Tag Archives: accessible parking

Inconsiderate Defined

car parked on handicap space hashmarksBy Michelle W. Jones, CAE, CMP

Merriam-Webster provides a definition of “inconsiderate” as “heedless, thoughtless,” and “careless of the rights or feelings of others.”

On Sunday, my 22-year-old niece posted this photo with a poignant message on Facebook:

“Just because it is Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t mean it gives you the right to park on the lines in between handicap spaces. Those lines are for people who have medical equipment, so they can the room to get in and out of their cars. Not to mention that this car doesn’t have a handicap placard/license plate. Please be considerate of people with disabilities.”

She knows this well because she has Arthrogryposis and uses a motorized wheelchair herself. I was so proud of her for sharing her observation and for being concise and accurate, without being (justifiably) nasty.

I couldn’t help but think of the work the Accessible Parking Coalition (APC) is doing, and I shared the website with her. It is a powerful statement that, “Assuring independence is everyone’s fight.” If only everyone could and would read and heed the message that, “…using an accessible parking spot ‘for just five minutes’ or blocking the designated, cross-hatched loading zone for wheelchair accessible parking spots, can deny a person with disabilities the ability to shop,” as the violator in the photo has done.
We all should be vigilant and become citizen activists.

Michelle W. Jones, CAE, CMP, is IPMI’s director of convention and meeting services.

*Photo provided by Ciana Dassonville

Accessible Parking and DOT Grant Money

By Helen Sullivan, APR, Fellow PRSA

If you want to help make accessible parking more accessible, the U.S. Department of Transportation may have money available to support your efforts, but hurry because the funding opportunity closes January 6, 2020.

At the DOT Access and Mobility for All Summit a few weeks ago, a few announcements by Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao were relevant to parking and mobility professionals.

I was invited to attend the event as a representative of the IPMI-led Accessible Parking Coalition. This invitation-only event was attended by several hundred, but I was also invited to participate in a special pre-Summit session of only 50 attendees who were asked to help DOT refine their definition of Complete Trips–which did not include parking, curbside management, etc.–so good to have a seat at that table!

Check out this YouTube video featuring what David Capozzi, executive director, U.S. Access Board, said about the Accessible Parking Coalition while on one of the general session panels.

Boasting aside, some of the DOT grant money that may be available to IPMI members dovetails perfectly with the APC Local Pilot Program we are launching in 2020. The premise of our APC program is for the APC to serve as a model, catalyst, and partner, encouraging IPMI members to form local coalitions of stakeholders to work on solutions related to eliminating disabled placard/plate abuse and other parking issues for people with disabilities. These local coalitions would be affiliates of the APC, earning the right to use a customized variation of the APC logo and to work with APC Founding Members to provide connections to local advocacy groups for people with disabilities, local DMVs, etc.

Learn more about the Federal Transit Administration’s 2020 Mobility for All Pilot Program, which their website describes as a program that “seeks to improve mobility options and access to community services for older adults, individuals with disabilities, and people with low incomes.  The $3.5 million initiative will fund projects that enhance transportation connections to jobs, education, and health services.” This FTA funding opportunity closes January 6, 2020. A two-hour webinar with more information about this funding opportunity occurred last week, but you can access an archived recording here.

Sounds to me as though the APC Local Pilot Program fits in quite nicely with the mission of the FTA’s Mobility for All Pilot Program, right?

For inspiration and potentially FTA-fundable program ideas, download and read APC’s 24-page Let’s Make Accessible Parking More Accessible: A Practical Guide to Addressing Disabled Placard Abuse and Other Issues for People with Disabilities.

Helen Sullivan, APR, Fellow PRSA, is director of IPMI’s Accessible Parking Coalition.

Accessible Parking Controversy Raises Questions

accessible parking sign on streetThe Barcelona at Beaverton apartment complex in Beaverton, Ore., offers residents a private parking lot behind the building. Several residents with disabilities recently approached the city asking for on-street spaces to be flagged as accessible and reserved for them by apartment number instead, saying the back lot is too far from their apartments, especially in inclement weather.  And that’s created some controversy: City officials say reserving spaces on the street amounts to privatizing public spots, while disabled residents say the property’s parking lot spaces aren’t really accessible.

