PSA: Give Accessible Parking Spots The Space They Require

by Cassandra Stone
Originally Published: 
Image via Facebook/Rachelle Chapman

Rachelle Chapman’s Facebook photo shows the importance of correctly parking in accessible spaces

Who among us has not felt victimized by the crappy parking job of others on many occasions? Thoughtless parking — cars that take up two spaces, are too close or too far away from the lines, or cars that are just angled any which way — can be insanely frustrating. Especially if you’re someone who relies on wheelchair-friendly accessible parking spaces.

Rachelle Chapman, an author and married mom to daughter Kaylee, became paralyzed in 2010 after suffering a severe spinal chord injury during a freak accident. She now relies on a wheelchair and the parking spaces that allow her accessible van to get her around. She recently shared a message on Facebook in a now-viral post, calling attention to those who don’t park properly in accessible spaces and why this is a huge problem.

The car parked in the spot next to hers is taking up almost half of the area reserved for wheelchair ramps and transfers. Making it impossible for Chapman to get into her van.

“You guys, I seriously can’t deal with this anymore,” she wrote. “What people don’t realize, is that those lines are for a ramp and/or for wheelchair users to transfer. Because of the way this person parked, I cannot get back into my car independently and it keeps me from wanting to branch out and drive on my own.”

Image via Rachelle Chapman

In the photo, it’s clear she can’t turn around to back her way up the ramp because of the careless way someone else parked their car. She notes the person parked in that spot has a handicap tag.

“Most of the problems I encounter are people who legally have a handicap tag,” she says. “For whatever reason, they are unaware of why these lines are there and they use it as an excuse to park badly. There are many people who have disabilities that don’t involve wheelchairs and I guess this is something they just have never thought about.”

I admit, I didn’t know why those lines existed and now I’m glad I do. Many of us make an effort to not park like total assholes, but maybe those of us who have been guilty of doing just that will think twice next time. Especially when it comes to accessible areas.

“I experience this problem almost daily,” Chapman tells Scary Mommy. “It’s kind of like, life is pretty hard for me and I’m already going through so many obstacles. This shouldn’t have to be one of them because it is so preventable.”

Once when I was eight months pregnant and working in the city (which has notoriously tight parking garage spaces), some jerk parked right next to the driver’s side door in a similar fashion. I had to breathlessly maneuver and squeeze across the passenger side and crawl into the driver’s seat to go home at the end of the day. I am in no way comparing my scenario with hers, and I wasn’t quite as graceful in my response– I left a particularly nasty note (because ain’t no rage like third trimester rage). But it must feel incredibly frustrating to experience what Chapman does on a daily basis.

“Based on the comments of my post, thousands of people just learned something and maybe we the post could really make a difference with the issue,” she says.

She ends her post by urging people to please park within the designated lines — and asking those who don’t rely on van accessibility to stick to the regular accessible spots.

“I seriously need to let the world know so that this stops happening and people in wheelchairs can have as much accessibility as possible.”

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