Parking Study – Issues for Disabled Drivers

July 25, 2010 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

Issues:

  1. The current number of dedicated spaces for handicapped drivers is woefully inadequate. Currently there are 55 designated handicapped spaces in the Old Town area vs. 8,000 total spaces. Only 18 designated spaces are in the metered area out of 4,000 spaces. Using the rule of thumb of 2% handicapped for each regular space, the City should provide 80 metered spaces for the disabled and a total of 160 total designated spaces in the study area. Handicapped parking should have the same proportion of metered parking, garage parking and residential parking as exist in the total pool of parking spaces. Since we are following Arlington down the “All May Park, All Must Pay” path, it should be noted that in Arlington, 4% of metered spaces were designated handicapped.
  2. Designated spaces are not currently located conveniently to high volume commercial areas. Dedicated spaces should be fairly dispersed throughout the Old Town district.
  3. Many of the current spaces are not fully accessible for wheelchair users and others requiring a ramp to the sidewalk. Improving the complete accessibility of spaces should be a goal of this new parking management plan.
  4. A disabled driver/rider needs more time to park, get to their destination, and complete their business than a typical driver. Loss of the ability to park for a longer period of time and close to one’s destination is a serious impediment to the disabled to doing business in Old Town. Conveniently located spaces will reduce the time needed.
  5. “All may park, all must pay” appears fair on its face, but it is not. The disabled, as a group, have a low median income, so the levy of parking fees has a disproportionately heavy burden on them. Some disabled people have physical difficulties that prevent handling coins with ease. The coupling of “All may park, all must pay” with the increase in METRO Access and DOT fees feels like a de facto “disability transportation tax.” Taking away one of the few benefits of being disabled appears mean-spirited to those who suffer from serious problems that impede normal life.
  6. Kiosk meters create substantial issues for the disabled. Walking back and forth between the car and the kiosk is especially physically burdensome for an individual with difficulty walking.
  7. Alternative types of transportation may not be an option for disabled drivers.
  8. If the handicapped placards are being abused (an assumption made with no evidence – see Budget Memo # 87, April 8, 2009) perhaps the issue is better enforcement rather than placing a burden on legitimate users.
  9. The costs to fairly implement “All may park, all must pay” – new handicapped spaces and meters – may offset any additional revenue.

Statement: The parking study focuses on the best ways, given current resources, to manage parking in the Old Town area. Parking spaces set aside for disabled drivers/riders are not the most efficient way to manage parking in the Old Town area, but providing sufficient spaces for the disabled is required by law and is a just use of resources. To some extent providing a sufficient number of designated handicapped spaces may address the second stated goal of reducing auto use in Old Town.

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