The complex includes eight apartments designed for people with disabilities. Four such residents currently live there. They say the curb spaces are just 10 feet from the back door, but they have to travel 300 feet to get to the parking lot’s spots, and some say they then can’t protect their heavy, motorized chairs from the elements. And with a new complex being built across the street, they say they fear not being able to park in what spaces exist near the door.

Read the whole story here. For more information on accessible parking, download “Let’s Make Accessible Parking More Accessible: A Practical Guide to Addressing Disabled Placard Abuse and Other Parking Issues for People with Disabilities,” from the Accessible Parking Coalition.

Making Accessible Parking More Accessible

By Helen Sullivan, APR, Fellow PRSA

“I am a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Parking is the biggest obstacle in my life.”
READ AND RE-READ THIS QUOTE from the 2018 Accessible Parking Coalition (APC) National Survey and take in the full meaning of what this survey respondent shared with us. A quadriplegic is someone without the use of all four limbs. And the biggest obstacle in this person’s life is parking.

I hope this realization inspires you to tap into the resources of the IPMI-led Ac­cessible Parking Coalition and develop a proactive plan to make accessible parking more accessible in your city, university, hospital, airport, corporate offices, shop­ping center, or stadium.
If you’re a consultant, are you counsel­ing your clients to be mindful of access for all when planning a project? If you’re an equipment manufacturer, you may be surprised to learn that many meters are impossible to use for those with manual dexterity issues and the screen of many meters is angled such that even if pay­ment can be made, a person in a wheel­chair cannot view it.

There are so many challenges, and not everything that can be done is un­der your direct control, but there are many actions you can take to make a positive difference.

Getting Started
IPMI and its APC are making it easy for you get started. APC has just published a 24-page publication, “Let’s Make Acces­sible Parking More Accessible: A Practical Guide to Addressing Disabled Placard Abuse and Other Parking Issues for Peo­ple with Disabilities.”
There is something of value in this new publication for parking lot and facilities designers, planners, managers, and operators. There are sections that will be illuminat­ing for parking meter, pay station, and access control equipment manufacturers, as well as for those in parking enforcement, policy-­making, community relations, and marketing.

Two of my favorite sections of this publication are where we share comments from people with disabil­ities—eye-opening!—and the sec­tion that summarizes a dozen action items you can take to make accessible parking more accessible. The publication has tons of real-world examples of what others in our industry are doing that works.

A strength of this new publication that should give you confidence in its ideas is the impressive list of reviewers: a stellar group of IPMI members on IPMI’s APC Advisory Council as well as the executive directors of the U.S. Access Board, the National Council of Independent Living, and Veterans of America, and, of course, APC spokesperson and citizen activist Chris Hinds, now a city council member in Denver, Colo., among others.

Download “Let’s Make Accessible Parking More Accessible: A Practical Guide to Addressing Disabled Placard Abuse and Other Parking Issues for People with Dis­abilities” at parking-mobility.org/APCguide or on the APC website at ac­cessibleparkingcoalition.org, where you’ll find a host of other resources.  Let’s work together to make parking more accessible.#

HELEN SULLIVAN, APR, Fellow PRSA, is IPMI’s communications counsel. She can be reached at sullivan@parking-mobility.org.

The Accessible Parking Challenge

By Helen Sullivan, APR, Fellow PRSA

Parking and mobility professionals have the power to make a difference for 30 million (and growing) Americans with disabilities–people who need to park in our communities, campuses, and complexes to live an independent life, but who often circle, circle, circle and go home because accessible parking is not available.

People shared these comments with us in a recent survey:

  • “It all comes down to a lack of kindness and understanding.”
  • “I am a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Parking is the biggest obstacle in my life!”
  • “Parking issues make me add 90 minutes to my morning commute.”
  • “Street-side accessible parking spaces always assume the disabled person is the passenger. Try having to upload a wheelchair from the driver’s side, getting in and shutting the door while traffic is going by!”
  • “I have no grip or finger dexterity so pulling out tickets at parking garages is impossible.”

Does your on- and off-street parking comply with 2010 ADA Standards and meet all accessibility guidelines? Try putting yourself in the position of a wheelchair user (figuratively and perhaps even literally) and someone with impaired manual dexterity as you take inventory:

  • Would you find it easy to park close to the building?
  • Do you provide the space needed to load and unload a wheelchair safety and easily?
  • Are there streetscape issues (e.g. honor boxes for newspapers, curbs, benches, planters, etc.) that could interfere with mobility?
  • Do your snow and ice removal polices/equipment present any obstacles that interfere with accessible spaces and access aisle markings?
  • Can someone in a wheelchair easily reach–and manipulate–your pay stations and meters using case and credit cards?

