It Is Called an "Access Aisle" for a Reason

Submitted by Kevin Williams on July 29, 2013 - 4:00pm

Hey Drivers:  Are you serious?!  I mean….fer reals?!  Those yellow cross-hatched lines.  See ‘em?   Mean anything to you?  Didn’t they cover that in driver’s ed?  Maybe you just couldn’t see ‘em.  They aren’t quite yellow enough.  Oh, I see…

Image of car parked in an access aisle "My, what a nice big accessible space they have!"

You were “only going to be there for a minute…just needed to run in and grab something real quick from the store.”

 Well, that “minute” you spent gambling at Bullwhackers cost me two hours of my time that was wholly unexpected.  You see, I drive that van you parked next to from my motorized wheelchair, and I get in and out with a side-loading wheelchair ramp.  See those yellow painted lines?  That’s where the ramp goes, not your car!  You made me late for a court appearance, which almost resulted in a ruling against my client, you put me in a position of looking incompetent before a federal district court judge, and you made seven people from out of state have to reschedule the hearing and return to Denver.*  When I came out to my van and found you parked there, you completely blocked any and all access I needed to get in my vehicle.

 But, so what for you?  You are obviously far busier and more important than I, so why should you care?

 You have never known the unbelievable inconvenience of trying to leave some place in your car and suddenly discovering you can’t because someone parked in the access aisle.

Image of car parked in an access aisle "This space is even wider than the others!"

Image of luxury sedan parked across an access aisle "Don't want any scratches!"

Image of a SUV parked in an access aisle SUV's follow different rules

So, what are my options when this happens?

 (1) Try to track you down and make you move your car.  That sometimes works.  In a small store, maybe, or a place where your license plate number can be announced over an intercom.  I like this option because it forces you to be inconvenienced just as I have been, because you will have to go out and move your car.  Also, it forces you to witness the problem you have created firsthand, which I will be more than happy to demonstrate.  Hopefully, when this happens, and you have to move your car, you feel some sense of shame or embarrassment and, maybe, you won’t do it again.  But, in the situation depicted in the first picture above, the parking space was in Central City, Colorado, the gambling town.  The car’s driver could have been in any casino anywhere.  There is no way to even begin to try to track the driver down.  Even in a small store parking lot, I am required to go back inside the store, track down an employee or a manager, explain the situation (which often entails going back out to the parking lot to show the employee), then waiting for the employee to track down the offending customer, explaining the situation again, and, finally, getting them to move the vehicle.  That whole experience is very time consuming.  On top of that, business owners often say they don’t want to “upset the customers.”  Get that?  They don’t want to upset their OTHER customers.  Inconveniencing me, of course, is no big deal.  Let’s face it, I’m in a wheelchair.  Obviously, I don’t have any place important to be.  And then again, some stores may not quite get it at all:

Image of shopping carts lined up in an access aisle "Please return all shopping carts to the designated cart corral"

 (2) Call the police.  Again, this is time consuming.  And, usually, the police do not treat this situation as an emergency, so you might have a long wait before an officer arrives.  Also, more often than not, the parking lot is on private property (a grocery store, my work office building, a restaurant), and the police simply say they can’t enforce traffic violations on private property.  They might not even come.  And then, what do you do when . . . ?

Image of a police car parked in an access aisle "To serve and protect

(3)   (3) Engage in vigilante justice.  Those of us who have experienced this have all had thoughts of just letting the ramp down on type of the offending vehicle.  But that will likely get some police attention, and, most likely some shop-time for your van, another court appearance (where they call you “defendant”), and then there’s the insurance company…the inevitable civil suit, etc.  This “feel good” option isn’t the best choice if your objective is to save time.

       (4) Self Help:  Planning ahead never hurts:

 

Image of a van parked in an accessible space with the ramp lowered into the access aisle. I suggest parking this way if you have the option.

