Be courteous about van-accessible parking

I’ve been trying to come up with a solution to a problem that I am having with handicap parking – or rather the lack of van-accessible parking – that doesn’t offend people. I have been an aid for adults with disabilities for about 10 years and have noticed more frequently that when I need a van-accessible parking space, they are all taken. I wouldn’t be so frustrated by this if it was actually wheelchair vans using these spaces, but many times they are small cars. I honestly have thought about leaving nasty notes on their windshields but realized that conflicts almost certainly would arise.

My client is a young man in a wheelchair who is a student at Fort Lewis College, and the problem is particularly bad at the school, but I have noticed it in many other places. I understand that many times these spaces are used by people who can’t walk far and need closer parking. Because of the many reasons for issuing handicap plaques, some establishments are very good at accommodating everyone. I realize that it works quite well to have van-accessible parking toward the back of a parking lot – most often this is what we use. I don’t need close parking because I push my client’s wheelchair for him, but after the thought crossed my mind to suggest those types of parking spaces, I realized that while that would work for us, there are other residents who wheel themselves around, and it wouldn’t be fair to ask them to put forth all that extra effort.

So what I am asking is that we all be aware of the needs of others. I can use the van-accessible parking that is farther from buildings. Those who need oxygen should have closer spaces available, and those who can maneuver their wheelchairs independently should have the front van-accessible spaces. Please be courteous when parking. I hope this letter serves to raise awareness and make life a little easier for others.

Katherine Gow

Bayfield