by Jaime Lewis - CCDC Transit Advocate and Advisor
July 9, 2020
State and County governments have struggled for two decades to fund repairs for roads and bridges. Rising costs and dwindling gas tax revenues have left most of the roads and bridges in our state at near or below standards.
Congress is currently debating the Invest Act. The Invest Act is a sub-portion of the larger act called the “Moving Forward Act” that will address housing, climate change, water, and land use. Four highlights of the Invest Act are,
Two years ago, Dave Genova, former CEO of RTD had a vision. He wanted to reimagine RTD. In other words, what would people expect of RTD in 2050?
The average length of a car trip is 2-4 miles. Smaller communities provide little to no transportation for our elderly, disabled, and the general public. A trip less than 4 miles could mean access to groceries, healthcare, recreation, and social interaction.
That’s all I got to say about that.
CCDC provides this information so you are informed of transit information. We hope some of you will take this knowledge and use it to share with your local representatives.
CCDC held a listening tour around the state in 2018. Please find the report here…if you want the exhibits and the presentation used during the tour please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are not posting it because even though the information about “what is happening next” was accurate at the time, it has already changed. We are attaching the handout we gave about how to determine the validity of news sources.
We are still seeking feedback and would love your feedback on this report.
Everyone that works in the realm of disabled parking knows that we have a problem…there are too many placards out there –7 for each legitimate user at latest estimate. People often assume that the abuse is due to everyone wanting the “good spaces” that are close to the building. That may be a desirable feature, but a much more desirable feature is that in some jurisdictions, people with a placard or disability plates do not need to pay for parking. As parking becomes more expensive and harder to find, the temptation to use a disability placard inappropriately grows.
Why is disabled parking free? It stems from the fact that often governments and parking lot owners do not make the payment system accessible to all. To be accessible it must be something that one can reach even if one uses a wheelchair or is of short stature. It also has to be accessible to someone without use of fingers or hands. Lowered meters with phone payment options are available in other cities but Colorado has not widely adopted this requirement. The ideal situation would be accessible meters so people with disabilities can park where everyone else parks and pay like anyone else. Equality means doing what everyone else does….even paying for parking. However, until the method of payment is accessible, payment cannot be required.
Only a small subset of people that require accessible parking actually have a problem using a meter. People that use wheelchairs and are unable to stand at all cannot use a meter. People with no hand use or finger coordination cannot use most meters. People of short stature cannot reach meters. Most others with disabilities can use meters. Anyone who simply cannot walk a long distance, people that use wheelchairs but can stand, and people with one good hand can all use a meter.
HB 18-1285 Remuneration-Exempt Disability Parking Placard was an attempt to create a second specialized placard to distinguish individuals who truly cannot use a meter so only those individuals would be eligible for free parking in accessible spaces. Others would still be able to park close, use the wide spaces, etc., but would be expected to pay in metered zones.
Individuals will be qualified for the new placard for the following reasons
Unfortunately this definition excludes one group of people unable to reach a meter. CCDC lobbied for a modification of the 3rd qualifier above to read “Ability to reach or access a parking meter due to disability”. However our proposed amendment to make the bill accomplish the goal was rejected.
This law is permissive meaning that local governments are free to enact it or not. CCDC believes that it would be discriminatory to give free parking to only some people that cannot reach a meter based not on function but on whether or not they use a wheelchair. Some people that use wheelchairs can stand. Some people have wheelchairs that elevate their seats. On the other hand others walk but due to small size are not able to reach a meter or pay slots. Because the Americans’ with Disabilities Act requires state and local governments to avoid discrimination, even though this is a state law, local governments could be at risk for litigation if they implement the law as written. The ADA is a federal law and federal law supersedes state law.
We do not know at this time if any municipalities are planning to use this new provision. Below are some frequently asked questions about the law:
When will the Law go into effect? January 1st 2019
Will the new law cover the entire State? Yes, each municipality will decide whether or not they will change their rules to match the new law.
How can I get a new placard? You do not need a new placard, but an additional placard. There is no application for this additional placard at this time. Information on obtaining and renewing a placard or plate is here.
That is likely the same place the new applications will be when they are ready.
What are the rules about disabled parking? The state has a brochure outlining the rules.
If you have strong feelings about whether or not your local government should implement this law reach out to your city council or county commission. CCDC believes the idea is right but that it must apply to ALL disability types that cannot reach or use a meter. As a cross-disability organization we cannot support leaving out one disability type. We also believe there should be an “other” category to account for some condition that no one has thought of that might not fit on any list. The exemption from payment should be based on disability related function-the inability to use meters or pay structures.
CCDC also has concerns about education and outreach to the disability community. The bill was silent on this matter and we are concerned that if this is implemented in a community the people that are used to free parking would not know that they need to get a new placard. There must be adequate outreach to affected individuals with adequate time for them to obtain the secondary placard. We are also concerned about how people that use plates and do not use (and cannot use) placards will be accommodated in this process.
CCDC agrees that there is a problem with abuse, and believes that the free parking is a major culprit of the abuse. CCDC would rather see enforcement of pay structures including but not limited to meters that are simply accessible to all drivers and that allows all drivers to take responsibility for payment.
CCDC members Jaime Lewis, Julie Reiskin, and Nicole Bishop have been featured in a Westword article published on October 2, 2018, highlighting the lack of accessibility with ride-sharing apps such as Lyft and Uber.
The challenge with ride-sharing apps and accessibility is that the apps are software companies, not taxi services, and drivers are not required to provide wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Both Uber and Lyft claim to be exploring the option of letting users request wheelchair accessible vehicles.
“I don’t want to fight Uber or Lyft. But if they don’t take responsibility [for providing accessibility], we’re going to have to do it for them,” says Lewis. Neither Uber nor Lyft have wheelchair-accessible vehicles available in Denver at this time.
Thank you, Jaime, Julie and Nicole for advocating for our members!
RTD Board of Directors will be deciding on fare increases in the next couple of weeks.
August 21st- RTD Board will have its regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday the 21st of September from 5:30-7:30 at 1660 Blake. This meeting provides time for public input. People wanting to speak must sign in when they arrive and indicate that they want speak. Each speaker is given 3 minutes to present. All comments should be directed at chair person.
September 11- RTD finance committee may vote to present fare increase to full board (September 18th). No public input is allowed at this meeting
September 18th- RTD Board has the option to vote on fare increases or table the issue to gather more information or input. Public input is accepted at this meeting.
If the vote is tabled there could be another chance on October 23rd for Directors to do so.
CCDC Transit Advisor