What's up with handicapped parking everywhere?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/02/28 14:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2006/02/28/540714.aspx


It is hard to believe it was a year ago today that I asked What's up with handicapped parking in WA state?

(One misunderstanding I want to clear up about that post -- my hope that those folks parking in the spaces being contractors was not due to any bias against contractors; it was my hope that people who park like jerks won't be here long. Lots of contract resources at Micrsoft are actually quite awesome and I am very hopeful it was a very small minority of them who are insensitive jerks!)

Anyway, today I was reminded about this post when I was pointed to the following article: Citizen crusader against scofflaws.

She is definitely a couple of levels above me in that she is actually doing more about the problem than just pointing it out -- she is getting these people ticketed.

The interesting part of the article for me:

For her efforts, she's been cursed and spat upon. Rowan University banned her from the campus. The public schools have forbidden her to step foot on their property during school hours.

Let me get this straight -- a university which has the responsibility to provide these spaces for people who have a medical need for them and which is clearly having trouble keeping up with the folks flouting the law is addressing the problem by banning from campus the person doing their job?

Hmmm.... you won't ever see me at Rowan University.

And school systems can't handle getting people to legally park?

I used to end up going to pick up my ex-fiance's daughter at school, and I have to tell you there is no way I could have managed it without that handicapped space. If someone were illegally parked there they'd be lucky if I just left them a note -- if I were in a bad mood I'd have called the cops, and if I were in a worse mood I'd just key their freaking car (luckily no one was ever parked there illegally!).

Anyway, do me a favor -- don't park in a handicapped space if you do not have the state-provided credentials.

And if you can't do that and feel the need to be dishonest here, then show the people, or the person, trying to keep you honest the appropriate amount of respect.

Or, in short, if you are being a jerk you should cut it out.

Mary Ann Cotrell is fighting the good fight.


# John Wayne on 28 Feb 2006 3:08 PM:

"I used to end up going to pick up my ex-fiance's daughter at school, and I have to tell you there is no way I could have managed it without that handicapped space. If someone were illegally parked there they'd be lucky if I just left them a note -- if I were in a bad mood I'd have called the cops, and if I were in a worse mood I'd just key their freaking car (luckily no one was ever parked there illegally!). "

Sorry to here about your handicap - however when there are no other parking spots then nobody can manage without that handcaped space.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 28 Feb 2006 3:17 PM:

Not sure I understand what you mean, John. Do you mean that if there are no other spots that people should be allowed to park there even without a pass?

# Raymond Chen - MSFT on 28 Feb 2006 3:21 PM:

Apparently, many people believe that "If I can't do something legally, I should be allowed to do it illegally."

# Jimbo on 28 Feb 2006 3:23 PM:

The only thing that bothers me more than seeing non-handicapped-tagged cars parked in handicapped spaces is seeing the opposite.  In an absolutely packed parking lot I watched as the car in front of me (with handicapped tags) pulled just past the handicapped space and into the last remaining non-handicapped space.  Inconsideration knows no bounds.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 28 Feb 2006 3:33 PM:

Hi Jimbo -- not sure how I feel about that one, exactly. I'll think about it for a bit....

# Nish on 28 Feb 2006 4:17 PM:

>> In an absolutely packed parking lot I watched as the car in front of me (with handicapped tags) pulled just past the handicapped space and into the last remaining non-handicapped space.  Inconsideration knows no bounds. <<

Perhaps, the driver was not for who the pass was issued for, and it may have been for his/her spouse. So, though the car had a pass, because the pass-owner wasn't present, he/she had to park somewhere else. Thought of that possibility, Jimbo?

# Paul on 28 Feb 2006 4:26 PM:

Theres been quite a lot of press here in Australia to do with this, in Sydney CBD and outskirts you have to pay for virtually all street parking, and there are often time limits imposed on how long you can be there. Unless you have a disabled parking permit. Turns out these are actually really easy to get, disability or not so lots of able bodied people just get one and park there all day free of charge. Some of the press has been there watching people park in a disabled spot, then dash to the cafe across the road, then hop into their office.

# Chuck Somerville on 28 Feb 2006 5:18 PM:

Jimbo might have seen someone who was not handicapped driving the car with the tags - and not wanting to "cheat".

I have a (removable) plackard, which is registered to my wheelchair-bound Mother-in-law, for when I take her to church, the doctor, etc.  I (unlike some I've seen) do *not* use the plackard when I can't find parking near the front. (Of course, in my case, the plackard is not hung on the mirror at that time, but if Jimbo's driver was, say, the handicapped person's brother or something, they might not have been inclined to cheat.)

Just a thought.

# Dale on 28 Feb 2006 7:49 PM:

When we lived in Westport CT they gave a polaroid camera with the permit. The driver could take a photo of the offending car and as the camera printed the time and date the police would use this to issue a ticket.

