Thursday, February 14, 2008

Civil disobedience

There is never enough disability parking at Very Big Workplace. Today was my first day to use the van lift by myself. The scooter shifted on the way there (I've learned I'm actually better at positioning it than hubby and should have), and I wanted to park close in case of mechanical failure or in case I had to walk (very high pain level right now).

Today there was no disability parking in any of three lots. I could have parked in one of two lots over, one of which has no accessible sidewalk (stairs down) and requires driving the scooter behind many parked SUVs and through bumpy terrain. Conversely, for those of you who are abled, you can't see scooters and wheelchairs when they're moving behind your vehicle. The other parking lot also has no accessible sidewalk and requires using ADA-unpassable paving. Either lot would have made me have to walk very far in case of mechanical failure.

The usual lot I use was repaved/redone this summer, but no new disability parking despite the fact that everyone knows there is inadequate disabled parking. Every other place in that parking lot was full, too. Except a Vice President's reserved space. So I parked there. There was a warning sign about tickets, but I didn't get one. I left a note on the dashboard. The space was very near the disabled parking, where I could see who was getting in cars so I (theoretically) wouldn't get run over while using the lift.

When I left, there were plenty of disability places. Another VP got in his tiny expensive car and almost mowed me down in his impatience (I was positioning myself to get the scooter on the lift). When I saw him, I apologized for parking there and said there was no disability parking in the morning, said I'd wait to load my scooter so he could leave, but he ignored me and proceeded before my friend, already loading something in the side of my van, could step aside, while I was behind part of his bumper. He got into his car quickly, but we didn't expect him to back up before Good Friend could finish her task. As far as I know, the penalty for illegal parking should be a ticket or towing, not a death sentence. We were moving aside for him as quickly as possible.

I consider my action to be an act of civil disobedience for changes that officials know they need to make. When the issue affects them, they may be inspired to make a change. Perhaps I have too much a sense of entitlement, but trying to maneuver in parking lots where I can't see drivers (you can't see if someone is in a vehicle when you're waist high) is dangerous. And I'm not the only one who can't get a disability spot and have to walk too far or ride over inaccessible terrain. There's nothing wrong with the administrators' walking ability, and if there is, they can always use a ubiquitous blue tag. Provided there's a parking place.

It's not generally a good idea, by the way, to try to run people down when your name is on your parking place.


Anonymous said...

I don't know where you live, but there is a strong chance that your HP laws are similar to mine. You are supposed to be mobility impaired, can's walk more than 200 feet without sitting down, or use a mobility assist (wc,) etc.

In my area, and I suspect the same is true for you, although all spaces are filled, rarely do you see people that qualify for those spaces. How many mobility impaired people do you see daily? How many people using crutches, walkers, wc's, etc.?

The problem is with the way placards, and HP tags are issued. Most are now issued to the aged for convienence, or for reasons that a Dr just did not want to say no. This needs to change.

I have worked very hard to get new laws inacted to fix this severe problem. I can't attend sporting events because all spaces will be taken, and I can't push my wheelchair through the maze of lots and uneven terrain. Most people using the HP spaces are using a placard that belongs to someone else, or are stolen.

The answer is not easy -- actually it is very political in nature. No state legistlature will dare take parking placards away from Grandma, and Grandpa Jones. The Gray Panthers / AARP is the strongst lobby that exists today.

I think the answer is to take the decision away from Dr's and create a process where the decision to issue a placard only comes when an extensive evaluation is done to determine need. That is the only answer.

Oh well, so much for my dreams.

FridaWrites said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FridaWrites said...

Fortunately when I got my placard, I saw that they now write an expiration date on it and the disabled person's initials. The expiration date is clearly visible from the outside of the car. This doesn't help with all the permanent blue placards that once belonged to parents and grandparents or that were stolen from people's cars.

Unfortunately, there's often not a place to sit every 200 feet when distance to regular parking exceeds that, and with the Medicare/insurance regulations, many can't get a wheelchair either. The world is so illogical.

I do have to call for understanding on both sides since I've been on both sides. I needed the close parking far more when I didn't have the scooter because just getting in and out of some places used up all my energy. And I didn't look disabled and in fact looked young and healthy, though my bones measured in worse condition than an osteoporotic 85-year-old's. But I never used it when I did not need it, never. I've also known people with severe cardiac or respiratory problems who looked very able but whose endurance and ability were very severely limited (one of them has since died).

I think you're right that there may be a lot of people who don't qualify who use it, and I'm not sure what doctors are handing them out like candy. I couldn't get one even when I was losing height in my spine from carrying my baby from the car into the grocery store or Target (he was 25 pounds, my max was 15). But I just stopped doing the shopping. These days most senior citizens are more spry than I am.

I hesitate to ever judge since I could be wrong. I was horrified when a local news station started accosting people getting into their cars for using disabled permits--some of them did admit to abusing it, but that was still a violation of others' rights to medical privacy. I'm finding it's easier to negotiate the world with my disability more visible than when it was completely invisible.

The rules do need to be flexible, too--some people may not need placards for every place they visit, but may when great distances are required. But those people should do the right thing and not use it where they do not need it.