Law, safety, courtesy say leave handicap space

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David Wilson has worked hard to live independently after a bad dive into a swimming pool put him in a wheelchair 22 years ago.

David Wilson shows how little room there is to use his wheelchair lift between parking spaces. A sticker on the van tells motorists to leave space, but it is often ignored, he said.   Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
David Wilson shows how little room there is to use his wheelchair lift between parking spaces. A sticker on the van tells motorists to leave space, but it is often ignored, he said.

But almost once a week he finds himself with no choice but to wait for an able-bodied person's assistance -- sometimes for hours.

Wilson drives a van with a wheelchair lift that gets him in and out. A sticker on the side of the van warns motorists not to park too close because the lift needs about eight feet of clearance.

Wilson regularly finds his lift blocked, though, when he returns to his van. If he's at a restaurant, he can try to find the driver who blocked his lift; if it's at the mall, he's usually in for a long wait.

"I don't take it to heart," said Wilson, a patient advocate at Walton Options for Independent Living.

There are some choice things he would like to tell people who abuse or obstruct handicap parking, "but I don't talk like that," Wilson said.

Common courtesy would dictate that people without disabilities not park in a spot reserved for people who rely on wheelchairs and walkers to get around.

If that's not a strong enough reason, think safety.

Most handicap parking spots are close to store entrances, not just for easy access but also to minimize how far people in a wheelchair have to travel through a parking lot.

Motorists have a hard time seeing the low profile of a person sitting in a wheelchair, especially as they back up a vehicle.

"There's nothing more dangerous than a parking lot," said Tim Hollobaugh, who has limited mobility because of Lyme disease.

Hollobaugh is working closely with City Administrator Fred Russell to improve handicap parking in Augusta, particularly downtown. The curbs downtown are lowered near handicap spots to allow the disabled to wheel onto the sidewalk.

When all of the spots are taken, a downtown visitor must wheel into the street to find the next closest ramp, Hollobaugh said. That's dangerous for both motorists and the person in the wheelchair.

"We can't jump out of the way," he said.

Hollobaugh saw a woman in a motorized wheelchair get hit by a car when he lived in California. The 500-pound chair rolled several times on the woman and killed her, he said.

On a more personal level, Hollobaugh's wife, Shirley, had her foot run over by a delivery van as she crossed the street in her wheelchair.

The bottom line is that few disabled people bring their dollars downtown because there isn't anywhere to park, Hollobaugh said.

Robbie Breshears, the community services coordinator for Walton Options for Independent Living, said most people with disabilities want to be treated the same as the rest of the society.

Handicap parking is not special treatment but a boost toward personal independence, said Breshears, who was born with cerebral palsy.

People who abuse handicap parking drive Breshears "crazy."

"They should look at their life and be fortunate that they don't really have to use those spaces," he said.

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disssman
6
Points
disssman 07/04/10 - 04:58 am
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I love it when I see

I love it when I see Corvettes or other little 2 seaters parked with their handicapped stickers. Or better yet when the wife is driving the husbands, vehicle with the little special sticker. I have never understood the need for someone to be parked near a store entrance? As to the distance they will travel, I am sure if the batteries are charged, they will make it. Handicapped shoulkd be just that, if you ain't on crutches or in a wheelchair, you don't qualify. Most people you see are just plain fat and need the exercise.

dodo1234
0
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dodo1234 07/04/10 - 06:22 am
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I'm with you on that,

I'm with you on that, disssman. I have a cousin who got a handicap sticker because she is fat and has so-called bipolar disorder(scam). She also gets a SS check and hasn't worked long enough to put anything into SSI. And we talk about illegals soaking up the system! As far as the 8 foot clearance a handicap van needs, why not have a motorized arm that would extend out from the top of the van that would kind of be like a big fan and keep an 8 foot clearance available. Just a thought.

corgimom
36459
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corgimom 07/04/10 - 06:30 am
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Speaking as a disabled

Speaking as a disabled person, there are days when I am in so much pain I can hardly walk. Some days I do ok; some days are bad. While a wheelchair may be in my future- in fact, it's a very strong possibility down the road- I am trying to stay as active as I can for as long as I can.

