May 14, 2009

Handicapped Parking

Handicapped parking is getting out of control. Have you noticed just how many handicapped spots there are in parking lots these days? (By way, am I supposed to say "disabled" instead of "handicapped"? It's so hard to keep track of who's offended by what these days.) Don't get me wrong, I think that handicapped people deserve (and need) their own parking spots (after all, it's like the only perk that one receives for being handicapped). It just seems to me that there are A LOT of spots popping up for handicapped parking. Are there new laws being passed? Or are we, as a society, becoming more aware of handicap issues? Or is the U.S. population as a whole becoming more handicapped in general??

Some of these handicapped parking spots are getting ridiculous. There is this one store in my city that has TWELVE handicapped parking spots! It's not a hospital or anyplace where you might expect handicapped people to congregate... it's a liquor store! If I was handicapped, I'd probably be getting drunk every night too, but are there really THAT many handicapped people coming to THAT particular liquor store at any ONE TIME?! I'm not even sure there are twelve handicapped people in the entire city who are of the legal drinking age.

Not only does this store have way too many handicapped parking spots, but they are positioned in the worst ways possible. The store has two parking lots, one on either side, along with a few spots that line up along a driveway that connects the two parking lots to one another at the front of the store.

There are seven handicapped parking spots in the one parking lot that is closest to the front door. However, the parking spots that are actually closest to the front door are not the handicapped spots, but normal spots along the driveway, which are NOT handicapped. How does this make sense? If you're going to designate handicapped parking, then let's give them the closest spots possible, right?

In the other parking lot of this store, there are an additional five handicapped spots, but these are 220 feet away from the entrance! The second lot is much further away from the front door than the first lot, so why not just have all the handicapped parking spaces in the lot that is closest? Needless to say, no one ever parks in these five handicapped spots that are far away because: (1) there is never more than seven handicapped people at the store at the same time, so they can use all the spots in the other lot; and (2) the other lot is a helluva lot closer to the door than this lot, so who wants to roll their wheelchair 220 feet (and then 220 feet back again)? That's like a marathon to a guy in a wheelchair! In fact, if you are in a wheelchair, you would prefer to park in one of the normal spots in the other lot rather than park in the handicapped spot in the far lot, because it would still be over 100 feet closer!

I'm sure that there is some law in our city that defines these parking areas as "two separate lots" and, as a result, each lot needs to have its own dedicated handicapped parking – even though it makes absolutely no sense at all. And I'd be interested to see the city formula that mandates that this liquor store needs a total of twelve handicapped spots. I feel pretty confident that the number "twelve" is equal to the entire handicapped drinking population of our state, let alone the city, let alone the visitors to this particular store. No drunk handicapped person will be left behind!

To make matters even worse, in the far lot that is over 200 feet away, the five spots they have designated for handicapped people are not even the five closest spots in that particular lot! There are two normal spots that are actually closer (check out the map; look for the two yellow Xs - normal spots - as compared to the line of blue stars, which are the handicapped spots). Talk about adding insult to disabling injury - they don't even get the closest spots in the furthest lot!
The big yellow star on the aerial map above is the front door of the store. The blue stars near the stop are handicapped spots in the closer lot, while the vertical line of yellow Xs are the normal spots that are much closer (you can see that is the only place were cars are actually parked). The blue stars near the bottom are more handicapped spots in the far lot that is 220 feet away from the entrance. Do we really need 12 handicapped parking spots here??

I tell you, we are slowly losing all our normal parking spots. First, the handicapped spots appear to be growing in population (and growing erratically, based on the store mentioned above) – like a weed. Secondly, have you seen these "Pregnant Women" parking spots at pharmacies and supermarkets? When did this start? I will acknowledge that pregnant women shouldn't have to walk from the back of the parking lot, but I'm more concerned about the trend in general. What's next?... parking spots for mothers with babies? Parking spots for mothers with toddlers (because it's too dangerous to have a child cross the parking lot)? Parking spots for teenagers (because they are too likely to get into trouble during the walk to through the parking lot)? Parking for elderly? For the tired? For the hungover? In the end, there will only be three designated parking spots in every parking lot in the country... they will be the spots assigned to the "Able-Bodied", and they will be way in the back. Every other spot will be for someone who has some kind of "problem".

