Illegal parking impedes my access
The striped lines are part of the parking spaces. You knew that, right?

Illegal parking impedes my access

Handicapped spaces — and the aisles next to them — are for people who need them

BRATTLEBORO — I use a wheelchair, so when I park my car in a handicapped parking space, I have to park in one with an access aisle next to the driver's side of my vehicle.

This access aisle is the adjacent space that is usually marked with crosshatched lines. It is not a parking space. It is there so people have enough extra room to enter and exit their vehicles, especially if they have a ramp that they use to assist them.

In the last few weeks, I have come back to my truck twice and have found cars parked in those access aisles - obviously, an inconvenience, as I can't get into my vehicle.

The first time, I went back into the Gibson-Aiken Center, and the wonderful staff went and found the driver who parked there.

When the gentleman came out and moved his car, he did apologize. He said he had parked there because it was easier for him. He didn't even have a handicapped parking pass.

The second time, I was having lunch at the Marina and the same thing happened. This car even had a handicapped placard!

I went inside and the staff asked around, but they were unable to find the offender. I finally had someone move my car for me so that I could get in it.

* * *

In some states, it is the law that these spaces be marked with signs that say “no parking allowed.” I believe in Vermont that handicapped spaces are to be marked not only on the pavement, but with a sign saying “handicapped parking only.”

This is so important during the winter when the lines on the pavement are covered with snow and people inadvertently (or maybe not) park in those spaces since they can't see the markings.

What can be done?

If you are a property owner, please make sure that the spaces are properly marked. It is a fineable offense for parking in these spaces, but truthfully the police have more important things to do.

In Vermont, you can be fined up to $271 and have your car towed for this violation, and it is treated as a traffic violation that will affect your insurance premium.

The easiest thing to do would be for me to find someone to move my car for me and leave, but then the offending party would not be held accountable. Yet finding the driver sometimes can be impossible (especially in a huge parking lot), and it wastes time that I might not have.

Brattleboro is working on making the town more accessible. The residents of the town need to help as well.

So please don't park in handicapped parking spots or the protected aisle spaces next to them if you don't have a pass - even if you “were only going to be a minute.”

Thanks for your help.

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