Handicapped parking spots, or "accessible parking spaces", as they're now referred to, are parking spots for people with disabilities, made possible by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The self-evident purpose of a handicapped parking spot is to make it easier and more convenient for a disabled person to access the entrance of a venue or facility. A noble gesture! But what is it exactly about a handicapped parking spot that makes it convenient? Is it the spacing of the spot? Sometimes.
Handicapped parking spots can be relatively larger than non-handicapped parking spots to accommodate those with wheel chairs. However, some parking lots don't have these larger handicapped spots -- usually really small parking lots -- so some disabled people miss out on this convenience.
Of course! It's the distance between the handicapped parking spot and the entrance of the facility that makes handicapped parking spots convenient, right? No, sorry! Not only is the distance between a handicapped parking spot and the entrance of a facility inconsistent depending on the location, but some locations, such as a sports arena, have additional parking lots a few blocks away that also contain handicapped parking spaces.
Additionally, those parking lots that do have the larger handicapped parking spaces, these larger spaces are only located directly in front of the bank that happens to be quite the distance from the restaurant in the same parking lot. No one is depositing any checks this evening -- just steak.
So if it's not always about the spacing, and never about the distance, what then is it about a handicapped parking space that is supposed to make it convenient? Their God-given purpose is convenience, right? Nope! Based on the logic above, the purpose of a handicapped parking spot is not convenience, but rather [in a how did you not see this coming, but non-bragging observation], "I'm closer than you are!"
That's right. Handicapped parking spaces are not always and never were entirely about convenience, but always about being the parking spot closest to the entrance of a facility, relative to the non-handicapped parking space it shares the parking lot with.
Oh, yes -- that handicapped parking spot thats 3 blocks away from the sports arena's entrance may be 3 blocks away, but it's damn closer to the entrance than the non-handicapped parking spots within the same lot.
But in an ironic twist of logic, even this logic doesn't hold up. Remember that large single parking lot with both the bank and restaurant? Well, it has larger handicapped parking spaces, but not only are they no where near the entrance of the restaurant, many rows of non-handicapped parking spaces come before them.
So in the end, "accessible parking spaces" are really just about giving privilege to disabled people, sometimes -- which is what we should do in a compassionate and civilized society -- but we're going about it the wrong way.
If you're going to spend the time and money to make the lives of disabled people better with a parking space, first make sure there are not only larger handicapped parking spaces in all parking lots, but that these larger handicapped parking spaces exist in front of every facility's entrance.
And second, don't put a handicapped parking spot in a parking lot that's 3 blocks away from the entrance of a facility. How is that convenient? No, you take those handicapped parking spots that are 3 blocks away and you move them to the facility's adjacent parking lot.
Yes, you'll have to use some of the non-handicapped parking spaces to make this happen, but don't worry -- no one's counting.
- "ADA Design Guide." United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://www.ada.gov/restripe.pdf>.