I don't look disabled. I make every effort, when I am in public, to hide my pain and discomfort. But that doesn't mean it's not there.

I've had people make rude comments to me. They aren't well-received, and I make my feelings known.

It's easy for active, healthy people to criticize. When you are on the other side of the fence, the situation looks far different.

Instead of deciding for other people whether or not they are disabled, just look at them and think "that could be me" and treat them accordingly.

Because one day, that COULD be you. Nobody is immune from accidents, illnesses, or infirmities of old age.

ArmyWife.
0
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ArmyWife. 07/04/10 - 06:35 am
0
0
You have to be careful with

You have to be careful with assumptions, though. When I was at a mall in MD, I was walking through the parking lot when a man who appeared to be perfectly healthy got out of a car in a handicapped place. With a look of disgust on my face I told him he shouldn't be parking in the handicapped spot. He then lifted his pantleg to show a prosthetic leg. I wanted to crawl under a rock, I was so embarrased.

seenitB4
93470
Points
seenitB4 07/04/10 - 06:40 am
0
0
I agree Corgi....no one can

I agree Corgi....no one can see the pain another person may have.
I know, I have been a very healthy gal until I had hip surgery...then I found more compassion for handicap folks than ever b4....as the old saying goes ..walk in my shoes for a day...thankfully I don't need a cane or HC spaces now but I do have respect for those who do.

getalife
4
Points
getalife 07/04/10 - 08:22 am
0
0
Handicap parking places

Handicap parking places should be for those that are unable to walk a long distance. I see people that I know with handicap stickers and tags and I know the sticker was for a relative of the driver that has already died. Once these people get a handicap sticker they seem to keep it. The state needs a better method for giving handicap stickers.

dani
12
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dani 07/04/10 - 08:42 am
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Kroger on Wrightsboro Road

Kroger on Wrightsboro Road Wed noon. Two young men with boom box going swerve into a handicapped parking space after entering the lane from the wrong direction, end up at an angle therefore taking two spaces, ran into the store. I didn't report it, I figure they are mentally handicapped and not responsible.

RAINBOW
11
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RAINBOW 07/04/10 - 09:06 am
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I am glad the time was took

I am glad the time was took to write this article,maybe it will make more people think before the park in a handicap zone if they don't need it.

areyoukidding
1
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areyoukidding 07/04/10 - 09:06 am
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My mom had a handicap

My mom had a handicap sticker. However, I never used it unless she was in the car with me AND she planned on going inside. You see folks who have the sticker for some other family member, park in the handicap spot, pull the sticker out of the glove box and put it up. These folks who use a sticker just because they have one are the folks who REALLY should know better.

scoobynews
3896
Points
scoobynews 07/04/10 - 09:39 am
0
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Isn't there a new law going

Isn't there a new law going in to effect were the person's picture has to be on the ID if it was of those mirror type? If not then there should be. I saw two very young and extremely healthy looking individuals just the other day get out of a car. My father who lost a leg years ago has a limp so I do know that looks can be deceaving but there was no limp and no signs of struggle or pain to exit the car. I know because we pulled in at the same time. What was so sad is there were plenty of regular places near by in fact my space which was non handicap was right next to the handicap space. I try to think sometimes maybe they have something I can't see but I also know that people are abusing these handicap stickers all the time. No article in the world, dirty looks, or threats to report them will ever get them to stop abusing them because some folks just don't care.

536
Points
Lakeside95 07/04/10 - 12:27 pm
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As someone with a handicapped

As someone with a handicapped permit I have been accosted, yelled at, called names and had the police called. I sometimes find it easier to park in an expectant mother spot, because unlike a handicap, most people won't ask if I am pregnant or just fat. The best example is when I came out to my car at the Evans Kroger and found a older couple blocking my car in with their car. They told me I couldnt leave til the police arrived. So I had to wait for a Columbia County deputy to arrive and diffuse the situation. I did offer to lift my pant leg to show them my braced knee, my foot-long scar or the medical report that says I won't be walking by the time I am 45...the old folks weren't interested.

