Friday, 19 July 2013

Wheelchair Parking

It's getting more and more difficult to find a parking spot. You would think that having a wheelchair would make it easier what with all those wheelchair parking spots at the mall and such. You would be wrong with that thinking. It seems there are more and more of those wheelchair tags to go with those spots. So more often than not getting a wheelchair parking spot in any parking lot is becoming a real challenge.

Take my recent stop at Granville Island as an example. Granville Island is a popular spot but there always seems to be a place to park, at least if you don't have to get a wheelchair in and out of a truck. I drove on to Granville Island filled with the hopes that go with having a handicapped tag. I drove to the west end of the island, near Bridges, into the parking lot next to the market. I made a circuit of the lot only to find every handicapped spot was filled.

It's not like there weren't parking spots; there were several empty spots. They were all standard slots, so skinny that any hope of getting a wheelchair out of a truck was blown in the wind like the gull feathers drifting by my window. These parking spots were made for slender cars with even slenderer people. My truck is not slender and my wheelchair lift requires a complete opening of the rear door on my truck. There were lots of these spots; just no handicapped spots.

I circled the parking lot for a bit and then parked in a regular spot. There I waited, and waited, scanning the few handicapped spots, hoping for eventual availability. After about a 15 minute wait, one of these spots opened up and in I went. Fortunately these spots are wide enough for me to get in and out, and the time for these spots is 3 hours instead of the usual one hour limit. This is intended, I suspect, to allow for the reality of wheelchair bound patrons, where almost everything takes longer and is more complex. The problem, of course, is that the longer timeline means people park in them longer, in many cases out of necessity but in others simply out of availability and convenience.

There seem to be a lot more of those blue tags out there these days, too. I don't doubt that they are needed. A combination of an aging population and increased rates of obesity mean there are plenty of people with mobility challenges. The person leaving the spot into which I rapidly flew walked up with a cane, struggling to carry his packages and coffee. He clearly was handicapped. On the other hand I regularly see folks with no handicap whatsoever get out of their cars with their blue tag hung on the mirror, parked in one of those few spots. I wonder how they got their tag?

Do we need more handicapped parking spots? I suspect the able bodied population might say "no". As for me, I have more than once been put in the position of going home for lack of parking. It's just another reality of my life.


  1. I think it is unfair to assume that a non-visible handicap means there is no handicap and the person is wrongly using the handicap blue tag. A severe heart condition might limit mobility or how far the person could walk and yet would not be something you would clearly see when casually observing them.

  2. Rick I find the same thing but agree with Bobbi regarding heart ailments. I had that issue as well yet it did not show.

  3. I mis-used my handicap sticker yesterday in the rain - I have the sticker for my husband and even though there were 2 other spots, I felt guilty about doing it while WALKING in - I won't ever take advantage of this again! Richard, you are an amazing man and have every right to feel the way you do. Please try and not get so down that suicide is on your mind - I enjoy your writing and want it to continue. You are in my daily thoughts!

  4. Thank you Debbie. It's been a rough couple of weeks but I am sure things will improve. Suicide is a common thought for people with ALS. It's just the way it is.

    1. Man - it sounded rough!! I was catching up with you this morning and kept hoping there was another entry from you! I'm sorry about your Boat - I cried when John couldn't lift his leg up to get on his bicyle - that was something he enjoyed so much and was something we would do together. Again, I feel lucky that John has the Dementia with his ALS -It breaks my heart to think of you wanting to end your life and I am glad he doesn't have those thoughts -or I guess I should say I am glad he doesn't voice those thoughts to me. I wish you much peace.

  5. Some people have elderly grand/parents that warrant the possession (and abuse, in the absence of said grand/parents) of a handicap blue tag.