This inventory action item is just one of a dozen included in the IPMI-led Accessible Parking Coalition’s soon-to-be-published, Let’s Make Accessible Parking More Accessible: A Practical Guide to Addressing Disabled Placard Abuse and Other Parking Issues for People with Disabilities.

The 24-page guide will be published later this month and will be a practical starting point to help your organization begin to address this issue effectively. It’s full of ideas and real-world examples of how others are making parking more accessible.

The problems related to accessible parking can’t be fixed overnight. This is a complex issue and the APC is a multi-year, multi-platform initiative, but there’s a great deal we can do as an industry if we do it together. More soon!

Helen Sullivan, APR, Fellow PRSA, is IPMI’s communications counsel.

Cops, Coloring Books, and Creativity

By Helen Sullivan

When it comes to life in general, I’m a big believer in coloring outside the lines, thinking outside the box, departing from the text. When it comes to parking—not so much. You all know parking lines are meant to guide drivers to park between them. That is never more important than next to an accessible parking spot. When IPMI’s Accessible Parking Coalition reported on its national survey among people with disabilities in 2018, a key finding was that 82 percent said “other vehicles parked too close” was the most likely obstacle that prevented them from exiting their vehicle. APC spokesperson Chris Hinds recounts the time he rushed his beloved Labrador retriever to the emergency vet only to lose precious minutes in the parking lot because someone had parked over the line so he couldn’t exit his van.

As parking and mobility professionals, we can do something about it. Police and public information officer Brad Uptmore of South Lake, Texas, has a creative idea. In his department, the mission is to “humanize the badge,” as he explains. When a police officer in South Lakes finds a car parked over the lines, they leave behind a memorable coloring book page that gently educates: “We noticed you had a little trouble staying in the lines when you parked next to a handicapped space. Maybe if you practice coloring our patch and staying in the lines here, it could help you avoid citations in the future.”

Here’s a segment about Uptmore’s creative campaign on the NBC-TV affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Now that I am super sensitive to accessible parking issues, those cross-hatched aisles drive me crazy—they’re often compromised by cars parked over the lines, abandoned shopping carts, or motorcyclists who think that area is for them!  Many drivers simply don’t realize the importance of keeping that area clear for the 30 million Americans with mobility disabilities.

What can our folks do to solve this? How about painting words on those cross hatchings? “Against the Law to Block this Area,” “Keep this Area Clear,” “Oops, Big Trouble If You Block This Area,” “Block this Area and Risk $XXX Fine.”

What can you do or what have you done to help educate people to park between the lines? Write to me at sullivan@parking-mobility.org. I would love to hear your ideas.

Helen Sullivan is IPMI’s communications counsel.

The Parking Professional: HOW the and WHY the

By David Mepham, PhDTPP how the why the

Rethinking parking,  the Main Street place and access experience, and where we go from here.

THE RISE AND RISE OF AMAZON AND ONLINE SHOPPING has trans­formed the way we consume. This trend can be contrasted with the demise of traditional shopping and face-to-face trading. Despite these trends, some Main Street shopping centers are not only surviving but thriving.
Above and beyond the provision of day-to-day goods and services, successful Main Street shopping centers offer an exceptional place and access experience. There is often a notable point of difference, along with a cultural edge, between successful centers and their competitors. The ones that do well are walkable places that invite people to both wander and linger, with places to relax and watch the world go by. These places offer interest­ing, unique goods and services with great food and beverages. Accessibility, including car parking and the local walk environment, is central to this ex­ceptional Main Street place and access experience.

While parking is important to accessibility, there are many ways in which it can detract from place quality. Thinking only about parking and cars rather than places and people, we end up with places that are easy to get to but there is nowhere to go or reason to stay. We find poorly designed and located car parking options with inadequate signage, avoidable right-of-way conflicts, and associated congestion. Creating attractive, accessible places requires a holistic approach to the parking experience and this must include safe, comfortable walking access.

