The Handicapped

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The Handicapped

Interesting that I should write this after the last entry, however I’m not handicapped, at least not yet, but I do have empathy for those who have physical impairments. I note that a number of the entries in the articles I search for ideas for this blog are from handicapped, and I have received a number of emails from handicapped persons asking me about the laws in their particular city or state.

A few years ago I did an article in PT about the issues in Florida where an aging population was asking doctors for handicapped permits, even though they didn’t really need them — the doctor’s were complying. The reason — if you have a handicapped permit in Florida the parking is free. Yep — on street, off street, at the airport, public or private.

What this means is that the handicapped spaces are taken by those that don’t need them, and the truly handicapped are locked out.

When I discussed this with a disabled person’s organization in state of retirement and Mickey Mouse, I found that by and in the large handicapped people don’t want special free parking, they simply want access.

If you require a wheel chair or crutches, or can only walk a short distance, your ability to get to work, or anywhere else, is restricted. Extra wide close in handicapped spaces give the handicapped access to their jobs, stores, concerts, and a way of life. I was told that they didn’t want FREE parking, only access and were willing to pay for the parking just as everyone else does, particularly since it gives them access to their ability to earn a living.

Wow, that changed my attitude about handicapped completely. These folks want to pay their way, they just want to be able to get to work so they can.

That seems fair to me. And, if the parking costs the same for handicapped and non handicapped, the market in bogus permits is much smaller. Why take a risk for a $100 or $200 fine if you have to pay for the space? 

Remember the scandal at UCLA a few years ago when athletes were trafficking in handicapped permits, since they were free and "close in". Boy were they embarrassed when they were found out and thrown off the team.

We are a compassionate people, but when we take it too far, we can do more harm than good,

Handicapped people have a more difficult life than the rest of us. However my experience has been that they simply want the playing field to be level, not tilted in their direction.

In our haste to be kind and fair, maybe we have caused a bigger problem than we solved.

Comments from the handicapped community?

JVH

Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. John,
    The handicap parking “rules” in Florida changed several years ago – around 1995 if I remember correctly. Free handicapped parking is still allowed at on street meters but that is about it. Most airports (MIA is the exception at major airports) now charge the full posted rate for handicapped parking. The state attorney general, with input from the handicapped community, changed the ruling allowing for parking operators, municipalities, airports, etc to charge the posted rates unless the parker has a “specially equipped vehicle” meaning wheel chair ramps, lifts, hand controls, etc. or unless the vehicle has a Florida Turnpike “toll exempt sticker” which is issued to persons with upper body mobility limitations making it difficult for them to use ticket dispensers and turnpike pay systems.
    Needless the say this ruling resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased revenue and much faster throughput for all transactions as the long exception ticket process was eliminated. When I ran airport parking ops in Florida prior to the change abuse of the free system was rampant. Parkers would store their vehicles for weeks, even when not flying, or loan their hang tag permits to friends or family. A huge win for the industry.

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