Have you noticed that there are handicapped parking spots in most parking lots? They have a sign posted. Sometimes there is also the universal handicapped emblem painted on the ground.
Have you also noticed the stripped areas that are next to some of these handicapped parking spots? These create easier access for wheelchair-accessible vans that have lifts or ramps.
Usually, these parking spots are located fairly close to the entrance of the building. And are reserved for those who have special parking permits. People should not park in these spaces without the required permit. And should be respectful of the stripped zones.
There is a wide variety of handicapped parking signs. I had my mom take photos of some we see in our area. I will post a sampling of these signs here.
There are also different types of stripped zones. They vary in width, with the wider ones being more accommodating for accessible vans. My mom forgot to take photos for me to post. But I will add them here once she takes them.
Imagine finishing up a long outing at the mall. You and your friends have shopped in several of the stores, bought some fun new things, and had a yummy snack just before you were ready to head home.
You leave the mall and go to where your car is parked. As you get closer, you see that there is a problem. The cars parked on either side of your car are so close that you can’t even get to your door, let alone open it.
Well, this is similar to what sometimes happens when my mom and I return to our van after shopping or come out from an appointment. As you know, my mom uses a power wheelchair. We have a specially adapted van with a ramp that folds out so she can easily get in and out.
The ramp needs space as it opens. If there was a car too close to the van the ramp would hit the car as it was opening. In addition to there needing to be room for the ramp to open there also needs to be room for my mom to maneuver her chair to get on or off the ramp.
As I mentioned above, there are striped zones next to some of the handicapped parking spots. Those are there so that a wheelchair van has room to deploy the ramp. And the wheelchair user has room to maneuver onto the ramp. Whenever available, this is where we park.
Those stripes mean “do not park” in this area. But some people don’t seem to know or care that they could be interfering with the ability of a wheelchair user to get to their van. We often see cars, motorcycles, or shopping carts parked in those striped zones.
My mom doesn’t drive our van. But some wheelchair users do drive. If my mom and I get to our van, and something is blocking that striped zone, the driver with us can back our van up.
By doing this there is enough room for the ramp to deploy so we can get in the van. But this isn’t possible if the driver of the van is a wheelchair user.
When they get to their van and someone is blocking that space, what will they do? They might have to wait for the driver of the other vehicle to show up. Or go back into the store and try to have the person paged by using the description of the vehicle. If carts are blocking the area, they would need to find someone to move them out of the way.
Think about the frustration and inconvenience this could cause. You are ready to go home and here you are waiting because someone wasn’t respectful of those stripes.
So when you are out and about, look around at the handicapped parking areas. Think about what you see. Are there cars without the required parking permits? Are the stripped zones clear of obstructions?
Be mindful of your surroundings. And try to educate those around you whenever the opportunity arises. Because you know how important educating others is to me and my mom!