But, once again, I am all in favor of handicapped people getting their own spots – please don't get me wrong! I'm just becoming more aware of some of the poor parking planning that is going on, and the slow creep of more and more "special" spots - and just how often they are never used! But there are very few social crimes worse than parking in a handicapped spot when you are an able-bodied person. Who does that?? There are also people who abuse the system by parking in reserved spots with an old, beat-up handicapped tag hanging from their rearview mirror – clearly something they got from their doctor when they broke their leg skiing six years ago, yet they still use it. Old people also abuse the system by parking in a handicapped spot when it's pretty clear that they can still get around OK – we get it, you're old and it sucks, but don't play dumb with me or magically designate yourself as "handicapped", that's not how it works.

Sometimes I will see someone pull into a handicapped spot that looks suspicious. I won't see any tag on their rearview mirror or on their license plate, so I will wait around to watch them exit their car so I can validate their handicap. Sometimes they are all messed up (oops, my bad), but sometimes they are perfectly fine – and they happily stroll into the store! This enrages me. I know that people are basically stupid and horrible, but how do they have the audacity to do this?? Is it really that big of a deal to walk a few extra feet from a normal parking spot to the front door? Even if you had to walk from the back of a giant parking lot, are you so fat and out of shape that you can't do it? (By the way, gluttony is not a disability.) Jesus you're lazy. Do you really have to scam the system like this?

I know I just went on and on about there being perhaps too many handicapped parking spots in this country (and they all seem to go unused), but in most locations there are probably still only one or two reserved spots, and these frauds are going to take one? Just because you possess a rearview mirror tag with a blue wheelchair on it (or you’re driving your handicapped grandmother’s town car) does not mean you can park in the spot! In addition to owning the parking tag, you actually have to be handicapped! I'd like to hear from people that actually do this – what are they thinking? If I was in the movie I Am Legend, and everyone was dead from the virus except for the zombies, then I would park in the handicapped spots... but only under those circumstances.
You better be legless, rich guy!

Would you like me to fix this problem permanently? I have an idea. I think we should pass a new law that states that anyone caught parking in a handicapped parking spot that is not actually handicapped (or driving someone who is handicapped) will have to undergo a medical procedure that will MAKE them handicapped. They can opt between the removal of their left or right foot. If they need to park in that spot so badly, then let's make them really appreciate it.

Wait a minute... I use the handicapped stall in the bathroom. Is that the same thing? That's not the same thing as parking in their spot is it? Actually, maybe it's worse – a handicapped person can wait for a parking spot, they can't wait to use the bathroom (at least not indefinitely). OK, let's forget about the new law for now.

15 comments:

  1. I hate it when I get excited to see a vacant parking spot, only to find out it is for the handicapped! But of course I never park there.

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    1. I am always excited to see a handicap parking spot, too, because I need it. If you really want it, I would trade with you, you take my handicap to use the spot, we can trade back when we are both done shopping.

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  2. i also wonder whether that many handicap parking spots are necessary. they rarely seem used for legitimate purposes.

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    1. Not every handicap is immediately apparent. Some diseases, like Multiple Sclerosis, cause extreme exhaustion with very little exertion. It is possible to look healthy going into the store, but have great difficulty making it back out to your car. Instead of complaining, I would be very thankful you are healthy.

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  3. I wonder if having more handicap parking spaces around these days has anything to do with why golf is so popular. Because I know handicaps are a big issue in the golfing community.

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  4. A liqour store doesn't need 12 handicapped parking spots. But they could use some drunk driving parkings spots.