      It is truly incomprehensible that people who are licensed to drive a motor vehicle do not understand that what those diagonal lines mean.  My brief (insert search engine of your choice) search on driver’s license exam questions did not elicit information about this issue, but search on “cross hatch parking,” and you find all sorts of interesting stuff.  For example, on Yahoo answers…

Resolved Question

Is there any way to contest a crosshatch parking ticket?

So the other night, I got a $340 ticket for parking in a crosshatch zone apparently. I know what a crosshatch zone is and this crosshatch zone happened to be about 2-3 parking spaces wide next to the handicap space and the white grid lines are extremely faded. Not only that, the lighting in that area is very poor and the sign indicating that it was a loading zone was obstructed by trees. Is there any way to contest this? There are only 2 handicap spaces in this lot, and both of them have crosshatch grid marks covering 2-3 parking spaces next to it. However when I come to this parking lot, I always see cars parked over these areas. Can I challenge that there is a visibility/maintenance issue here?

 

Best Answer - Chosen by Voters

If you feel the area is not reasonable marked, you could take pictures and present them to the judge. 

The fact others parked there in the past is not a defense, I wouldn't suggest you mention that at all.     

Thank goodness we can get life’s toughest questions answered on Yahoo!  Did you catch the “next to the handicap spaces” part?  Hmmmmmmmmm.

 The Americans with Disabilities Act 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (“Standards”) require that access aisles be provided, but they do not specify how they are to be marked:

502.3.3 Marking. Access aisles shall be marked so as to discourage parking in them.

 Advisory 502.3.3 Marking. The method and color of marking are not specified by these requirements but may be addressed by State or local laws or regulations. Because these requirements permit the van access aisle to be as wide as a parking space, it is important that the aisle be clearly marked.

In cases we have litigated in Colorado, we have argued that because the government entity or private business entity that provides parking must ensure that it also provides accessible parking, the entity must post signs at the front of or in the access aisles that say “No Parking.”**  We did so in our Park Meadows Mall lawsuit, requiring the mall management company to ensure that at the front of every access aisle, there is a sign saying "No Parking" and citing the state law vpurtsuant to which you may be ticketed or towed.  We did so in settlement with the City and County of Denver who owns Red Rocks Amphitheatre as well.  That case was unique, because parking at Red Rock for the general public is in dirt lots that do not have designated parking spaces.  We got Denver to agree to install spaces specifically reserved for accessible parking and to add additional designated accessible parking spaces (“Convertible Spaces”) on concert nights.  To ensure people would not park in the access aisles, we got the City to agree to install temporary signs in the access aisles.

 Image of a temporary no parking sign in an access aisle No Parking, Accessible Passenger Loading Zone, Violators Are Subject to Being Ticketed or Towed

Information about this case, including the Court-ordered Consent Decree, is available on our website under Red Rocks.

Either people are incapable of learning basic parking rules, or (as it always is), when people with disabilities are provided a reasonable accommodation that looks like we’re getting “special privileges,” everybody wants a piece.  (For example, non-disabled ticket scalpers who buy up all accessible front row Red Rocks tickets online by claiming to need wheelchair seats and then selling them via the Internet saying, “These are usually handicap seats, but you can sit there too.  If you don’t mind a few people in wheelchairs near you.”)  Often times, the offender is a person who has a valid accessible parking placard (perhaps an older person with a significant heart condition) who just does not seem to understand the purpose of the access aisle.

The Standards also require signs at parking spaces, but they do not require them at access aisles.

502.6 Identification. Parking space identification signs shall include the International Symbol of Accessibility complying with 703.7.2.1. Signs identifying van parking spaces shall contain the designation "van accessible." Signs shall be 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground surface measured to the bottom of the sign.

So, to combat ignorance, mean-spiritedness, or just plain foolishness, the best way to ensure the access aisles remain open is to place a sign at the front of the access aisle that says, “No Parking:”

Two images of parking signs stating that that there is no parking in the access aisle "Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs!"


*It didn’t happen exactly like this, but it could have.

**Placing no parking signs “in” the access aisles is dangerous, because if they are placed incorrectly, they might obstruct the space needed for a wheelchair lift or ramp to be deployed.

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