Test report - BBNav
BBNav is a satnav system which includes information about blue badge and other parking facilities for disabled people. Five blue badge holders tried it out for us.
There are 2.3 million blue badge holders in the UK. A satnav that guides you towards parking spaces for disabled people is a great idea.
BBNav is the only system that has comprehensive information about parking for disabled people. It will tell you where they are and take you to them and is certanly worth considering if you drive to unfamiliar places a lot. However some of our testers found it slow and unintuitive to use so you have to be prepared to live with these shortcomings.
At around £200 it is more expensive than most SatNavs and lacks some of features some of them have, such as voice control or monitoring for traffic jams.
We think all satnavs should have information about parking for disabled people, as a matter of course. We wrote to nine satnav companies to ask if they had any plans to add this information to their systems they either did not reply or said they had no plans to do so. So don't hold your breath.
Our testers found BBNav hard to set up. The two instruction booklets take some study and there was no quick guide to get you started. Mastering the system took practice.
Many people use Satnavs away from their car to plan journeys in advance. It was charged up through its USB computer link which meant it could not be used for long periods away from a computer without running down the battery. If this is a problem you will need to buy a separate charger that plugs directly into the mains.
BBNav has information on over 10,000 parking spaces in over 100 areas. These include Blue Badge bays, on street parking and accessible car parks. Car parks are graded from 1 to 3 to show how accessible they are for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility, and the system includes details of entrance height restrictions - useful if you have a high converted vehicle or carry your wheelchair on top of your car.
As well as designated parking bays it includes accessible public toilets, accessible accommodation, beaches with disabled access, Shopmobility centres and wheelchair accessible boats. No other sat nav system provides this information. The blue badge information is updated by the manufacturer regularly, based on information provided to them by local authorities and other service providers and through a system of first hand inspections.
Some non-disability points of interest such as museums, bars and pubs have been programmed in. All of these show up on the maps as you are travelling, and all can be set as destinations before you start.
On the road
Entering destinations was tricky unless the built in stylus was used as the touch screen could be unresponsive.
Most people thought the BBNav gave clear directions in good time and in a clear voice. The map display was easy to see. Parking spaces on the map showed up well.
You may have difficulty if you have limited dexterity. The touch screen would be difficult for anyone without good finger control. The stylus was very thin and hard to grip, and the on/off switch and connecting leads needed some dexterity.
BBNav has Bluetooth so you can link it to other devices such as a mobile phone, a music, video or ebook player or photo album.
Other ways of finding Blue Badge parking spaces
PIE guides information
BBNav information is provided by Public Information Exchange. They also publish this information in other forms:
Online. The information used by BBNav was originally commissioned by Directgov, and is available free as an interactive online map on the DirectGov website. You select the area you want and the information you want to see on a map.
For mobile phones with internet access, a version of the blue badge map can be accessed by texting: BLUE to 83377. You will be charged at the standard SMS rate by your phone company but the messages you receive to set up the service are free.
On a map. The Concise Blue Badge UK Road Atlas (£9.99) and the Blue Badge Parking Guide for London (£4.99) are available from bookshops, directly from Pie Online or by calling 020 7952 0456
The printed maps have information not included in the online or satnav versions. For example, you get more information on blue badge rules, information on the accessibility of individual theatres, sports arenas hospital parking and information on parking, at the five London airports.
223 Pentonville Road
London N1 9NG
Customer Enquiry Line: 084 4847 0876
Fax: 0844 847 0881
Blue Badge Parking Maps is a website onto which you can add information about any blue badge spaces you know. You can use this information online or feed it into TomTom, Garmin, MioMap or Navman satnav systems or onto your computer. It's free. However the information it contains depends on what its users have provided, so its coverage is patchy and does not include all spaces.
Some local authorities have maps (or online details) of local parking spaces. Contact yours directly to find out.
Note on parking in central London
Because of serious parking problems in central London, four boroughs (The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, City of Westminster, City of London and London Borough of Camden) have their own permit and parking schemes. There are Blue Badge bays in these areas which you can use. Otherwise rules are different. For example you cannot park free of charge in a meter or pay and display bay in these areas. For more information and a map of parking spaces go to www.bluebadelondon.org.uk
Next Page: BBNav coverage