And Finally: Reclaim Our Spaces!

Reprinted from PN October 2001
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Recently I wrote a letter to the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission (ASCC) about wheelchair users' parking problem. In return, ASCC Executive Director Cheryl Vines informed me of the act Congressman Kim Hendren got passed for us.

This was good news indeed. But I would like to go a step farther and address the disability problem from a different point of view.

At first, a bill for wheelchair users passed, allowing them to park directly in front of businesses. This was done for several reasons. People in wheelchairs are low to the ground, and someone might back into them as they travel from a distant parking space. Another reason is to allow an extra-wide space to open the car door all the way to get in and out of the vehicle or to allow adequate [room] for vans equipped with chair lifts.

Soon, everyone with any kind of disability you can possibly think of joined in on the special parking spaces—and now people in wheelchairs can't find places to park.

If we let everyone with a disability park up front, we need to design a system. This can be done easily. We need to create new spaces for all the other people with disabilities who don't require wheelchairs.

I propose we have normal-size spaces for these people, right next to the ones designated for wheelchairs. They don't require a wide [spot] to park in, and three parking spaces can fit in the same [area] needed for two wheelchair users' spaces.

[Current] signs that say "handicapped" would be perfect for these smaller areas. Car tags could stay the same, so there would not be any confusion. Everyone would be happy, and people in wheelchairs could reclaim the parking spaces they fought so hard to get.

I have been in a wheelchair for 23 years, and for 23 years I have had a problem finding a space to park. Why? Not because there are so many wheelchair users, but because so many people misuse the [handicap] spaces.

Every year I have witnessed more people obtaining handicap permits. Even if all the people who are misusing these spaces are made to stop, the problem of wheelchair users finding places to park will remain. Although we have people like Vines and Hendren helping with this battle, the way things are now I don't see people in wheelchairs regaining their spaces.

I ask everyone who reads this and agrees with it to write [their] legislators so we can reclaim the space for wheelchair parking.

Mark Hoyt resides in Clinton, Ark. His comments appeared in Spinal Courier (July 2001), published quarterly by the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission. Used by permission. Contact: ASCC, /


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And Finally: Reclaim Our Spaces!


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