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  5. This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when the 4 park in a handicapped spot and a woman in a wheelchair crashes trying to get from the back of the parking lot to the store..by herself. My only question, if she was by herself in a wheelchair, how did she drive to the store, and if someone drove her why wouldn't they drop her off in front of the store!! haha

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    1. She drove herslf using a modified vehicle that had hand controls. A wheelchair does not prevent you from driving.

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  6. just because it is a nice car doesnt mean the person isnt handicapped. Also for the person that commented on may 21st, its called the gas and brakes are hand controlled duh.

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  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcRWADEln80

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  8. I found this blog searching for pictures off handicaped parking signs. To clarify, I live in Belgium (yay for google), am father of one 7 month old son, husband, live in a nice house, got a nice job and drive a nice electric wheelchair. I couldn't resist commenting on this post. English isn't my native tongue, as you will notice...

    First of all, I don't know how the laws in the US work, but in theory, here in Belgium, 6% of the total available parking spaces on a lot need to be handicaped spaces. This is a HUGE amount. Having a parkinglot of 2000 spaces means 120 handicap parkingspaces. That's just ridiculous. So, being Belgians, we usually just provide a couple near the closest entrance of the building and kind of "forget" that rule. In the case of a public parkinglot, the correct amount off parkingspaces for disabled people in that parking lot is set in a meeting with the disabled people. Democratic, no?
    Second: not the amount of handicaped spaces is important, but the quality of them. There are very strict guidelines about measurements, surface, surroundings, ect. for a disabled parking. Those are set with a specific purpose. If you need to drive a wheelchair out off the back off a van, you need space and a flat surface. If you need to climb in a wheelchair from the driverseat of your car, you need the place to do so. If you're in a wheelchair and you get out of your car, it's nice that you can acutally climb the curbe next to your car, so you're not forced to use that little ramp on the end of the fucking road. In short, it's not a perk for being disabled, it's just neccessary.
    Third: the location of a disabled parkingspace near the entrance of the building is welcome for people who really can't walk that far. Old people with reuma and such for example. On the other hand, being a wheely myself, it's really not that hard to drive a wheelchair arround. If you can't handle the manual chair, get a powerchair. Some of those things really got some UMPFH.
    Fourth: if parking on a disabled parkingspace, when you don't need to is a really bad thing - couse you really take away the mobility of the person with the disability who can't park anywhere else to leave the car - using a bathroom for disabled people really isn't that bad. A bathroom for disabled people is a PUBLIC restroom (that means everybody) who happens to have some adjustments to make it possible for disabled people to go for a dump there. If you need to go, you need to go. That's true for everybody - not just the wheeled kind. For fuck sake, just use the bathroom that's free. We will wait, just like everybody else. It's called equality.
    In short: disabled parking - better a couple of good onces that 20 bad once's. Disabled bathroom? It's public, it's probably more clean, use it!
    Greetz,
    Marijn
    Belgium (Flanders)

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    1. Very, very well said!!! Thank you!

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  9. The Federal Law states 1 handicap parking spot for every 25 parking spots, some wonderful stores and malls give us more. I am always very thankful. I am not easily offended by what you call me, although you may be offended by the next sentence. I realize a lot of people out there are just like you, they are just ignorant, having never lived with someone like me. I am handicapped or disabled, your choice. The word does not change my disability to move around freely. I would gladly pass my disability or handicap to you for just one week. It would give you the chance to live in constant pain and the intermittent disability to move at all, even if not freely. I would love to be able to walk across a parking lot again, without a walker or a scooter, I have both. I would love to have the energy to buy all my groceries in one visit like I used to be able to do. I am not offended by your terminology, I am greatly offended by your callousness.

    Signed - a disabled (or handicapped, if you will) veteran with Multiple Sclerosis

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  10. FYI, sometimes the handicapped parking spots are not the ones closest to the door, but the ones that are barrier free. That may be where the ramp is.

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