Handicap Parking Etiquette 101
Handicap parking spaces are designed to provide the disabled with the utmost convenience. They're made to be wide so that disabled folks--especially those on wheelchairs and other mobility aids--can alight and board from their cars with ease. They're also strategically placed near mall entrances, so you can imagine the temptation for anyone to park there, whether it was for them to just run in and out of the store or wait for someone they're fetching.
Any disabled person or driver with a debilitated family member who has experienced being blocked from their designated parking space by an inconsiderate (re: vile) individual knows how frustrating it can be to see people without a handicap or those who 'appear' disabled to use the accessible parking spot. Things would be easier if we have laws in place to settle such predicaments, like for instance, it would be immensely helpful if we had government-issued stickers or badges for the vehicles of those with a disability.
Unfortunately, local decrees concerning these parking spaces are outdated and in dire need of update. And so more often than not, we are left to our own devices to decide which vehicles are allowed, and which are not, and altercations are usually the result. For instance, one common point of contention is that should disabled motorcycle drivers be able to park their bikes in handicap zones? There's really no specific answer on the matter.
That said, a little consideration goes a long way. Because of the lack of any clear-cut rules and regulations, and to give our less fortunate brethren the access and convenience they deserve, be sure to practice proper decorum around parking spaces marked with the International Symbol of Access.
1. Don’t park in a spot reserved for disabled people unless you are a handicapped person driving a car or have a handicapped passenger in a car. Current laws on the matter, though obsolete, still clearly state that:
- "It is UNLAWFUL for any person to park or stand any vehicle in any stall or space designated or reserved for physically disabled persons."
- "Any vehicle operator who is not physically disabled shall not use the handicapped parking space unless there is a physically disabled person in the vehicle, or while the vehicle is being used to transport a physically disabled person."
2. Don't use "I'll only be just a minute," as an excuse to park in handicap parking spaces.
3. If you are a motorcycle driver with a disability, it may be a tough pill to swallow, but that parking spot is not designed for you. The spaces are clearly marked for four-wheeled vehicles, specifically those with passengers that require a wheelchair to move around. Plus, the fact that you can ride a bike on your own means that you are independent and have adequate control of your legs. Give that parking spot up for those with wheelchairs and need assistance.
4. It goes without saying that you cannot park your motorcycle in the access lanes--the diagonally-striped rectangle on the sides of the handicap parking space. These areas have been demarcated to provide those with wheelchairs and/or mobility devices a way to get in and out of the vehicle. And if you park your bike on them, they'll have to wait for you to get back and take your motorcycle out before they can go about their business.
(EDITOR's NOTE: And let's not even talk about the cars that park in the access lanes and justify it by saying that the handicap parking space is unoccupied so they're not bothering anyone.)
Stay safe, stay kind, and as Bill and Ted used to say, be excellent to each other.