Please Think Before you Park

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

Please Think Before you Park

Certain situations that I encounter really take restraint. A whole lot of restraint.

As a mother of a child with disabilities, some things just get me fired up. I can overlook many little things and take life in stride. However, it requires every ounce of self-control within me to remain cool, calm, and collected when people deliberately misuse accessible parking spaces.

These designated spaces exist for a reason; when they are used legitimately, they serve a MIGHTY purpose.

They provide individuals with disabilities access to their communities.

They provide freedom to safely exit a vehicle, at a close distance to a person’s destination.

When I am forced to repeatedly circle a parking lot in search of a spot to accommodate my child and her wheelchair, AND I see cars in them without a legally required disabled tag or placard, all my decorum is lost.

When I watch someone effortlessly hop out of their vehicle to “run in really quick” at Starbucks or Walmart, while taking up a space that someone genuinely needs, my blood boils. Some disabilities are more visible and obvious; some are more hidden. Some disabilities are temporary; some are permanent. In every circumstance, ALL individuals with disabilities have a right to those spaces. Non-disabled people who merely want to avoid crossing a busy parking lot to shop or to cut out a few extra steps to grab their latte do not.

In my town, I’ve seen it happen again and again. I’ve always known it to be an unlawful act, but I never realized the self-centeredness of it until it was my own child who needed the accommodation. I was blissfully unaware of how selfish our society can truly be.

I can really feel my blood pressure rise when people park directly in the blue stripes that accompany an accessible parking space. These lines are called “access aisles” and every precious inch of them is valuable to someone who needs them.

Access aisles are NOT meant for motorcycles to use.

They are NOT an area to conveniently abandon a shopping cart.

These painted stripes are designated for wheelchair accessible vehicles, and they provide space for an individual to transfer from their vehicle to their mobility device. They also give room for wheelchair users, like my daughter, to access their wheelchair ramp and safely exit. I sincerely hope that the majority of those who misuse this space are simply uninformed, and that they would never be so purposefully careless. Sadly, I’ve had people look me straight in the eye as they intentionally parked over into the lines, while I struggled to carefully lift and manoeuvre my child guardedly to the ground.

I have stickers plastered on my van that read “Please do not park within 8 feet.” Sometimes, I feel like they need to be posted in big, flashing neon lights. I have her placard that I hang on my rearview mirror every time we park. I would NEVER use it when she’s not with me. I don’t have the right to do that.

I wish people would understand how tricky and complicated things can become for individuals with disabilities, (and for their caregivers), when they misuse these spots. We must continue to educate and enforce; we hope that citizens take heed. It’s so very simple…Please think of others before you park.


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