Starting the Experience

The parking experience starts when we begin to contemplate our destination and mode choice. There are time and cost considerations, including who we are travelling with and our primary and second­ary activity objectives. Over and above our day-to-day travel grind, when we have the time and money, we are more inclined to go out with others. Shopping trips eas­ily take on a social dimension and are likely to involve the consumption of leisure. People love to spend money when they are having fun with friends.
While weighing parking options, we must consider a range of decisions. These include the ease of the ap­proach to the center, consideration of available or desir­able parking options, how we locate and then enter a car park, and actually parking our car, including the ease and legibility of paying for parking. Finally, the walk experi­ence between the car park and the center is considered.

Thinking or Feeling

So we leave home and drive to the center. Driving anywhere involves dealing with other drivers and inevitably some level of congestion and delay and then stress. Stress can distort our judgment and compro­mise our driving behavior. Car accidents are the main cause of serious injury to pedestrians and cyclists, with particular risks at crossings and corners.

Seeking parking in the center can be a particularly stressful experience, especially during busy periods when we have to compete with others for parking. Competition with a sense of urgency can bring out a less friendly side to our personality, sometimes ag­gression or even bullying. Under pressure to win or just to survive in a car parking/cage fight, our ratio­nal brain can flip very quickly into the more emotive/instinctive mode—it’s no surprise that some unbe­lievable stuff happens in parking garages and lots. Minimizing and relieving parking anxiety is one of the challenges for those involved in the provision and design of parking in busy centers. Good design and good information, early and accurate, are important in addressing this problem.

A range of parking options may be available in the center, each with its own costs and benefits. On- or off-street? Center or edge? Structure or at-grade? Public or private? Paid or unpaid? There are then the related issues of safety, comfort, surveillance/security, dura­tion, convenience, and amenities. So many decisions and so little information!
Directional signage is useful as we approach the center, but in the center itself and at the car park entry, it provides insufficient information and may direct drivers into full car parks, increasing local conges­tion, stress, and driver anxiety. Real-time wayfinding signage with mobile phone apps help us locate actual, available on-street or off-street parking. Real-time information reduces cruising and local traffic con­gestion and opens up our parking options depending on how much we want to pay and how long we want to stay. Less stress and less cruising with better, safer driving reduces risk and increases safety and comfort for pedestrians.

Rethinking Main Street Parking

On-street, Main Street parking is highly visible, acces­sible, and in high demand. The Main Street needs to provide access for on-street transit and delivery vehi­cles that need shorter-term parking. Typically, short-term parking supports hit-and-run shopping. High vehicle turnover from short-term parking with more complex vehicle movements often creates delays and congestion, with increased risk to cyclists and pedes­trians in the center. Demand-responsive parking pric­ing can spread the peak parking load to other streets, freeing up space.

On-street parking technologies with complemen­tary policies and equitable pricing enable a rethinking of the Main Street place function. By shifting some of the demand for on-street, Main Street parking to other nearby streets, there is an opportunity to socialize and green the Main Street.

Occasional buildouts into parking spaces shift seating and outdoor dining from the footpath to dedi­cated space enhanced with landscaping, art, trees, and shade. Buildouts also enable safer mid-block crossing points with high visibility holding space and a shorter road crossing. Less clutter on footpaths enables an improved level of service for pedestrians that is eas­ier and offers more comfortable walk access in peak times and at busy points, such as corners and crossing points. Uncluttered footpaths provide safe space for people with disabilities, ease for people with strollers and children, and a better walking and shopping expe­rience for everyone.
Rethinking Off-street Parking

Off-street parking provides for longer stays and time to shop, eat, drink, relax, and socialize. It also pro­vides easier access for people with disabilities and for people with children and strollers. Off-street parking may provide shorter term, high-turnover options in high-access areas closer to shops or services. When off-street parking is accessed from arterial roads, unnecessary Main Street congestion can be avoided. Vehicle access to parking via connecting side streets or laneways from the Main Street creates right-of-way conflicts with footpath traffic, especially at cor­ners where pedestrians are most likely to be injured by turning cars.

By restricting vehicle traffic through connecting side streets and laneways, there is an opportunity to create attractive, green, animated, and inclusive public places for social and community activities, cafes, restaurants, or bars, along with play places for kids, big and small. These places may evolve out of temporary, pop-up closures that will let planners understand impacts and enable informed community and business consultation. These can evolve to be the multi-functional spaces that are often missing from Main Street shopping centers.

