Revised and updated from an article I posted on our blog back in May 2013
Many of us have experienced, or heard comments from customers and friends in wheelchairs of how hard it is to find a handicap parking space, or one where they can safely deploy their wheelchair ramp. In fact, I hear all the time how it always seems the spots designated for vans with ramps are always occupied by vehicles without ramps, or worst, those without permits, motorcycles or even grocery carts!!
Whatever you’ve heard or experienced, the problem is big, and most outside the disabled community don’t seem to really acknowledge. Despite the passing of The Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, we still seem to find ourselves coming up short in enforcement and the availability of accessible parking. When the act was instituted, the prescribed formula for determining the number of accessible spaces in a parking lot depended on the number of total spots. For example, a lot with up to 400 spaces must have at least eight handicapped parking spaces, but ONLY ONE has to be van accessible marked with hash marks to signify the need to keep the area clear.
Twice As Many Permits
Interesting note: there are 1.2 million active handicapped parking permits in Ohio, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. That figure represents twice as many accessible parking plates and placards compared to a decade ago.
Why is this becoming a problem? The number of spaces required by the ADA has remained the same. This influx has left drivers with various degrees of disability competing for limited real estate in local parking lots, and it’s not just Ohio.
Violators – Still a Problem
There have been parking violators as long as there have been handicapped parking spaces, despite the threat of fines. The sad truth is, handicap parking violation is considered a low-priority offense, with many Police Departments issuing less than one ticket per day on average.
Regardless of how well any one city enforces their disabled parking spaces, their enforcement agents (police, etc.) cannot be everywhere…all the time. Even in cases where a violation is called in to the authorities, most enforcement agents cannot arrive at the location in time to ticket the offender. The fact is, people with disabilities would make the best enforcers of parking violations because they experience it everywhere they go.
What’s the answer? – How can you make a difference?
There’s an App for that!
Parking Mobility (parkingmobility.com) is a new smartphone app that allows users to report parking violators. The app cues the user to take a set of photos of the vehicle in violation and it marks the date, time and location. The app then sends a report to local authorities, if the city has approved and adopted the practice of using the app. Normal citizens, through the use of the Parking Mobility application, are now empowered to help make a difference.
Let’s face it… Disabled parking is needed by 20% of the population, and cities are responsible for ensuring that these parking spots remain accessible and are not being abused. Parking Mobility is the answer, empowering its citizens and their assisting local government in addressing disabled parking abuse. After all, who is better to spot a violator than those who depend on it daily?
To learn more about the Parking Mobility app. please visit www.Parkingmobility.com.
How to Get Your City to Adopt Parking Mobility
So you want your city to adopt Parking Mobility? That’s great, but where to start? The following is a checklist to help make it easy for you. This will show you how to engage with your city to demonstrate why Parking Mobility is good for you, your city and your community:
1. You’re not alone!
You may ask yourself: how can I get my city to adopt Parking Mobility by myself? Well, the answer is power in numbers. Governments are far more responsive to an organized group than one individual. Through organizing a group of fellow citizens who are passionate about addressing disabled parking abuse, you will be more convincing to your city that: Disabled parking abuse is a real issue affecting a significant percentage of the community and Parking Mobility is the best answer to that problem by allowing the individuals who need disabled parking to report violations.
2. Leverage our partner organizations
Your first step is to let Parking Mobility know that you want to help with your city. Call them at (512) 981-9628 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will connect you with their partner organizations in your community which is also endorsing Parking Mobility, including but not limited to:
3. Emphasize the key benefits
City officials are strapped for time, and so it is important to quickly identify how the city will benefit from Parking Mobility:
• Generates significant additional revenue for your city without any cost
• Reports to cities include all violation information required of enforcement (photos, GPS coordinates, time stamp, and user info.)
• Law enforcement cannot be everywhere…all the time
• People with disabilities are best suited to report violations since they are the ones using the disabled parking
• Improves accessibility in your city and engages citizens
Inform your community – your personal network, local newspapers and radio and TV stations – that disabled parking abuse represents a real issue affecting a significant percentage of the community. Discuss how even if enforcement was a priority for the city, law enforcement cannot be everywhere…all the time. In fact, the best way to tackle disabled parking abuse is to put the reporting power in the hands of the people who need disabled parking. This is what Parking Mobility does.
5. (AGAIN) you’re not alone!
If you are running into roadblocks or need more material, always remember that Parking Mobility supports you throughout the process. They talk to cities regularly and can assist with your local community effort we can support your discussions and engagement with your city to get Parking Mobility in place.