Real-life Experience with Van-accessible Parking Stalls

By Diane Santiago, CAPP

As a paraplegic who drives a ramp van, whether I am driving to a hospital, college, airport, or shopping area, one of my biggest anxieties is driving to a parking facility and looking for a van-accessible ADA stall–especially if I am driving alone. Many lots do not have sufficient accessible stalls in general, let alone van-accessible stalls.

The difference between a regular ADA stall and a van stall is the size of the access area. Van-accessible stalls have an 8-foot access area and regular ADA stalls have 4-foot access areas. I’ve even been in parking lots that have no access areas next to the stall (what are the parking lot managers thinking?). In case you are unaware, the access area is important to give customers with walking disabilities extra room to open the car door or, in the case of ramp vans, an area for the 5-foot ramp to deploy and then space for the person to exit the ramp in their wheelchair without running into the neighboring parked car. Without the access area, I am unable to exit or enter my van.

Keep this in mind when restriping your lot with ADA stalls. I’m sure many of you have lots with the exact amount of regular and van-accessible ADA parking stalls required by law, but keep in mind you can always go above and beyond by adding a few extra stalls or at least additional van-accessible stalls. The ADA community will really appreciate it.

Here is a U.S. Department of Justice download explaining the required number of ADA stalls, size of the stalls and access area next to the stalls.

Diane Santiago, CAPP, is manager, landside operations, at the Port of Seattle.