Friday, November 26, 2010

Dear Illegal Parker

Dear Illegal Parker,

On Thanksgiving, I visited my mother on the other side of town to be with family. There were no open accessible parking spots so I had to park at the rear of the lot in two open non accessible spots.

I could only do this because there were people inside to ask to move my van later if someone parked next to me. However, if I was alone I would have had to leave.

It was raining pretty hard. As I exited the van the zipper on the side pouch on my wheelchair somehow opened. Some of my id cards and other important papers fell out. People were waiting for me in the lobby so if I'd been parked in an accessible spot they would have seen me and come out to help. Cell phones don't work inside the place I was going to so that wasn't an option. I didn't want to leave important papers laying around in the wind and rain to blow away while I went to get help.

So I went back into the van, got a quad reacher and lifted the papers off the wet ground. Meanwhile I had to find my ziploc bag to put over the joystick on my power chair to keep it from getting wet. It took me a long time to get everything gathered up. I got pretty wet since it was raining hard.

Once I was finished I started toward the entrance. Someone pulling out of a spot didn't see me and almost hit me. Fortunately, I was able to dodge the car and get out of the driver's way in time.

As I passed the half a dozen handicap spots, I noticed that your car didn't even have a placard or plate. I wondered why even on Thanksgiving at a senior housing complex, someone would illegally park in an accessible spot. I suppose you didn't think someone in a wheelchair might really need that spot.

I hope you'll think twice about using accessible spots illegally again, not just because it's illegal, but because your choice to do so creates safety consequences for others. The accessible spots are up front for a reason. Wheelchairs are hard to see in a parking lot, especially in the rain, and because I was parked near the rear, I might have been hit by someone pulling out of a spot.

Not that knowing any of this ahead of time would have stopped me from going out, but it sure would have made my day easier if you hadn't parked illegally. I wouldn't have had to sit in wet clothes all day for one thing. I don't know if you were ticketed after I reported it but if you were, I hope it's a deterrent. Your car was gone when I came out, but that did me no good. I had to trek through the rain to the rear of the lot again only to discover there was no lighting back there. It was difficult to see how to place my wheelchair to get on the ramp of the van which was pretty unsafe.

Although there's no way I can explain in one letter all the reasons why accessible parking is not a luxury for people with disabilities, I hope this letter will make you think twice next time before you park illegally "for just a minute" or for convenience sake.

Yours truly,



Mark Lewis said...

This drives me nuts! I wish there was a better system or at least a better mechanism to control/enforce it.

Ruth said...

I agree with you. It's clear that it's needed.