No need for tiered handicap parking
Updated: January 10, 2013 2:16PM
Who can argue with Illinois’ new disabled parking law?
I can, of course.
The new law creates a two-tier parking system for disabled drivers: severely disabled and less severely disabled. It goes into effect in 2014, when many parking placards expire.
Right now, all Illinoisans with disabled parking tags — approximately 600,000 people — can park in any handicapped-designated spaces and for free at parking meters.
Under the new law, only severely handicapped motorists will retain the parking meter exemption.
Severely handicapped is defined as someone who has trouble walking more than 20 feet, individuals who require wheelchairs, and parents of disabled children.
The less severely handicapped are those who can walk further than 20 feet and don’t need a wheelchair.
Walk 20 feet, huh? What does that mean? Walk jaunty-jolly for 20 feet or painfully hobble 20 feet? And what if the person can make 20 feet but can’t make 26?
What about the handicapped person who doesn’t use a wheelchair but walks on crutches?
A doctor will decide the level of a person’s disability when asked to fill out a disability form, you say. Yes. And that’s exactly what happens now.
So, why the need for a two-tier system for handicapped parking?
The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Karen May, D-Highland Park, was quoted in the press that she had the idea for the bill when her dermatologist told her dermatology patients had asked for handicapped parking stickers.
I don’t see how that bolsters a need for a two-tier handicapped parking sticker. Doctors who are asked to provide parking stickers for people who aren’t handicapped should refuse — as May said her dermatologist does.
People who fake being handicapped so they can park more easily shouldn’t get a tag whether there are one, two or 10 tiers.
The real problem is that people have handicapped stickers who shouldn’t — not mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the handicappedest of them all?
Doctors need to be rigorous in granting the handicapped designation. And drivers have to stop using a relative’s legitimate handicapped sticker because they are too lazy to look for a parking space.
What I see this new law accomplishing is reducing the number of Illinois residents who can park free at meters.
Just another revenue enhancer for our broke state.
But how does this law benefit handicapped drivers?