Looking with Paraplegic & Quadriplegic Eyes
The Worlds Wheelchair Culture

Handicapped Parking is getting to be a joke says many wheelchair users when asked... We will be posting more articles and opinions regarding handicapped parking verses wheelchair users parking. There is a difference to us users; but is there to the powers that be? Do you have something to say about this subject? Let us know.

More get disabled parking permits; Why is Detroit's disability rate so high?
Marisa Schultz / The Detroit News
December 18, 2005

TRENTON -- Charlie Sheridan doesn't have trouble driving his wheelchair-accessible van. But parking the 1998 Dodge Caravan, now that's a different story.

"The biggest problem is with handicap parking," said Sheridan, 60, of Trenton, who needs a large, van-accessible spot with room to lower his ramp. "I am having a harder time finding a place to park."

That's because more and more Michigan drivers have disability parking privileges even as businesses aren't adding more spaces. In a Detroit News survey of 83 businesses that provide public parking, 53 didn't offer a van-accessible spot, an ADA requirement.

The number of drivers with disability license plates, placards or free-parking decals jumped 17 percent from 2000 to 2004, while the state's population grew only 1.8 percent, according to the U.S. Census. Today, more than 10 percent of Michigan's 7.2 million drivers have a disability designation. The Secretary of State runs the program.

Disability advocates say the rise is largely attributable to people living longer. The number of Michigan seniors 65 or older grew 10 percent from 1990 to 2000.

Disabilities that may qualify for accessible parking include an inability to walk more than 200 feet without having to stop and rest; reliance on oxygen; and use of a wheelchair, walker, crutch or brace.

Sheridan, a retired accountant who has been paraplegic since a motorcycle accident at 15, said even when he finds a spot, people will park on the van aisle while he's in a store or restaurant. "I get blocked in, and I'm in trouble."

To get a disability parking placard or plate, a doctor's certification is required. Many debilitating conditions -- lung disease , for example - aren't clearly visible.

Why is Detroit's rate high?

More than one in four residents older than 5 and not living in an institution is disabled in Detroit, according to the U.S. Census.

Kurt Metzger, director of research at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, said the high concentration of minorities in the city could explain the rate in Detroit. He notes that African-Americans and Hispanics nationwide have higher rates of disability, compared with whites and Asians. Eighty-two percent of Detroit residents are black and the city's Hispanic population is growing.

Metzger said the rate may reflect living conditions. "Health care and primary care is lacking in the city of Detroit," he said. "We are way behind in terms of federal health centers and primary care physicians."

Detroit, with 33 percent of residents living in poverty, is also the poorest city in the nation, further affecting access to care.

In addition, nearly 30 percent of Detroit's workers are employed in the manufacturing, construction and transportation/warehousing industries. These tend to have higher rates of injuries and fatalities, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Marisa Schultz of the Detroit News

Permission to post on Paralinks granted by the Detroit News

Grinches stealing handicapped parking spots

The perennial Christmas parking frenzy caused by a crush of last-minute shoppers is putting some disabled people at further disadvantage.

That's because some able-bodied drivers are illegally scooping those premium stalls reserved exclusively for the handicapped .

City of Edmonton official Erica Gray says parking violations of this nature have increased 20 per cent in the past four years and around Christmas its particularly bad.

The abuse "becomes more prevalent over the Christmas season when people are in a little bit more of a rush," said Gray.

Larry Pempeit, a paraplegic, says the inconvenience for able-bodied drivers having to walk a few extra minutes pales compared to the logistical nightmare people like himself face.

He was paralysed in a car accident but is able to drive again using a specially outfitted Pontiac Montana with a hand-operated brake and accelerator and a power ramp that lifts his wheelchair in and out of the side door of the van.

He says he quite often comes across people parked in handicapped stalls without the permits, or cars that are squeezed in alongside the stalls, leaving no room to get out.

"I just get miffed and frustrated," he said.

"I mean, there's no reason for it because there's lot of parking spots, instead of walking 20 feet they just park right up there."

Gray says she could use twice the number of bylaw officers this time of year to combat the problem.

The fine for parking in a handicapped spot without the proper permit is $150

From  CBC - Permission to post requested.