Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Why is handicap parking free?

I know that this one's going to get me into trouble, but here goes ...

In response to a Globe report on handicap parking-placard abuse, I wrote a letter to the editor that placard abuse stems, at least in part, from parking scarcity and too-low meter rates. (Full letter below.)

Thinking about it some more, I realized that there is another contributing factor: the free-ness of handicap parking.

Let me get one item out of the way. I am absolutely in favor of plentiful, convenient handicap parking. People with limited mobility absolutely have a right to park close to their destinations. I would not remove a single existing handicap space, on-street or off-.

But, there's no reason at all that handicap parking should be free. More precisely, there's no reason that handicap parking should be priced any differently than other spaces. If there were no difference between the price of handicap parking and other spaces, you'd remove one of the incentives for placard abuse.

Before you, dear reader, curse me for my insensitivity to the people who deservedly make use of handicap parking spaces, ask yourself this: why is it that parking—alone among all other aspects of private vehicle ownership and use—has a different fee for handicap and non-handicap users?

As far as I can tell:

So why should there be a discount for handicap parking?

To be sure, if you put meters on handicap spaces, they are still more attractive because of their relative availability compared to regular spaces. But that's because all meter rates are too low. Higher rates would create regular vacancies and further diminish the distinct value of handicap spaces.

My full letter to the Globe:

There's no question that the abuse of handicap parking placards is a story of appalling immorality. But, it is also a story of parking scarcity and the poor management of the city's parking assets.

Metered on-street parking is scarce—in part—because the meter rates are so low. High off-street parking rates and the illegal ends people are willing to go to secure on-street parking tells us that the market will bear higher, market-based meter prices for on-street parking. Properly set market-based parking rates would create regular parking vacancies, reduce cruising for parking, and generate revenue that could be used in the immediate business district.

Market-based meter rates won't prevent handicap parking placard abuse, but it would remove one proffered excuse: that there are just no other spaces available.


Anonymous said...

Some responses I've come across as to why handicapped parking might be free is that some wheelchair-bound folks simply can't reach the meters, nor can they read the rates, which often require the parker to look straight to read the information. Now given that, I understand why handicapped parking may be free, but often times, it is limitless as well? Any ideas to justify that piece of it?

Anonymous said...

If you can provide a special space also provide a special meter.

Anonymous said...

I cannot afford the parking meters as is, increasing the cost seems like a benifit that once again limits the poor. Free parking for people that require closer parking doesn't come close to the experiences they face in getting equally paying jobs. I think you should reconsider your opinion.


Anonymous said...

Very good Justin i agree the pin head that said why handicap parking should not be free is because hes rich and he wants to charge more because he can afford it not like most handicapped people can just a another rich s.o.b crying because he don't have a free parking for him and he wants the price to be higher so he can park anytime and anywhere he wants to right. so what theres a few free parking spaces for the handicapped people just in force the law and make the people who violate it pay higher penalty not high meeter so the rich guy can park closer they just what it all don't they.

Anonymous said...

I am disabled and the very fact that when I use my handicap hanger I am allowed free parking means I can park closer to my destination. In my area there are no "handicap" parking spaces offered on street parking, it's first come-first serve, and it's pricey. Iff I need/want/desire saving money I would either have to park in a garage and walk a fair amount, or park in one of the free parking areas which are located about a mile outside of town. Inorder to remove the obsticals many disabled people face the goverment reconized the fact that not only are many disabled people unable to walk very far, but the price we pay for parking shouldn't be subject to how far we CAN walk. To charge for on-street parking would further hinder many people who would be unable to afford the fee, plus the added stress of trying to limit how long we are in a building. When I was able-bodied it was no big deal to dash out and add money to a meter, but now it takes me twice as long to reach my destination, let alone adding the worry about running out of time or making the trip twice? All I can say is I would stay home.

linemarking southern suburbs said...

Free parking for people that require closer parking