Handicap Parking Etiquette

Somebody found my blog while searching for “Handicap Parking Etiquette.” I thought this was SUCH a good topic–especially since even people in my own family are confused by the rules.  I’m going to share some of my thoughts and then if you have something to add, please go ahead and leave it in the comments.

  1. Don’t use the spot unless you really need it.
  2. Don’t use a van space if you’re not driving a van–the van people really need the space.
  3. Don’t park on the stripey lines next to the van spots–that’s for loading and unloading a wheelchair.
  4. If you see a van with a wheelchair sticker on the side, try not to park near it–it means that’s where the chair loads and unloads.
  5. Don’t put your shopping cart in handicap spaces. Be grateful you can walk and put that baby where it belongs.
  6. Don’t put your shopping cart in the stripey places either.
  7. The disabled person has to be in the car. The tag alone is not enough.
  8. Don’t be upset if a police officer has to see your Disabled ID–that keeps things fair.

I hope this helps! Please add anything I may have forgotten or even disagree with me (nicely) in the comments.boy in wheelchair smiling

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  1. love the explanation of the rules.

    I almost called someone out on parking in a handicapped space the other day. they had the license plate, but nobody coming out of the car appeared disabled in any way… I kept my mouth shut… but still wondered…

    • Some physical disabilities can be invisible. (I have arthritis and you might not be able to tell by looking how painful and tiring walking can be for me some days)… so if you do decide to say something please be nice!

      • Perfect point, Megan. Invisible disabilities exist. I never question people, but I tell you what, sometimes I wonder.

  2. Perfect!

  3. Good job! We only use Handicap Parking when Ben is using his walker, since we don’t have a wheelchair for him yet. If he’s just going in a stroller, we just use regular parking.

    • I’m MOST likely to use a spot when I’m carrying Charlie because he’s really, really heavy!

  4. I am feeling sort of guilty and I haven’t done it yet. Hannah is indeed mobile and walking but I am showing you the best of her skills on my blog. She is really still kind of tippy (especially with the constraint cast that weighs 10% of her body weight) and the longer she goes she is more fatigued than a typical two year old, which makes her tippy and subject to injury, and she also comes undone with extreme temperature changes. When I carry her too much my bad neck does awful things, so my doctor gave me a placardapproval and said to use it for the winter. I’d been thinking of our Disneyland trip and the stoller as wheelchair thing that you wrote about, Katie, and wondering if it was fair that I use it and my doc said pretty much hell to the yeah, that if Hannah needs to walk in from a far out parking space in the kind of snow and ice we have in Utah she will be at risk but of course I will never use it when I don’t have Hannah. Like I said, I already feel guilty but she wants independence (unless she doesn’t!) and I don’t want her falling too much (I am fairly familiar with falling since I do it every damn winter myself) but OH MY GOD I already feel guilty if I ever take a space when a person with a wheelchair or power chair needs it. And just FYI, Salt Lake City created a system for individual citizens to basically issue citations to violators of handicapped parking rules and boy did that make for some nasty citizen on citizen confrontations due to less visible disablities and poorly displayed placards and permits. I want to smack those Land Rover asshats who take the spaces so their precious cars won’t get door dings, but I bite my tongue – you never know who’s packin’ in Utah!!

    • Ginger;
      My husband has major guilt over our handicap pass–never mind that our neurologist assured us that we should have one. I’m not sure what that is exactly, but know that you’re not alone in the guilt.

    • Ginger,

      I hope you don’t feel guilty for that much longer…I LOVE our H-cap placard. E walks okay with her loftstrands, but she keeps her head down a lot of the time and doesn’t tend to move in a straight line. Not to mention she expends a lot of energy walking, so walking over a long distance is very hard for her when we’re parking to go to a fun activity.
      The H-cap spot has given us SO MUCH freedom–I absolutely love it. It gives us the space for E to work on getting in and out of her carseat (we are working on this b/c she is definitely getting heavy), and to walk a little and respect traffic. And when we carry a lot of our gear, yes, it is easier on the back when I’m handling both kids while we’re out.
      And I never, EVER use the placard when Elena is not with us. I wouldn’t even think about it. If there is a close space (manageable distance for E), we’ll take that instead of the H-cap, but if there isn’t, I take it without reservations.

  5. Don’t leave your BIKE there. Seriously, I went to the mall the other day and the only free spot had a bike standing in the middle of it… I don’t think they’re meant to be used as bike stands. Perhaps just lean it against the wall? Some people huh… It was annoying, but kind of funny at the same time. Lol, one has to find the humour in these things among all the frustrations of being in a wheelchair.

    I am a big fan of your blog and Charlie is always so cute, just by the way.

  6. I have a bad habit of forgetting to put the placard in the window. I know lots of people just drive around with it handing on their rear view mirror, but I don’t. So I know that I have parked in places and forgotten the tag and probably made some people really angry. I never use the spots when I am alone. And if Emily is using a stroller instead of her wheelchair, I usually park in a regular spot. We do drive a van, but we don’t have a lift. I constantly tell my husband not to park in the spots for vans because I want to leave the extra space for those who need it.