# Mihai on 1 Mar 2006 2:07 AM:

I also think she is "a little too confrontational."
It is all legal, no doubt. And I think is fair game for someone whith the right and the need for that space to complain officially (I like the "polaroid camera with the permit") idea.
But somehow I dislike the idea of someone going arround hunting (unless is the police, and then is their job).

I have never parked in a handicapped space (and I don't plan to), but I did other things. Speeding, for instance. And I don't get mad if I get fined. It is part of "the game", I know the rules, and if I get caught, I know the price.

We all "break the law" once in a while. Small stuff, like not mowing the lawn often enough. Would you like to have neibourghs calling the citi and having you fined? I got a warning for that while being out of the country for a month.
Up to a level is ok, beyond that gets to close to intolerance, vengeance, vigilantism, etc. Did she pass that level? I don't know, I cannot say.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 1 Mar 2006 2:45 AM:

Hi Mihai,

Note that she is not confronting anybody -- she just turns in the pictures. She is just working within the law....

# Gabe on 1 Mar 2006 3:42 AM:

The neighborhood where I live is a bunch of fairly old apartment buildings and businesses, with very little available parking. In order to park in a non-metered city lot you must get a permit, and the waiting list for permits can last from months to years. Since the buildings are all old, none are even close to ADA-comliant, yet a certain percentage of parking spaces must be designated as handicapped.

The only accessible building (grade-level entrance, elevators) has its own on-site parking, and the businesses have metered parking, so the only people who could possibly park in the spots must have been living in a nearby non-accessible building long enough to get a permit *and* must be disabled.

I can only imagine that this would be useful in the case where somebody were temporarily disabled (broken leg?), but even then the handicapped space(s) in their lot may be on the opposite side from the building they live in. This means that even in the unlikely case that somebody has both a permit for the lot and a handicapped placard, there's a good chance that they wouldn't even want to use the spot allocated for them.

Of course the only people I see parked in these spots are those who have a handicapped placard and assume they can park there regardless of whether they have a permit. I think I'll start taking photos of these scofflaws and turning them in to the police so they can get the offending cars towed (the permit lots are tow-away zones).

# Jimbo on 1 Mar 2006 1:57 PM:

For clarification, the woman driving the van left the vehicle and got into a wheelchair.  So, I'm assuming she was indeed handicapped.  I think that Mihai makes a good point about the way we deal with 'the game' we play with various automobile violation laws.  In this case it seems that this woman felt that the game was unbalanced in favor of those who would park illegally and sought to even the score for those who really need those spaces.  That doesn't seem wrong to me.

# Yaytay on 2 Mar 2006 10:48 PM:

Recommendation for those upset about handicapped people parking outside of designated parking spaces: take a bus.
The reason there aren't enough parking spaces is because too many people drive.

<Steps down off high horse....>

# incrediculous on 5 Mar 2006 11:24 AM:

Can handicapped people park in non-handicapped spaces?  Of course!  I'm not sure why anyone here would even attempt to argue otherwise.

This is not some statute designed to allocate scarce resources between two competitive groups of stakeholders.  To be outraged that a handicapped person would have the nerve to take YOUR non-handicapped space!  Good god!  What has the world come to?

Handicapped spots are society's attempt to make life more livable for the many who require small accessibility concessions.  We accommodate those with handicaps, because we would certainly hope to be accommodated if we were in their shoes/wheels.

# Mano on 7 May 2006 12:28 PM:

amazing how many 'cripples" popped up once this handicapped crap started. Most are just lazy pigs who get their doctor to claim they are cripples so they can get a tag.

Screw em, I will continue to park where I want. Anyone want to play big brother and take pics of my car, go ahead.. I have a lawyer to deal with idiots like that.

Key my car? Go ahead, thats what the cameras are for.. to bust YOU.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 7 May 2006 12:50 PM:

Well, Mano, I'd say live long and prosper but with that kind of view of the world I doubt you'll really attract all that much propsperity.

I don't know anyone who asks for any sort of handicap. If I could be cured tomorrow and the only hit would be that I would be required to park a mile away from the door from here on out, then I'd be signed up before they had a chance to finish the explanations....

Though thanks for reminding me that we wtill have a ways to go. :-(

May you never end up with some affliction that causes you to understand how wrong you are the hard way; I hope you come to the realization without having to suffer that way.

# venny on 11 May 2006 11:57 AM:

What about a apartment building parking lot that is for residents only.  I know we can't stop a handicapped person from parking in a handicapped spot but if there are no handicapped spot are you legally allowed to make the park somewhere else.  I believe that is they  have the handicapped plates or decal they should be able to park anywhere in the lot because otherwise they have to park on the street and walk a long ways.

referenced by

2007/12/02 A whole heap o' handicapped parking issues I've been saving up

2006/03/13 Progress on the handicapped parking issue

2006/03/05 That handicapped placard

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