on and off buses safely and ‘without too much difficulty’ and also travel ‘in safety and reasonable comfort’. 

To find out about public transport in London, including disabled access, you can visit Transport for London's website.

Outside London, local authorities are in charge of public transport. Contact your local authority to find out more about disabled public transport access in your area.

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If you need to make special arrangements to travel by rail because of your Parkinson’s (or any other condition), call National Rail Customer Services on 0800 022 3720 or textphone Enquiries on 0845 60 50 600.

You might be able to get a Disabled Person’s Railcard, which gives you and a companion 1 third off the cost of most train journeys. The card costs £20 for one year or £54 for 3 years. 

You will need to show that you receive 1 of the following benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement
  • War Disablement Pension

Or you must have 1 of the following conditions: 

  • Visual impairment
  • Epilepsy
  • Hearing impairment

If you're in Northern Ireland you can apply for the similar Half Fare Smartpass. Contact Translink on 0845 600 0049 or pick up an application form from Translink bus and rail stations, Social Security Offices, Health and Social Care Trusts, or Driver and Vehicle Licensing NI.

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Your local authority will have a concessionary fare scheme for older and disabled people.

Each nation in the UK sets the minimum that should be available to help pay for travel. Who qualifies as a disabled person for this help also varies between each country in the UK.

  • In England, if you've reached pension age or you're disabled, you can get free off-peak local bus travel.
  • In Wales, if you're aged 60 or over or you're disabled, you can travel for free on local buses at any time of day. Holders of a Welsh Government Concessionary Bus Pass can obtain a 34% discount on some rail fares on the Valley Lines Network in South Wales.
  • In Scotland, if you're aged 60 or over or are disabled, a National Entitlement Card allows you to use national and local buses for free at any time of day.
  • In Northern Ireland, you can travel free if you're aged 65 or over, are registered blind or are a War Disablement pensioner, and for half price if you have a listed disabling condition or receive certain benefits.

Some local authorities may offer more than the minimum to residents. For instance, in London, the Freedom Pass lets older and disabled people use London buses, tubes, trains and trams free of charge (time restrictions apply in some cases). Contact your local authority to find out more about what they can offer you.

If you’re 60 or over, you may be able to get discounted coach travel. For example, National Express has a Senior Coachcard that costs £12.50 (plus £2.50 p&p) and gives a third off standard fares for a year.

Many companies also offer reduced fares for disabled people. You can get more details from the coach companies.

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Help with getting around (PDF, 164KB)

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Out and about

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"I go out pretty well every day of the week and that keeps me sane."

In this short video, Janet talks about the schemes and equipment that help her to stay active and make everyday trips, such as to the shops.

Last updated July 2019. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]