Monday, July 15, 2013

Wheelchair Parking. Not for the feint of heart.

Maggie wanted to go to the mall on Saturday. Nothing new there. We go to the mall often, though not necessarily to buy anything. Maggie is a teenager and just loves to watch the people. Because of both the nurses schedule and the parking issue, we generally hit the mall in the morning when it's less crowded. (Note this is not optimal cool teenager time, but Maggie doesn't care). This is an outing Maggie and I can do together before the nurse gets to our house and Maggie can just hang with mom.

That is, IF we can find a parking place for the van with space to unload the wheelchair.

Believe me, I know where every single handicapped spot is in that mall. There are some in front of Macy's, downstairs in the back behind Macy's, there are a couple by the Williams Sonoma and several over by Nordstrom. In addition there are probably 5 or six in the underground parking. Of those maybe 20 spots, only 5 or so have the designated space to unload a wheelchair.  And those 5 spots are almost always taken by a vehicle that could not possibly hold a wheelchair.

There is, of course, no distinction between the wheelchair accessible spaces and the regular "blue" spaces designated for the disabled. Anyone with a placard can use any blue spot, wheelchair accessible or not.  That makes sense, there really aren't that many wheelchair vehicles cruising around. And while most wheelchair ramps come out the passenger side, some have the ramp coming out the back of the vehicle. So not even every wheelchair van needs the space on the side.

Still, it's maddening for those of us who actually DO have to unload a wheelchair out the side of the car to see a Honda Civic or some other small car in the wheelchair spot while another blue zone sits empty.

Perfectly legal. Perfectly reasonable. Absolutely maddening.

Saturday as I approached I saw one spot big enough and figured we were in business. There were three other blue spots, none of which would work for me - but I only needed one. There was one car in front of me - a sedan of some sort.

OF COURSE, OF COURSE, he took the one spot I needed. Not only that, I watched as his wife, who did not seem to have any disability at all, jumped out of the car and sprinted to Macy's. He stayed in the car and waited for her. Really? And you have to take up a wheelchair spot to do that?  I did not see any placard, and I have no idea if he or she were even entitled to use that spot, but why oh why couldn't they have taken one not meant for a wheelchair.

Now I know you are thinking, why didn't you say something? If he realized he would have happily moved ... and you may be right. But how do I know that? No one likes to be corrected by a stranger. He could be a wacko. I can't play cop or even hall monitor in addition to all my other roles. Further, as a practical matter, I would never get out of the car and leave Maggie sitting there unattended. For one thing, it's dangerous and for another, any cop who happened by would be far more interested in my neglect than in the (possibly) legal if thoughtless parking of the other guy.

So I will use this blog to start an education plan.

 If you are not disabled, don't park in disabled spots. Just don't. The ticket is enormous and the karma is even worse.

If you do have a legitimate disabled parking placard, and you are the using it correctly, please don't take the wheelchair space unless there is no other blue zone available.

There are no fines or karma to worry about here, but you would certainly make my life just a little bit easier.

 Thank you.

I would love to know the story here.....

Addendum - I've now heard from at least three wheelchair users who do not use a van, so I feel better about seeing the cars that don't seem to be wheelchair users in those spaces. But let's face it, there are an awful lot of non wheelchair users taking them and an awful lot of non-disabled using all types of handicapped spots. If you are using a placard legally and need the space -go for it, that's why it's there. If you don't need the extra space and there's another space, take it. if you are disabled and staying in the car while your wife shops, don't hog a space. If you are parking in a blue zone illegally, I have nothing but disdain for you.


  1. Someone named TOby added a comment here that I accidentally delieted. I was on my phone and my fat fingers his delete instead of publish. THen I couln't get it back.

    Her comment was she (?)(Toby could go either way) uses a wheelchair and drives a Honda Civic and that I need to be careful how I target these things.

    Fair enough.

    But for the other 99% of violators, please take note.

  2. Ok, I too drive a non-wheelchair converted minivan and park in any handicap stall I can find. I also unload a wheelchair for a non-mobile child. So, don't get to upset at us! :)

    I, too, get upset when there isn't a placard or someone sitting in the drivers seat waiting for someone. Actually, I have pulled up behind them, parked, uploaded my child (obviously with another set of adult hands), wheel the wheelchair right by them sitting there like a toad, and then go park the car in regular parking. I never say a isn't necessary, they never look up.

    love your stories!

  3. I had a really funny experience a couple of years ago. I was in my late 20s and with a friend a few years older who was driving (a regular car). We pulled into a parking space and saw someone off to one side gesturing to us and then come marching over. Until she saw my friend's "disabled driver" sign in the back of the car, the blue badge on display and he fact we both got into wheelchairs. She stopped dead and then without a word turned round and walked off.

    So yeah I definitely recommend a wait and see approach at least to start with. Oh and here all disabled spaces have space each side.

  4. julie.frickeoo7@gmail.comJuly 15, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    It sounds as though you don't get very many disabled spots. It shouldn't be that hard to find one. Maybe it's a SF thing.

  5. I am disabled but do not use a wheelchair. I had no idea that some spots are for vans to off-load wheelchairs - but I certainly will now take note as to where I park. Thanks for the education on this!


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