Parking in the city streets of Baltimore can be quite the struggle, as it is in most downtown cities. Project Space has initiated a new policy for Baltimore City in order to free up parking spots and stop handicap placard theft and abuse. Misuse of handicap placards by those who do not need them has led to the issue of numerous lost and stolen placards in Baltimore and other U.S. cities.
With that being said, imagine looking for wheelchair vans for sale, purchasing your new van and soon after that finding out someone broke in and damaged your vehicle to steal your disability placard. This is obviously not the ideal situation, which is why new policies are being made.
It had appeared that majority of drivers were using placards to park for free, when according to census date, only 10 percent of drivers in Baltimore city are qualified for disability placards. Around 2,000 placards have been stolen each year, with them being the most stolen item out of cars. This resulted in finding handicapped parking spots almost impossible for disabled drivers.
Phase 1 (central business districts) of the city policy took place on July 10th, 2014. Disabled drivers no longer get free, unlimited street parking and they now have to pay for parking just like everyone else. Though it might seem unfair for those with disabilities to have to pay for parking, Project Space believes that the new policy will allow more parking overall, benefiting them in the long run. This policy will provide a safer community for those with disabilities, ensuring that they will have a spot to park. Equal payment being required will also eliminate the reason for those who are not handicapped to steal disability placards.
The city believes that this policy will free up parking spacing and reduce congestion. There will still be plenty of spaces reserved for the handicapped. Instead of the old crank meters that were not accessible, hundreds of ADA-compliant meters with new technology (accepting cash and credit cards) have been installed for all reserved handicapped parking spots on the street. There will be about 1-2 meters per block. These meters will have a limit of at least 4 hours, which is double of the normal limit, so people with disabilities will have plenty of time to get where they need to be.
Similar parking programs have also taken place in the following areas:
- Arlington County, Virginia
- Asheville, North Carolina
- State of Michigan
- Hagerstown, Maryland
- Chicago, Illinois
Project Space focuses on “making space for all” and it is co-sponsored by the Parking Authority of Baltimore City and the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities. Click here for more information on Project Space.
Should disabled drivers have their free parking taken away because of the placard abuse of others? What do you think? Share your thoughts!