Recently, I encountered a challenge in parking my accessible van. I had to circle a parking lot that had a bunch of wheelchair accessible parking spots, but none were available. Are there enough handicap parking spots? Do businesses offer enough disabled parking and wheelchair-accessible spaces? Is it even up to the business or is it up to the town or city for how many spots are placed in a parking lot?
The Lack of Disabled Parking Spaces
After going up and down six different rows of parking twice (each of the six rows had handicap spots on each side), I became frustrated. Do I keep driving around this parking lot, waiting for someone to pull out of a wheelchair accessible space? I ended up driving six miles to another store where I did find handicap parking available.
I really struggle with the fact that I could not find parking at this major grocery store. It was not a holiday weekend and there were no events going on that would cause an influx of people to be visiting a grocery store. I’ve encountered parking problems at smaller businesses or stores, specifically in strip malls where there might be only two spots available or a restaurant where there might only be two or three handicap parking spots.
When No Disabled Parking is Available
When I arrive at my destination and there is no accessible parking available, I drive my van to the end of the parking lot where there aren’t any cars. I park sideways across the white lines, so that my ramp sticks out into one of the rows. This prevents someone from parking next to me and blocking access to my ramp. When I return to my vehicle, I can drive up the ramp easily in my Quantum power wheelchair.
Another tactic I’ve used for parking is that I try to take up two regular spaces, by parking my vehicle in the middle of the white line next to where the cart return is. This prevents people from parking next to my ramp and blocking me in. This is a last resort, however, because parking next to the cart return increases the chance that a cart will hit my van.
Handicap License Plates vs. Handicap Parking Permit
I understand that when you are assigned a disabled parking tag it is for a reason. Still, one could argue that an individual who uses a Quantum power wheelchair and drives a van with a side-entry ramp should get priority over someone with a handicap parking permit who is driving a four-door sedan. This person could park their car close to the entrance and get into the store just fine.
I have permanent disabled parking license plates on my vehicle. I do not have a placard or tag that hangs from my rearview mirror. I think that every parking lot should have one space designated for license plate-only disabled parking. This would provide more accessible spots for vans with wheelchair ramps. I understand that may this would not work at a smaller parking lot for a restaurant or a strip mall, however, at a big store like Costco, I think this might be beneficial. My plan is to bring up this issue at the next board meeting for my town and see what they think!
About Josh McDermott: Josh is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. He is a public speaker and has served as a goodwill ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Josh lives in New York and loves to travel. Click hereto learn more about Josh.
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