    Parking at Emily’s school brings up some emotion in me. There are 3 handicap spots, but only one ramp (or whatever you call it when the sidewalk slopes down). There have been so many times that I have arrived a bit early and just sat in the car listening to the radio for a bit before picking her up. I have watched countless (able-bodied) parents park in the handicap spots and run in to get their children. Drives me nuts! They don’t have parking tags and think nothing of taking the spot because I guess they figure no one else will need them in the next 10 minutes. Also, the other day, I was wheeling Emily back out to the car and a mom that was there picking up her child parked right in front of the ramp on the sidewalk. She moved rather quickly when I motioned to her, but it still bugged me a bit that she didn’t think twice about parking there until she saw someone who needed the ramp. OK, stepping off my soapbox now…

    • Schools are the worst–really. Teachers at Charlie’s school park in the handicap spots and then just stick their IDs up so no one reports them. It’s gotten better now, though, since the parking situation is such that we NEED those spots to be open or we won’t have a place to park.

  7. Contrary to popular belief, the stripey areas are NOT for motobikes. Ugh, cant believe how many bikes I see abusing these spaces.
    My mum mentioned we should get a parking sign the other day, Ryan is also really heavy to carry now.

    • Yeah, the heaviness is what gets me. If I have to lug Charlie in and out of the store, that zaps most of my energy right there. It’s actually less of a deal for me when we have the chair because that effort is the same no matter where we park although it does help to have the extra room to put the thing together.

  8. I think that there should be more handicapable parking at stores. It never seems like there is enough to go around.

    But my pet peeves are:
    Motorcycles who park in the striped areas.
    Cars who park where vans should.
    People who do not clearly show their placards.
    People who will sit there and wait, and wait, and wait, while you load your car of person and goods, and give you stink eye when you don’t move fast enough for them.

    • Gosh, Becca, somebody gave you the stink eye? I didn’t even give the stink eye to the guy who was loading his bike into his handicap van.

  9. Great post, Katy! I wish people would respect handicapped spots more. They must not stop to think about what a big deal it is…argh!!! Thanks for posting about this!

    • Thanks, Erin. You are right–it’s not a big deal til you’re the one desperate for a spot and other people are messing things up.

  10. It really gets on my nerves when I see cars WITHOUT TAGS parked in disabled parking…drive me CRAZY! Also, I am a stickler on only using it when the disabled person is in the car. Sometimes it’s really tempting to park in a disabled parking spot when I’m out without Avery, especially when It’s raining and I have both the boys with me, but I DON”T DO IT!!

  11. Great rules. I wish there were more handicapped spots, too. So many people have tags now, and I’m not sure they all need them. My mom has one, simply because her back hurts. But with meds the pain is controlled. She doesn’t need to park closer any more, but she keeps on using her tag. When I asked her about it and tried to explain how hard it is for me to find a place for her own granddaughter, she got really mad. If she can’t understand, someone who should be able to, then it seems like others sure won’t.

    • I think it’s a slippery slope once one decides that you need some sort of special treatment. I think it happens to all of us. I wish humans were different, but I don’t see it happening any time this week!

  12. AmieSaint says:

    You left out one that always gets me: when people park across handicap spots, usually taking up at least 2, and almost always with a fancy new car/truck they don’t want dinged. It makes me sad I ran out of my “Congratulations! You parked like an a–!” cards to put on people’s windshields. Especially when it’s a new corvette or other sport car.

    • Amie–those sound like the coolest cards ever. I often wish I had little post-its that had something similar written on them.

  13. My mom first got my pass because I was just getting too heavy to carry very far.
    I feel guilty when I park in a van space but if it’s the only space for miles I have to use it.
    I have one to add. Don’t park in the hash marks (the lines) even if you have a placecared. I see that one so much more than other offences these days.

  14. My father was a WWII vet who had hand grenade shrapnel working its way out of his legs until the day he died (in 1977ish,) so I’ve long been a defender of keeping handicapped spaces for handicapped people. My manager & I even chase people out of the handicapped spot at work on a regular basis. Sad that we have to do that, of course, that people are THAT selfish and inconsiderate.

  15. ok, so I am totally guilty of parking in the van spots. it’s only at our therapy place which literally has 10 spots (all handicapped) and then street parking. There is a parking garage downhill about a block away that I don’t exactly feel safe parking in (loading a wheelchair makes me feel vulnerable).

    so admittedly, I might still use it if there isn’t other spaces available but now I’ll make sure to move my car once I get him inside.

  16. EEK, Katy, I didn’t realize the above comment was going to publish my full name. Would you please (oh please) remove my last name? Thanks! And feel free to delete this one, since it doesn’t add to the value of your content. Thanks!

  17. I wish your great Rules of Etiquette would be posted right there on the parking spaces! Not that everyone who needs to read them would, of course, because people who break the rules on purpose are going to break them regardless. But some folks truly don’t mean to be discourteous…the just didn’t realize how their behavior impacts the people these spaces are mean to benefit.

  18. Miriam McClure says:

    Earlier today I was parking at my daughter’s orthotic office where there is only ONE handicap parking space (weird huh). Not only did I not park in that space, even though I could have, I wondered how many people would have. It was the same distance as the other parking spaces and the lot was completely empty. I’ve seen this a number of times and it kinda angers me because what if someone who needed the spot couldn’t park there and while you were inside the lot filled up! Silly I know, but if you don’t really need it at the time, don’t use it! 😛