Southern Sailor
0
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Southern Sailor 07/04/10 - 12:28 pm
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I agree with everything

I agree with everything posted. It is hard to believe that people of all ages abuse handicapped parking privileges, but they do, and they still look at themselves in the mirror every morn. And I am lucky to have figured out that these abusers are also immune to dirty looks. Heck, I am barely 30, so giving so many people so many dirty looks was bound to result in lots of wrinkles in the future!

30cal
0
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30cal 07/04/10 - 01:07 pm
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I love the guy who walks the

I love the guy who walks the mall then gets in his sports car w/ sticker and drives away.

belle
309
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belle 07/04/10 - 01:37 pm
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30cal...MAYBE the guy has a
Unpublished

30cal...MAYBE the guy has a heart or breathing problem that prevents him from walking in the GA heat so he walks the air conditioned mall with plenty of help nearby should he have a problem and can't park too far away from the building because of the hot asphalt and the heat from it. Maybe. Maybe not. But just because your handicapped doesn't mean you have to drive a van.

disssman
6
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disssman 07/04/10 - 06:50 pm
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I'll be honest folks. I have

I'll be honest folks. I have a hard time walking, and am always short of breath, but I don't jhave a handicap badge. I believe the idea has been so diluted from when it was conceived in the 60s that it is meaningless today. It is almost like food stamps, everyone is qualified and for any reason. My solution is I try to help people get exercise by always leaving my shopping cart in a handicapped parking spot. BTW irt is illegal to leave my car there, but perfectly legal to leave my cart there. And I will continue to do so until the law is changed to reflect only people in a manual wheelchair (motorized scooters can park at the end of the line) or on crutches, especially at malls where the walkways are miles long.

PUPPYMOMMA
1367
Points
PUPPYMOMMA 07/04/10 - 07:21 pm
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Handicap placards expire

Handicap placards expire after 4 years. You have to get signed form from a physician to qualify. I know of 'fat' people who qualify and it irks me but I'm not a doctor and I don't know the whole story. My mother had one . She has since passed away but I would never dream of using it because I know what she was going through when she had to have one. Mr. dissman,I agree with you on most of your post but please don't leave your buggy in a handicap spot. You may feel personal satisfaction but I've seen buggies roll away and hit cars. That is my pet peeve- someone who doesn't put their buggy away. I consider it exercise. If I see a stray buggy near my car I take it into the store or stall because I don't want it to bump my car. Parking lots usually have signs that state that they are not responsible for buggy damage. I guess what I'm trying to get across is to be considerate.

teachingthemasses
0
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teachingthemasses 07/05/10 - 08:42 am
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I drive my dad who is 77 and

I drive my dad who is 77 and walks with a cane. He has COPD and get out of breath very quickly. Now while the driver may be a perky young thing... the passenger is the one who needs the assistance. If my dad is not with me, I park at the far end of the parking lot for the exercise.

corgimom
36459
Points
corgimom 07/05/10 - 05:44 pm
0
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"My solution is I try to help

"My solution is I try to help people get exercise by always leaving my shopping cart in a handicapped parking spot."

So, if the person that wants to pull into that spot is wheelchair-bound, your solution is- what? Get into their wheelchair in the traffic lane, push the buggy out of the way, get back in their car, load their wheelchair, and then pull into the space?

Or if it's a parent, with a wheelchair bound child- they are supposed to get out, move the buggy- that you couldn't be bothered to put in the correct area- and then get back in, so they can pull into the spot?

Why do you think that disabled people need more exercise?

And sure, let people in motorized wheelchairs park at the end of a row- so that as they come down the traffic lane, cars can back into them and run them over, because they sit so low to the ground, and a driver can't see them. Now, that's a plan.

What a nasty, needless thing to do to an innocent person.

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