Side streets and laneways may also function as the key connections to rail transit. In Melbourne, Austra­lia, rail lines often run adjacent to Main Streets, and smaller, less trafficked cross streets connect rail to Main Street buses. Parking and rail stations are often accessed via these connecting streets.

Increasing Place Quality

A good walking experience is a key element of a great part-of-the-journey parking experience, and it’s one we often overlook in planning for parking. This may be a case of 1 + 1 = 3: Pedestrian traffic to and from stations and car parking animates the place, supports social and economic activity, and increases the sense of safety both during the day and at night.

At-grade, off-street car parking can easily degrade place quality but with a more creative view of the site, you can alternately add something positive to the space. They may be seen as land banks for future development, especially where land adjoins a transit station. If park­ing is paid, a business case may exist for a higher quality parking structure, ideally mixed-use with an activat­ed street level—maybe with a giant art or green wall. Where at-grade parking is a longer-term preference, it is reasonable to consider larger trees, stormwater management, and water-sensitive urban design with complementary gardens to filter runoff. Solar panels can support onsite electric-charging stations and might double up as weather protection on dedicated walk paths with local area traffic management and security lighting and closed-circuit television cameras.

Paid parking typically supports the provision of higher quality parking outcomes. If the user is not pay­ing, then who is and why? It seems reasonable to in­dependently access the cost/benefit of unpaid public parking to properly understand the real costs and then consider higher and better outcomes. We know there really is no such thing as free parking; what we really don’t know is the cost of a poor parking experience on the overall place experience.

Parking, Place, and Accessibility

When we think about parking, we often fail to con­sider the effects of car park planning and design decisions on the wider place/access experience. I’m interested in how parking can enhance the place ex­perience. How can we make places better and safer for pedestrians, attractive places, “sticky” places, and places that balance a vibrant local economy with in­clusive social and community activities? We should consider how parking space might be more flexible in the shorter and longer terms and how parking can be cleaner, greener, and smarter.

Developments with parking technologies, transport technologies, artificial intelligence, electric cars and buses, shared cars, bikes, and other transportation modes with a range of environmental, economic, and social changes and challenges are catalysts for a re­think of parking and mobility, place, and accessibility. The question is how can we, as parking professionals, encourage these healthy, vibrant accessible places and stay one step ahead of Amazon?

Read the article here.

DAVID MEPHAM, PhD, is an urban access consultant based in Melbourne, Australia. He can be reached at mepham.consulting@gmail.com.



Parking is a Civil Right

By Shawn Conrad, CAE

My family wanted to bring a grandparent to a family function but learned quickly that this task would not be easy to accomplish. The grandparent used a wheelchair and needed the services of a wheelchair-accessible van.

Calls were made to paratransit companies and it was rather eye-opening to find out there was a three-week waiting time and that a pick-up was not guaranteed due to the limited availability of vans equipped for this special transport. We ended up bringing a small celebration to the nursing home instead.

With this experience in mind, I was excited to read in the Washington Post’s Gridlock column that Uber plans to contract with a paratransit firm to provide drivers and vehicles to transport people with disabilities. The six cities getting this service will be Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, and the District of Columbia. Later this year, the program will expand to San Francisco and Los Angeles. This effort won’t solve the dilemma faced by 30 million people with mobility disabilities in the U.S., but it’s a start.

As an industry, we have a significant role to play in solving problems related to accessible parking and disabled placard and plate abuse. Access to transportation, including parking, is a civil right in this country. The IPMI-led Accessible Parking Coalition is working to make a difference.

If you’re aware of innovative programs and policies that others would benefit from knowing about, please share your resources with the APC website via their submission form at accessibleparkingcoalition.org/share.

Shawn Conrad, CAE, is IPMI’s CEO.

Camera Crew in ADA Parking Space Sparks Furor

An MSNBC camera crew who blocked a parking space reserved for the disabled at an early voting polling place even after a disabled military veteran needed it sparked fury earlier this week. And in a sure indication that people around the world were talking about it, the facts about it have now been dissected on snopes.com.

The Houston man, who has multiple sclerosis, posted online that when he arrived to vote, the only space for the disabled at the polling place was taken up by the news crew, who refused to move so he could park. The post went viral almost immediately, leading to an apology from the reporter. This week, even snopes.com, which sets out to prove or debunks viral stories, investigated and posted its findings across social media in one of its popular fact checks.

Read the Snopes post here. And get information and resources to share about accessible parking here.