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New app helps disabled drivers find parking spaces in France

French quadruple amputee athlete Philippe Croizon is behind the campaign

Philippe Croizon and Thierry Garot have launched a new app to make it easier for disabled people to find parking spaces Pic: Symaps

French quadruple amputee athlete Philippe Croizon has embarked on a new entrepreneurial challenge - a new app to help disabled people find disabled parking spaces faster.

The app - called VIP for Very Important Parking - aims to reunite a community of users, and uses geolocalisation to highlight disabled parking spaces in public areas.

The idea emerged from Mr Croizon’s personal experience while he was touring many French cities last summer with his associate and co-founder of the app, Thierry Garot.

“It all came after [I suffered] increasing struggles,” he said to The Connexion. “I was driving in circles looking for a space. I could not find where they were hidden.”

Mr Croizon, who describes himself as ‘a handipreneur’, said that many of France’s cities did not meet the legal criteria for accessibility for disabled people, including the obligation for towns to reserve 2% of all spaces for disabled drivers.

More than 12 million people in France live with a disability, according to government figures. More than 500,000 hold a ‘carte mobilité inclusion’ for parking reasons.

“I’m carrying out this project like I carry out every one of my adventures,” said Mr Croizon, who made a name for himself in the hearts of people in France for his incredible sports challenges, such as swimming the Channel.

Read also: ‘I set up an invisible disabilities media company after my diagnosis’

500,000 spaces located

The first response to the app by beta testers has been extremely positive, Mr Croizon said, with more than 2,000 new sign-ups in 15 days.

“It is like a game for them,” he said.

Users have contributed to the app by adding their own space recommendations to the 500,000 already indexed by the app, from a collaboration with parking space companies Indigo and Effia.

The rapid success of the app has already convinced Mr Croizon to expand further, and enable disabled people to let others know of other useful services.

“[Disabled] spaces in public toilets, beaches, amusement areas, mountains…Every area that is part of the great chain of mobility is to be indexed - hopefully,” he said.

Very Important Parking is available on Android, Play Store and Apple Store for €2.99 monthly, or €19.99 for life.

Related articles 

Mimie Mathy: French TV star who turned disability into a driving force

French, English and Irish swim team sets new Channel record

‘I hit rock bottom, learned to swim and then swam the Channel’

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