Monday, April 2, 2012

Is the entire purpose of accessible parking being forgotten?

When it comes to accessible parking since day one of their inception it has been a common practice to locate them close to the entrance of a building. We all know that the sole purpose of accessible parking is to allow wheel chair users and those with walking disabilities close access to the main entrance. This is done to reduce the difficulty and time it takes for us to make our way to the entrance of a certain building. So it might come as a surprise that lately I have been running into a bit of a problem with the location of more than a few accessible parking spaces in my community.

The most recent experience occurred during a visit to my local community centre where I had to walk quite a far distance from accessible parking to their main entrance. It seems as if the person in charge of deciding where to put accessible parking was only focussed on the needs of one group of people who use these spaces. It’s more than disappointing to find that even today some people have such a narrow view of people living with disabilities. Sadly, I deal with this on a daily basis when it comes to the harassment I receive for not fitting people’s stereotypical view of someone with a disability. I am sure we can all agree when it comes to accessible parking that the needs of wheel chair users and others with limited mobility needs to be taken into consideration. Like I have said before in earlier posts physical limitations come in many shapes and forms and can even affect those who still have the ability to walk. And the last thing any of us want to do is park in accessible parking spaces that are located so far from a building entrance than it defeats their entire purpose. Sure the design and placement might look good in an architect’s eyes but it’s not at all user friendly.

It is very obvious that even today some people still don’t understand the difficulty that this is creating for those of us with disabilities especially when it comes to adverse weather conditions. Over the years I have had to learn the hard way that some people simply don’t maintain their walkways or parking lots properly. If you have ever faced the same issues as me you know all too well how an icy or snow covered ramp or walkway can act as a barrier. Then there’s the issue’s we can face on rainy days I think it’s pretty easy for people to understand that the last thing we want to be is stuck out in the rain getting soaking wet. I’m sure more than a few of us could share stories of a time or two when we have had to deal with the rain. These are the times when all we want to do is get to the entrance of a building as quickly as possible. It seems like some designers may have forgotten about the true needs of those of us who use accessible parking. I truly hope that the issue I am addressing today isn’t wide spread. I also like to believe that the majority of people out there do understand that when it comes to accessible parking that the closer you put these spots to the entrance of a building the better it is for those of us living with limited mobility. That’s why every architect and parking lot designers must never forget the true purpose of accessible parking spaces and that’s to give us a convenient and safe place to park, providing us with easy access to the entrances of every building in each one of our communities.

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  1. I hear you, Brad. I think another issue is that there's sometimes not enough space around the spaces to deploy a van ramp. Sometimes the "non-van" parking spaces are just too close, especially if someone is parking on the hashmarks!

  2. Yes, sometimes when someone parks in a handicap spot, I wait to see them get out. Handicap placards are definitely over prescribed by people who have no idea what it really is like!